© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Brinegar Cabin at Doughton Park, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
→ Brinegar Cabin at Doughton Park

Re-live life in the mountains as it was over 100 years ago. Brinegar Cabin at Doughton Park was the homestead of Martin and Caroline Brinegar who lived in this cabin for almost 60 years. Life in the mountains was hard and painful without modern conveniences such as running water, electricity, central heating and a convenience store around the corner. The Brinegars were largely self sufficient, and what they did not have or could not make, they traded.

You may want to combine a visit to the historic Brinegar Cabin with a hike in Doughton Park.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Doughton Park, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
→ Doughton Park

Being one of the largest parks in North Carolina, the 7,000-acre Doughton Park is a great destination for hikers, offering 7 different trails ranging from 1 mile to 7.5 miles one way. It also has a large campground on the north-eastern side of the park near Milepost 239. There is also a primitive campsite inside the park, which may be a wonderful option for more adventurous hikers, who love backcountry camping.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: View Bluff Mountain, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
→ View Bluff Mountain

View Bluff Mountain at Milepost 243.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway offers beautiful vistas overlooking Doughton Park. It also provides hikers access to the easy 7.5-mile (12 km) Bluff Mountain Trail, which reaches the Brinegar Cabin after 4.7 miles (7.6 km).

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Basin Cove Overlook, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
→ Basin Cove Overlook

The Basin Cove Overlook at Milepost 244.7 on the Blue Ridge Parkway is a picturesque spot with long-range views and a big old photogenic pine tree. The southeast facing overlook is situated at an elevation of 3,312 feet (1,009 meters). Two hiking trails, the Bluff Mountain Trail and the Flat Rock Ridge Trail, start from the overlook.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Jumpinoff Rocks Overlook, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
→ Jumpinoff Rocks Overlook

The Jumpinoff Rocks Overlook offers expansive views after an easy 0.5-mile (0.8 km) hike. The parking area is located at Milepost 260.3 on the Blue Ridge Parkway and also features a picnic table on each side.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Raven Rocks Overlook, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
→ Raven Rocks Overlook

The Raven Rocks Overlook at Milepost 289.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the few overlooks that faces west, making it an ideal spot for early morning pictures. From an elevation of 3,810 feet (1,161 meters), visitors can see as far as Grandfather Mountain in the west and Elk Knob in the east.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Yadkin Valley Overlook, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
→ Yadkin Valley Overlook

At an elevation of 3,830 feet (1,167 meters), the east facing Yadkin Valley Overlook at Milepost 289.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway offers sweeping panoramic views of the Yadkin Valley.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Thunder Hill Overlook, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
→ Thunder Hill Overlook

The Thunder Hill Overlook at Milepost 290.4 on the Blue Ridge Parkway is a popular photo stop, where stunning pictures of the Piedmont below can be taken from an elevation of 3,795 feet (1,157 meters).

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Elk Knob State Park, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
→ Elk Knob State Park

The 3,680-acre Elk Knob State Park is located circa 17 miles (27 km) north from Milepost 291 off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It offers from its summit at 5,520 feet (1,682 meters) stunning long-range panoramic views of the valleys below. The park is open for cross-country skiing during the winter.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Tweetsie Railroad, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
→ Tweetsie Railroad

Tweetsie Railroad, a wild west themed amusement park to the north of Blowing Rock, offers visitors a day of fun and entertainment with shows, rides, shopping, mountain clogging, panning for gold and a deer park. Also enjoy a ride on one of the nostalgic steam locomotives, called Tweetsie, named after the shrill sound of their whistles.

Blowing Rock / Highlands Region

→ Blowing Rock

The town of Blowing Rock in Watauga and Caldwell Counties, North Carolina, took its name from the famous rock formation towering 3,000 feet (914 meters) above Johns River Gorge, and which was the site of a wonderful Native American legend of love and duty. Today, The Blowing Rock is a popular year-round tourist attraction with spectacular long-range panoramic views.

When the town of Blowing Rock was incorporated in 1889, it counted a population of around 300, which grew to circa 1,300 in 2015.

Blowing Rock’s cooler summer temperatures at an elevation of 3,566 feet (1,087 meters) have always attracted large numbers of summer tourists. They in turn have drawn restaurants, hotels, artists and shops to this area.

