Welcome to North Carolina’s High Country!This majestic area of scenic mountaintops, quaint city streets, raging rivers and cozy resorts offers a vacation like no other. In one diverse location, you can find adventure sports, a blossoming arts scene, shopping galore, awe-inspiring views and some very nice locals happy to show off their beloved region.
The variety of activities from Blowing Rock to Boone ensures there’s never a dull season in the High Country. From skiing to kayaking, shopping for art to cutting down Christmas trees, the region is ripe with things to do and see from spring through winter. Throughout every season, you’ll never have to look very hard to find excellent restaurants and bars, impressive galleries and unique shops.
You’ll know it is spring in the High Country when the mountain laurel and rhododendron start to bloom—greens and pinks frame the mountain vistas, and the outdoors seems to come to life. Spring is a great time to hike or bike the mountain trails and take in the scenery in its transition. Also, as the snow melts, area rapids are at their fastest, making it a great time for exciting whitewater rafting, canoeing or kayaking.
Spring also marks the re-opening of area attractions, including the Linville Gorge, the Daniel Boone Native Gardens and many more. It marks the beginning of a season of music and art festivals with the Blue Ridge Wine Festival and MerleFest in April, Boone’s Friday afternoon “Concerts on the Lawn” and Blowing Rock’s “Art in the Park.” Visitors and residents are excited to be outdoors in the rising temperatures, whether it is for shopping and gallery hopping or rock climbing and kayaking.
Escape the heat of summer in the mountains, where the temperatures are refreshingly cooler, providing the perfect opportunity for numerous outdoor activities. Enjoy a strenuous hike or a relaxing float down the New River on an inner tube. Summer evenings are cool, non-humid and most importantly, lack mosquitoes, so you can actually enjoy the outdoors in a stroll downtown or with a glass of wine on your deck.
In the summer, all attractions are in full swing, including the famed Horn in the West outdoor drama. Festivities and arts run the gamut, from the Appalachian State Summer Festival to the popular Grandfather Mountain Highland Games.
As autumn approaches, the air cools and the scenery begins to change. The varying levels of elevation prolong the leaf changing through October, making fall the most picturesque time to visit the High Country. The spectacular views provide a surreal backdrop for experiencing the outdoors.
When the leaves brighten to orange, the communities brighten up as well with numerous fall festivals and events. Appreciate the colorful kites against the mountain background at the Mile High Kite Festival at Beech Mountain. There are also apple festivals, Oktoberfest celebrations, country and craft fairs and even a Woolly Worm Festival, in which a worm race predicts the winter weather.
While winter is generally the quieter season, the slopes are busy as ever with skiers and snowboarders taking advantage of the powdery snow. The High Country is known as the ski capital of the South—not only does it have the highest average elevation in the eastern United States, but it also has excellent ski resorts all within 30 minutes of each other. Natural snow combined with modern snowmaking machinery ensures 120 days of snow, from Thanksgiving through March.
If you’re here in the winter, don’t leave without picking out and cutting down your very own Christmas tree. Dozens of tree farms carrying White Pines and Fraser Firs (the “Cadillac of Christmas Trees”) dot the mountains of High Country, making it one of the country’s top tree producers. The Choose & Cut events and festivities run annually from the day after Thanksgiving through mid-December. Many farms also offer hot chocolate or cider, holiday cookies, local crafts and children’s activities. Make an important family tradition out of picking your tree—and don’t worry; you don’t have to cut it down yourself if you don’t want to.
Every season has a selling trait, so go ahead and experience them all. Be sure to come back to High Country for the changing leaves, the summer festivals, the skiing or some intense white-water rafting. Take the family, your friends or that special someone for an unforgettable trip to the mountains.
Enjoy your stay!