The Majestic North Carolina Mountains
The mountains of North Carolina are beautiful year round. In every season there is something to do in the NC mountains. Activities include:fishing, snow skiing, hiking ,camping, auto tours, horseback riding and motorcycling. Popular highways for motorcycle and automobile sightseeing are The Blue Ridge Parkway, Highway 441 through the Great Smoky
NC mountain accommodations can be at a mountain resort, a cozy mountain Inn, a Bed & Breakfast, a cabin rental or at a campground. There are hundreds of each to choose from in the NC mountains. Vacation rentals in the NC mountains are everywhere. Choosing can be the hard part because of all the possibilities. See the tips for planning and choosing the right accommodations for a NC mountain vacation.
The Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains are located along the North Carolina and Tennessee border and is home to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was created in 1934 to protect the beautiful forest and large tracts of trees from over logging. It is the most visited national park in the United States with over 9 million people annually. It is approximately 521,895 acres in size and mountain elevations in the
park range from just over 875 feet to 6,643 feet. The tallest elevation point is at the popular tourist site of Clingmans Dome. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open daily year round and is free to the public.
The Cherokee used the word Shacorage meaning “blue, like smoke” to describe the mountain region. The name “Smoky” comes from the natural smoke appearance that can engulf the mountain peaks and settle into the valleys. It is the result of the warm humid air coming from the south and cooling rapidly in the higher elevations of the mountains.
Blue Ridge Mountains:
The Great Smoky Mountains are within the Blue Ridge province of the Appalachian Mountain Range. The term “Blue Ridge” most commonly refers to the eastern edge or front range of the Appalachian Mountains. The Blue Ridge Mountains contain the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway is a 469-mile long scenic highway that runs along the crests of the Southern Appalachians. It runs along the highest ridges between the Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at altitudes of over 6,000 feet. The scenic drive has a lower speed limit so you can enjoy the magnificent mountain views.
The Great Balsam Mountains:
The Great Balsam Mountains, or Balsam Mountains, are a subrange of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which in turn are a part of the Appalachian Mountains. The most famous peak in the Great Balsam range is Cold Mountain. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs along its length and at Richland Balsam (milepost 431), the Parkway is at its highest point (6053 feet).
The Black Mountains:
Fraser Fir trees on the upper slopes. The Eastern Continental Divide, which runs along the eastern Blue Ridge crest, intersects the southern tip of the Black Mountain range.The Black Mountains are home to Mount Mitchell State Park. The Blue Ridge Parkway passes along the range’s southern section, and is connected to the summit of Mount Mitchell. Mt. Mitchell, located in Yancy County, has an elevation of 6,684 feet. It is the highest point east of the Mississippi.
There are different North Carolina mountain regions in the Western North Carolina. In the northwest portion of North Carolina the mountain towns are Boone, Blowing Rock, Jefferson and West Jefferson, Grandfather Mountain and Linville.
The Asheville area has beautiful mountain views and tourist attractions such as Biltmore, Omni Grove Park Inn and Historic Biltmore Village. The Asheville area have mountain range elevations at 2500 feet.
The southwest mountain region of North Carolina is home to mountain towns of Franklin, Highlands and Cashiers. Whiteside Mountain is a mountain in Jackson County, North Carolina with an elevation of 4930 feet. The area has many beautiful waterfalls such as Bridal Veils Fall and Dry Falls located in the Nantahala National Forest on US Highway 64/State Road 28 between Highlands and Franklin, North Carolina.
The Blue Ridge Parkway and the North Carolina Mountains
Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic highway that winds along the Appalachian Mountains. It stretches from Virginia in the Shenandoah National Park through the NC mountains to the south entrance of The Great Smoky Mountains in Cherokee, NC. Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway with breath-taking mountain views. A 469 mile long scenic highway mostly along the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. It’s a 2 lane highway with a speed limit of 45 miles per hour specifically set for sightseeing. It is closed to commercial traffic.
The Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic highway that winds along the Appalachian Mountains for 469 miles. It connects the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. It enter North Carolina in the Yadkin Valley, continues down to the High Country in the far left north corner of the state and passes such places as Boone, Blowing Rock, Grandfather Mountain and Linville. The most photographed part of the Blue Ridge Parkway is The Linn Cove Viaduct at MP 304. The Blue Ridge Asheville section include Little Switzerland, Black Mountain and Asheville. After passing though Balsam and Maggie Valley the parkway ends at Cherokee near the entrance to The Great Smoky Mountains.
Blue Ridge Parkway is marked by milepost. Milepost are designated stops that offer scenic overlooks, glimpses of mountain farm life, scenes of natural wonder, spectacular views, hiking trails, caverns, tunnels and beautiful scenes of nature and wildlife. A ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway at any time is a scenic adventure but in the fall when the NC fall foliage show takes place it is truly an awe-inspiring highway to travel.
NC Mountain Weather
Weather conditions in the North Carolina mountains can change frequently and quite suddenly. When visiting the North Carolina mountains be prepared for sudden changes in the weather. Wear layers of clothes that can be added or removed as needed. Higher elevations are cooler than lower elevations. Always have rain gear. It can be foggy or raining on top of a mountain while sunny, warm and clear conditions are at the base. The winter season can be quite cold with snow and ice at the higher elevations. Road closures take place without warning due to winter related conditions such as ice and snow.
Travel Tips for the North Carolina Mountains
- Do not feed the bears. Keep your distance from bears and back away slowly if you come across a bear.
- Stay on the trails and do not wander off into the forest.
- Do not drink the water. The water in the streams and rivers can be contaminated with impurities and parasites causing gastric problems.
- Rocks and timbers in or near water can be slippery causing falls and injury. Do not swim in the water, hidden rocks beneath the surface can cause injury.
- Dress in layers and carry rain gear.
- Know park regulations.
See the beauty of the North Carolina mountains…