As the Blue Ridge Parkway passes by just to the north of town at Milepost 291, visitors have easy access to wonderful parks, amazing lookouts and countless opportunities to hike and to enjoy the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Moses H Cone Memorial Park, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
→ Moses H Cone Memorial Park

Moses H Cone Memorial Park is open year-round and sees 225,000 people each year being one of the most visited recreational places on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It offers gorgeous views and 25 miles of wonderful hiking and horseback riding trails around lakes and forests. The Flat Top Manor, the former mansion, is also home to the Parkway Craft Center, where regional artists display their handmade crafts. It also features craft demonstrations during the summer months.

The Gamekeeper in Boone, North Carolina, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ The Gamekeeper

The Gamekeeper is a high-end restaurant tucked away in the forested mountains between Blowing Rock and Boone, serving a distinctive menu of wild game, such as elk, emu, duck and bison, each nicely presented in the charming setting of understated elegance and cozy hunting cabin flair.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Julian Price Memorial Park, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Julian Price Memorial Park

The Julian Price Memorial Park offers trails, which are as diverse in scenery as they are in difficulty. They range from the easy 2.7-mile loop around man-made Price Lake, where you can even rent a canoe, to the strenuous but ingenious 13.5-mile Tanawha Trail, which passes under the famous Linn Cove Viaduct. The Park is open year-round.

Grandfather Mountain State Park, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Grandfather Mountain State Park

Grandfather Mountain State Park with its spectacular views and rugged terrain may be a treasure for serious hikers, who are not afraid of climbing ladders or enduring long trails. The Park offers a 12-mile trail network, which requires advanced hiking skills. Adventurous backcountry campers find 13 backpack camping sites along the trails. Permits are required for hiking and camping. Permits are free but mandatory.

Wilson Creek Valley Overlook, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Wilson Creek Valley Overlook

The Wilson Creek Valley Overlook at Milepost 302.1 along the Blue Ridge Parkway offers panoramic views of the valley, which was formed by the Wilson Creek and once served as a hunting ground for the Cherokee Indians.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Rough Ridge Overlook, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Rough Ridge Overlook

Hikers can join the Tanawha Trail at Milepost 302.8 and follow the trail south. After a steep ascent, the trail opens up to the Rough Ridge Overlook, a wooden boardwalk and viewing platform, from which hikers can enjoy panoramic views of a magnificent mountain scenery and long distance views of the Linn Cove Viaduct.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Yonahlossee Overlook, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Yonahlossee Overlook

The Yonahlossee Overlook at Milepost 303.9 is located at the end of a short trail that runs parallel to the Blue Ridge Parkway. The overlook is an amazing place for stunning close-up eye-level panoramic views of the Linn Cove Viaduct nestled between the slopes of Grandfather Mountain and the valleys below.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Linn Cove Viaduct, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Linn Cove Viaduct

Preserving the fragile ecosystem of Grandfather Mountain, the Linn Cove Viaduct was the last section of the Blue Ridge Parkway that was only completed in 1987 after a 20-year delay. The viaduct has won 11 design awards and is one of the most photographed sites along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Visitor Center on the south side of the viaduct offers a lot of interesting information about the bridge’s construction.

Grandfather Mountain, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Grandfather Mountain

Grandfather Mountain, which is located adjacent to the Grandfather Mountain State Park, is packed with attractions. Challenge yourself by walking on the Mile High Swinging Bridge and experience stunning views from exhilarating altitude. Explore the Wildlife Habitat and watch typical mountain animals in their native wildlife habitats or join one of the 4 trails and enjoy the beauty of the landscape. Or simply relax and enjoy breathtaking views from several scenic overlooks.

Linville / Highlands Region

→ Linville

Linville in Avery County, North Carolina, was founded in 1883. Thanks to its elevation of 3,665 feet (1,117 meters) and therefore cooler summer temperatures, Linville attracted many vacationers from cities such as Wilmington and Charlotte NC, Nashville TN and Birmingham AL.

In 1888, a group of investors headed by the MacRae family of Wilmington NC purchased 16,000 acres, which included the tiny town of Linville, then named Clay, and Grandfather Mountain. Their initial intention was to develop Linville into an industrial town.

