America's Scenic Byways

Cherokee Hills Byway

84 miles - Allow at least 2 hours

Situated in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, the Cherokee Hills Byway is a showcase of eastern Oklahoma’s tremendous diversity. From lush scenery and breathtaking natural beauty to a rich cultural and historical background, the Cherokee Hills Byway is a traveler’s oasis inspiring visitors to delve deeper into the theme and countless opportunities available along the byway.

Partake of the culture and history of the Cherokee people as you relive the past of the tragic Trail of Tears, known to the Cherokees as "the trail where they cried." This historical preview is a picture of the Cherokee culture as it was and is today. See remnants of the proud Cherokee heritage in architecture, museums, and other cultural venues and events, or tour the Cherokee Nation of today and observe how the ancient traditions live on in day-to-day life. This is where the story begins after the Trail of Tears.

The story of the Cherokee people can be heard throughout the byway. It is a story of tragedy and triumph, setbacks and successes. See the beauty of the area with the crystal clear waters of the Scenic Illinois River. Learn why this gorgeous body of water was so important to the lives of the Cherokees as they inhabited their new homeland. The rolling foothills of the Ozark Mountains gives the visitor a heightened visual sense and at the same time imagining how the Cherokees used these same hills, rivers and woodlands to hunt and gather to sustain a lifestyle.

Today, the Cherokee people can be found preserving the history and culture of a proud nation as well as creating a successful future for generations to come.