Take the High Road To North Carolina’s Mountains
North Carolina’s stunning mountains hold treasures galore – here you’ll encounter rambling wilderness, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, ski resorts with a Southern flair, and quaint towns.
Much of the mountains are protected in parks and wilderness. Great Smoky Mountains National Park has easily-accessible mountaintops, majestic hardwood forests, bugling elk, cascading waterfalls, and historic homesteads. Speaking of waterfalls, the mountains around Highlands and Cashiers have plenty – make sure to see Whitewater Falls and the many falls in Panthertown Valley.
Ready to relax? Take a soak in Hot Springs or reserve a spa day in Boone. Time for fun? Sugar Mountain is known for its ski slopes and you can drive or bike the Blue Ridge Parkway past iconic spots like Grandfather Mountain and Mt. Mitchell.
Asheville is the cultural capital of the mountains – here you can find sophisticated boutiques, approachable galleries, and leafy historic neighborhoods. Don’t miss a trip to the Biltmore Estate or an afternoon at the Folk Art Center. Cool off at spots like Sliding Rock or hike to the top of nearby Looking Glass Rock for a memorable view of the high country.
Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina
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Top Things to Do
Mountain Museums Celebrate Heritage and History
Get an inside glimpse at culture and history in mountain museums. In Franklin, step into the Scottish Tartans Museum to trace the origins and uses of this dress. In Bryson City, the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians has displays of equipment and gear. In Cherokee, the Museum of the Cherokee Indian has displays depicting tribal history. At Western Carolina University, the Fine Art Museum has four galleries and a growing permanent collection.
Grab Your Skis and Think Snow!
North Carolina’s ski areas mix high altitude slopes with modern snowmaking. Cataloochee, near Maggie Valley, is known for its long season and great learn-to-ski programs. Near Boone you will find several mountains: Appalachian Ski Mountain has a renowned learning program and aggressive snowmaking, while Sugar Mountain has the tallest vertical drop in the South. Beech Mountain has a spectacular mountaintop location and wide runs. Near Mars Hill, Wolf Ridge has diverse terrain and off-mountain activities.
Adventure Abounds In North Carolina’s Mountains
If adventure is your thing, the mountains of North Carolina will be your happy place. Great Smoky Mountains National Park has hundreds of miles of hiking trails leading to waterfalls and vistas. Near Bryson City, Tsali is one of the top spots in the South for mountain biking. Ready to get wet? The Nantahala is one of the best whitewater rivers in America, with plenty of outfitters offering guided rafting.