However, the investors were soon captivated by the beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the breathtaking scenery and instead decided to develop Linville into a resort destination. The lovely chestnut bark-covered Eseeola Inn opened in 1892. It was later renamed to The Eseeola Lodge, after the original building tragically burnt down in 1936.

From 1920 to 1940, Linville became a stop on the railroad line, which connected Johnson City TN with Boone NC, bringing thousands of summer tourists into the region. This period brought major construction to this area, which included the opening of the famous Linville Golf Club in 1926.

After a devastating flood in 1940, which washed away large portions of the railroad tracks along the Linville River, the railroad was abandoned.

After WWII, the much needed stream of vacationers to the area thankfully resumed.

In 1968, the high-end Grandfather Golf and Country Club was established, giving Linville a second championship golf course. It was followed in 1981 by the opening of the Linville Ridge Country Club on Flat Top Mountain at an elevation of 4,945 feet (1,507 meters).

Today, the town of Linville has become a sought-after summer retreat with beautiful country homes and three exclusive championship golf courses nearby.

Banner Elk / Highlands Region

→ Banner Elk

Banner Elk in Avery County, North Carolina, was founded in 1848 and incorporated in 1911. At that time, Banner Elk’s population was around 250, which grew to a little over 1,100 by 2015.

At an elevation of 3,701 feet (1,128 meters), Banner Elk is known among winter sports enthusiasts for its two large ski resorts, Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain. The third, the Hawk’s Nest, is an all-tubing park.

During the summer season, Banner Elk offers hiking, fishing, whitewater rafting and is also home to an Alpaca Farm.

The year-round tourist season and two exclusive country clubs have drawn an increasing number of restaurants, artists and wineries to the area.

Valle Crucis / Highlands Region

→ Valle Crucis

The unincorporated community of Valle Crucis in Watauga County, North Carolina, is situated along the Watauga River at an elevation of 2,677 feet (816 meters).

The name Valle Crucis is Latin for valley of the cross, referring to the three creeks, Dutch Creek, Clark Creek and Craborchard Creek, which drain the valley and appear to form a cross in the landscape at their confluence.

Comprising of an Upper Valley and a Lower Valley, Valle Crucis formed in the 1840s around an Episcopal mission in the Upper Valley.

What is known today as Broadstone Road and the northern section of NC 194 in the Lower Valley, was in the 1850s the Caldwell Watauga Turnpike, which connected Valle Crucis with Lenoir in Caldwell County to the southeast and Tennessee to the west, attracting travelers to the area.

In the 1890s, Valle Crucis emerged as a cross road town, after a second toll road was built through the Upper Valley. The Valle Crucis, Shawneehaw and Elk Park Turnpike linked Valle Crucis with the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Railroad, whose line ended in Elk Park NC.

During that time, as business was picking up, the Taylor and Mast General Store opened at its present location in 1898, followed by the Watauga Supply Company at the location of today’s Mast Store Annex in 1909.

Over the decades, Valle Crucis has retained much of its warm and welcoming rustic charm and has attracted several high-end bed and breakfasts and inns to the area.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Beacon Heights Overlook, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Beacon Heights Overlook

At an elevation of around 4,340 feet (1,323 meters), the Beacon Heights Overlook offers spectacular expansive views from its smooth south-facing rock platform. The second north-east-facing rock formation features beautiful views of Grandfather Mountain. The Beacon Heights Trail, which leads to the Beacon Heights Overlook, starts at the parking lot at Milepost 305.2 along the Blue Ridge Parkway and is an easy to moderate 0.4-mile one-way trail.

Grandfather Mountain Overlook, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Grandfather Mountain Overlook

At an elevation of 4,154 feet (1,266 meters), the Grandfather Mountain Overlook at Milepost 306.6 offers visitors the opportunity to stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoy stunning long-range views of Grandfather Mountain with its four peaks and surrounding forests.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Linville Falls, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Linville Falls

Considered one of the most visited, popular and beautiful waterfalls in North Carolina, Linville Falls offers photographers and hikers picturesque views from several overlooks along its moderate to strenuous trails ranging in length from 1-mile to 1.6-mile round-trip. It is also said that a number of trail scenes for the film “The Last of the Mohicans” were filmed at the falls.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Linville Falls Picnic Area, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Linville Falls Picnic Area

After a visit to Linville Falls, you may want to stop at the Linville Falls Picnic Area for an outdoor picnic in a peaceful and serene forest setting along the Linville River. The park is located at Milepost 316.5 along the Blue Ridge Parkway, just opposite to the road leading to Linville Falls.

