The Nantahala National Forest is the largest of the four national forests in North Carolina, lying in the mountains and valleys of western North Carolina. The Nantahala is the second wettest region in the country, after the Pacific Northwest. Due to its environmental importance and historical ties with the Cherokee, the forest was officially established on January 29, 1920, by President Woodrow Wilson. The word "Nantahala" is a Cherokee derived, meaning "Land of the Noonday Sun." In some spots, the sun reaches the floors of the deep gorges of the forest only when it is high overhead at midday. This was part of the homeland of the historic Cherokee and their indigenous ancestors, who have occupied the region for thousands of years.