Vacation in North Carolina High Country
The North Carolina High Country is considered to be the northwestern portion of the state where the Blue Ridge Mountains are located. A region of great natural beauty, it’s dotted with picturesque small towns where people still shop at the main street mercantile store. Mountaintop rental houses or cabins are often of the log variety, but that doesn’t mean they can’t include modern amenities such as satellite television service and washing machines. Many also offer fireplaces and outdoor grills, and a significant percentage of them welcome pets.
The High Country has innumerable trails for hiking and mountain biking, and those are just two of the many outdoor pursuits vacationers can try. Horseback riding, zip-lining and rock climbing opportunities abound. Water sports such as rafting, kayaking and tubing are popular during the warmer summer months, and the trout and fly fishing attracts many enthusiasts. Because of the mountainous terrain, golf courses in these parts are quite challenging.
Blowing Rock is home to one of several winter resorts in the region and to a ski college which teaches skiing and snowboarding to all levels. There are also a number of locations to go snowshoeing, tubing and ice skating.
This family amusement park has a Wild West theme and features live shows, rides, a deer petting area, a gold and gem panning zone and two vintage steam locomotives.
A drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway is a must when in High Country. The road offers lovely panoramic vistas all year, but it’s most famous for the displays of colorful foliage found along many stretches during the autumn months. Travelers often stop for a picnic or photographs, and the short detour to Grandfather Mountain near Linville to see the view from the Mile High Swinging Bridge is well worth it.
Culture comes in different shapes in the High Country. There are art galleries showcasing painting, photography and sculpture by premier artists, but there are also museums which are dedicated to preserving bygone eras, such as the Hickory Ridge Living History Museum which recreates mountain life in the 1700s. Local Lees-McRae College stages several musicals and plays during their annual summer theater program. Oenophiles will be glad to know that different area wineries are beginning to make a name for themselves by capitalizing on the zone’s unique soil and growing conditions to produce distinctive regional wines.
When to Visit
The area enjoys four distinct seasons and is a year-round travel destination. Summer daytime highs rarely rise above 80 degrees and nights are cool but not cold. Winter brings plenty of snow, yet the weather is not considered harsh, with daily temperatures reaching up into the 40s and dropping down only to about 20 degrees. Spring and summer are excellent times for hiking and water sports, and winter is great for skiing and sledding. Autumn is one of the best times to visit—not only do the turning leaves put on a spectacular show, but it’s also when several festivals take place. The Autumn at Oz Party in Beech Mountain is a Dorothy and the Wizard-themed affair, and the Woolly Worm Festival in Banner Elk features worm races.
How to Get There
The North Carolina High Country can be reached by flying into either Asheville Regional Airport in Asheville or Tri-Cities Regional Airport in Johnson City, Tennessee. Major national airlines fly to each of these, and connecting flights mean the region can be reached from just about anywhere. Cars can be rented at both airports, and private limousine service is also available. Taxi cabs are an additional option at Asheville Airport.