Western North Carolina Counties BACK to WNC COUNTIES

Graham County, NC Visitor Center 2013
Map Location of Graham County of Western North Carolina
Tourist & Relocation Information Guide

Graham County is a county located in the U.S. state of North Carolina. As of 2010, the population was 8,861. Its county seat is Robbinsville6. Graham County is one of the four dry counties in North Carolina, along with Clay, Mitchell, and Yancey.

Cherohala Skyway Robbinsville North Carolina to Tellico Plains Tennessee
Cherohala Skyway - Robbinsville, NC


The county was formed January 30, 1872, from the northeastern part of Cherokee County. It was named for William A. Graham, United States Senator from North Carolina (1840-1843) and Governor of North Carolina (1845-1849).

Law and government

Graham County is a member of the regional Southwestern Commission council of governments.


Graham County covers 433 square miles with elevation ranges from 1,177 to 5,560 feet. Two-thirds of the county is the Nantahala National Forest. Fontana Lake, an impoundment of the Little Tennessee River, forms most of the northern border of the county, with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the other side of the lake. Fontana Lake is formed by Fontana Dam, the tallest dam in the eastern U.S. The northern boundary of Graham County is also formed by an impoundment of the Cheoah River created by Cheoah Dam.

Fontana Dam and Cheoah Dam are both operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The Cheoah River is noted for its Class IV and Class V whitewater rapids. The river is used for whitewater rafting about 17 days per year, based on a water-release schedule from Santeelah Dam.

The Appalachian Trail winds through Graham County. Part of the trail is located on top of Fontana Dam.

Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest, a rare example of an old growth cove hardwood forest, is located in northwestern Graham County. Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest is part of the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness area.

The eastern terminus of the Cherohala Skyway is located in northwestern Graham County. The 36-mile (58 km) Cherohala Skyway connects Graham County with Tellico Plains, Tennessee.

Seventy-five percent of Lake Santeetlah shoreline borders national forest.


The county is divided into three townships:

  • Cheoah
  • Stecoah
  • Yellow Creek

Cities & Towns

  • Lake Santeetlah
  • Robinsville

Township Locations of Graham County of Western North Carolina


As of the census of 2010, there were 8,861 people, 3,709 households residing in the county out of which 6.2% had children under the age of 5, 21.5% had children under the age of 18 and 20.7% were over the age of 65. The average persons per household was 2.39. The population density was 20 per square mile. There were 5,673 housing units at an average density of 13 per square mile.

  • White persons - 90.3%
  • Black persons - 0.2%
  • American Indian and Alaska Native persons - 6.4%
  • Asian persons - 0.3%
  • Persons reporting two or more races - 1.7%
  • Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin - 2.2%

The median income for a household in the county was $30,727. The per capita income for the county was $17,652. About 19.6% of the population were below the poverty line.


  • The county is the birthplace of country music legend Ronnie Milsap.
  • Robbinsville in Graham County is the closest town to the Tail of the Dragon with 318 curves in 11 miles of US 129. It is popular with motorcylists and sports car enthusiasts.

Latest Graham County, North Carolina, weather