Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway known as America’s Favorite Drive, spans 469 miles from the Shenandoah Valley near Waynesboro, Virginia, to Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, NC. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a great way to view the North Carolina High Country. The parkway has many overlooks, picnic spots, hiking trails and panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountain’s peaks and valleys. While visiting the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can look forward to viewing breathtaking mountain scenery, like split-rail fences, old farmsteads, and historic structures. The natural wonders of the Blue Ridge Parkway also offer visitors an astonishing range of outdoor activities all year round:
- Hiking and biking — explore over 100 trails including along the legendary Appalachian Trail
- Horseback riding — riding trails are available at the historic Moses Cone Estate, a 25-minute drive from Beech Mountain
- Fishing — enjoy lakes and streams along the Parkway with either a North Carolina or Virginia fishing license, depending on location
- Natural Heritage Areas — explore 47 different areas located along the Blue Ridge Parkway that have been set aside as examples of outstanding national, regional, or state natural communities
- Historical and cultural demonstrations — visit developed areas dedicated to hands-on demonstrations of traditional mountain life, history and culture
- Ranger guided walks and programs — enjoy evening programs or traditional campfire programs complete with guided walks and special programs throughout the summer season
- Wildflower walks and fall colors— the Parkway is renowned for its springtime wildflower walks, which peak in May, as well as the Blue Ridge Mountains’ spectacular display of fall colors, which peaks in October
- Bird Watching — see a wide variety of Eastern migratory birds in a beautiful natural habitat
Beech Mountain Resort
As the highest resort in Eastern America, Beech Mountain Resort (Ski Beech) is home to some of the finest snowboarding and snow skiing in North Carolina. The resort offers both day and night snow skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating, with nine runs on the front side of the mountain and double-sided runs on the mountain’s backside.
Snowboarders enjoy the region’s premier terrain parks where features are changed on a regular basis. The Powder Bowl Terrain Park is for intermediate to advanced boarders, while the Meadows Park, which is dedicated to beginning snowboarders. There is also a Burton Learn-to-Ride Center at Beech Mountain Resort.
The resort also recently added an amenity unique to all ski resorts in North Carolina. At the top of slopes, right off the chairlift, sits a glass-walled skybar called “5,506.”
Named after Beech Mountain’s superlative elevation, the skybar offers food & beverage service, plus a large deck for relaxing with friends or enjoying the amazing view.
Beech Mountain Resort welcomes nearly 90 inches of natural snowfall each winter and boasts the region’s premier snowmaking capabilities. The ski resort is also served by the only high-speed quad ski lift in North Carolina, which offers its passengers spectacular, sweeping views of the surrounding countryside.
And even if you’re not up for the steep grades, you can still enjoy outdoor winter sports at Beech Mountain Resort. The resort’s Alpine Village centerpiece is a 7,000-square-foot ice skating rink — where children and adults can skate to their heart’s content.
Buckeye Recreation Center
The brand-new Buckeye Recreation Center is a 22,500-square-foot facility offering recreational opportunities like indoor basketball, volleyball, and tennis; a fitness room; a conference room with catering area, and a playroom built specifically for children under 12. It’s perfect for getting that much-needed cardio exercise, or for exercising your family’s competitive nature.
Winter Hours of Operation (Nov-April)
Monday – Friday: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Annual Pass-Holder Fitness Room Access: 24 hours daily
Summer Hours of Operation (May-Oct)
Monday – Saturday: 8:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Sunday: 12 noon – 6:00 p.m.
Annual Pass-Holder Fitness Room Access: 24 hours daily
One of the great destinations in the South, Grandfather Mountain stands head and shoulders above the High Country as one of North Carolina’s top scenic attractions. One of the mountain’s best-known pastimes is a walk across the Mile High Swinging Bridge. It is located a mile above sea level and is the highest suspension footbridge in the country. A journey to the end offers 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The nearby “Top Shop” provides elevator access to the bridge, making it accessible for disabled visitors. Eleven hiking trails are available across the mountain. They vary in difficulty from an easy stroll in a meadow to a rugged trek up challenging terrain. Interpretive rangers are available year-round to lead guided hikes, bird walks and wildflower walks for groups and families. As you hike the trails, you’ll see a variety of wildlife. Speaking of wildlife, Grandfather Mountain has seven environmental habitats, which are large enclosures showcasing animals in their natural settings. See black bears, river otters, white-tailed deer, cougars and bald eagles as they play, pounce and swim. For even closer access to these native animals, behind-the-scenes tours take place on Saturdays and Sundays from April through October. The Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum contains more than two dozen exhibits about the region’s natural history. There are emeralds, rubies and gold pulled from the North Carolina soil, a scale model of Grandfather Mountain and lifelike wax examples of wildflowers, berries and mushrooms that are found here. Plan to stay for lunch. Pack your own picnic or order something to go from Mildred’s Grill. More than 100 picnic tables are scattered throughout the property. Don’t leave without a sweet treat from the Grandfather Mountain Fudge Shop. The mountain gets its unique name from pioneers who recognized that from certain vantage points, the cliffs resemble the profile of an old man or a “grandfather.”
Grandfather Mountain is open daily year-round, weather permitting. Hours vary seasonally. You can learn more by calling 800-468-7325 or visiting www.grandfather.com.
North Carolina’s very own wild-west family theme park, the Tweetsie Railroad includes an arcade, shooting gallery, petting zoo, picnic areas, live entertainment, gem mining, games and rides in the Country Fair, and the Tweetsie Jail on Main Street. Tweetsie also offers the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ride three miles aboard the Steam Engine Number 12, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This was one of the original engines in the rail service used to connect Boone, North Carolina, with Johnson City, Tennessee. In addition, the Tweetsie Railroad hosts seasonal events. Among the most popular are July 4th Fireworks and the Halloween Festival, which includes scary adventures like the Ghost Train and Haunted House. The Tweetsie Railroad is open May through October.