The Nantahala National Forest, established in 1920, is a national forest located in the American state of North Carolina. The word 'Nantahala' is a Cherokee word meaning 'Land of the Noonday Sun.'' The name is appropriate as, in some spots, the sun only reaches the floors of the deep gorges of the national forest when directly overhead at midday. The Spanish Conquistador Hernando de Soto explored the area in 1540, as did William Bartram in the 18th century. The Nantahala National Forest is home to the famous Nantahala River.