The Bryson City Island Park is a small island located in Bryson City, North Carolina. It is surrounded by the Tuckasegee River and rests at the mouth of historic Deep Creek of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Bryson City Island Park is located in the town of Bryson City at the intersection of Bryson City and Ramseur Streets. The island has a perimeter of .43 miles (690 m) and is located at the geographic coordinates of 35°25′54.54″N 83°26′31.51″W.
Dating back to its revitalization in the 1980s, the Island Park has served as a recreational destination for tourists and locals alike. The trails were created by Bryson City resident R.T. (Buddy) Abbott, to whom the park is dedicated. Only accessible by foot bridge, the Island Park is cut off from the mainland by the Tuckasegee River that runs through the center of the Bryson City business district. In 2004, the island was devastated by hurricane like weather and severe flooding from Hurricane Katrina that left the island closed to the public for several years. Up until the year 2008, the Island Park was only accessible by swinging foot bridge, but due to years of weathering a new, fixed concrete bridge was erected to replace the old swinging bridge. Today, the island is home to a slalom course that makes use of the white water rapids, most notably the "Devil's Dip" rapid. Up until recently, the Island Park was home to the Bryson City Fire Department's annual walk though haunted Halloween island, one of the fire department's most famed fundraisers.
The Bryson City Island Park is a destination for fresh water anglers, picnickers, kayakers, tourists, hikers, commercial rafting companies, bird watchers, and nature enthusiasts.
Anglers enjoy the waters around the island park because of the wide variety of fish species found there, including Brown Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, Carp, Red Horses, Small and Large mouth Bass, Catfish, White Bass, Walleye, and Rock Bass. Several companies offer private trips on the river for fishing enthusiasts. Like all public waters in North Carolina, both natural and artificial lures are allowed, along with no limits on catches, with the exception of trout being a limit of seven.
The island park offers a secluded, unspoiled landscape that makes it an ideal spot for picnickers, hikers, and wildlife spotters. The official bird of the state of North Carolina, the Cardinal, can be observed nesting on the island during certain parts of the year. The park offers roughly ten picnic tables along with trash cans and recycling bins. The park offers roughly a mile of dirt trails that circle around the island and through its center. Historic Deep Creek, of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, mouths at the Island Park into the Tuskasegee River.
In 2005, Bryson City secured two $50,000 grants to be used for introducing some local fauna to the island park. The town also hopes to improve and add to the island's walking paths and gardens, as well as possibly build an outdoor amphitheater on the island, with the hopes of becoming a "beautiful, natural focal point in the heart of Bryson City".