Linville Falls Winery, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Linville Falls Winery

Beautifully situated in the countryside, the Linville Falls Winery is located just 0.7 miles (1.1 km) north off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 317. Their tasting room offers a variety of wines, several of which are made from grapes grown on their estate. They also grow their own blackberries and blueberries, from which they make their Blackberry and Blueberry Wines.

Elk Mountain Riding Company, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Elk Mountain Riding Company

Located circa 8 miles (13 km) north from Milepost 317 off the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Elk Mountain Riding Company offers 2-hour horseback riding tours for all skill levels, taking participants along beautiful trails to enjoy breathtaking long-range mountain top views.

Participants must be at least 8 years old. Reservations are required.

Linville Caverns, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Linville Caverns

A tour of Linville Caverns takes visitors “inside” Humpback Mountain. During the 30-minute guided tour, visitors learn about the unique formations inside the caverns and can see the underground stream, which led to the discovery of the caverns back in 1822. Along the paved walkway explorers of all ages can also look into the Bottomless Pool and have a peek into total darkness.

English Farmstead Cheese, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ English Farmstead Cheese

English Farmstead Cheese is a family run business, which has become known for its cheeses, which they produce on site from the milk of their own cows that graze on their nearby pastures. Located just 5 miles (8 km) south of the Blue Ridge Park on US 221, their red painted farm store offers a variety of hard cheeses and flavored soft cheese spreads.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: North Toe River Valley Overlook, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ North Toe River Valley Overlook

The west-facing North Toe River Valley Overlook at Milepost 318.4 is a popular spot for mountain sunset views. Less known, however, is that this section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the only section that follows closely an earlier scenic highway, the Crest of the Blue Ridge Highway, which was built in 1912, but whose construction was abandoned by 1917, when the U.S. entered WWI.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Chestoa View Overlook, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Chestoa View Overlook

At Milepost 320.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway hidden by trees is a small parking area, from which visitors can access the Chestoa View Overlook with its two viewing platforms after a short hike. A rock-walled platform, which is located circa 0.2 miles (0.3 km) from the parking area, offers spectacular long-range views overlooking Linville Gorge. Visitors, following the 0.6-mile (1 km) Chestoa View Trail, reach a second observation platform with stunning views of Table Rock Mountain.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Bear Den Overlook, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Bear Den Overlook

The Bear Den Overlook at Milepost 323 on the Blue Ridge Parkways offers panoramic south facing views of Dibson Knob and Jackson Knob from the parking area at an elevation of 3,359 feet (1,024 meters).

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: North Cove Overlook, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ North Cove Overlook

From an elevation of 2,815 feet (858 meters), the North Cove Overlook at Milepost 327.3 along the Blue Ridge Parkway offers long-range views down Pepper Creek Valley. It is situated above a challenging 13-mile (21-km) railroad section that connects Spruce Pine NC with Marion NC through multiple loops and 18 railroad tunnels.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: The Historic Orchard at Altapass, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ The Historic Orchard at Altapass

Located at Milepost 328.3 just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, The Historic Orchard at Altapass is an over 100-year old apple orchard, where visitors can also pick their own apples during the harvest season from September to October. During that time, the orchard is also a favorite stop for thousands of migrating monarch butterflies. Several short, easy to moderate hiking trails lead through the orchard along rows of apple trees and two scenic lookout points.

© Lavilo LLC, North Carolina. All rights reserved. Title: Lake James State Park, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
→ Lake James State Park

Camping, swimming, canoeing, hiking, fishing, mountain biking, picnicking and much more, Lake James State Park located on the shores of 6,812-acre Lake James is a popular destination for all of these activities year round. The Park consists of the Catawba River Area and the Paddy’s Creek Area each a few miles apart. Camping is only permitted in the Catawba River Area while swimming is only allowed in the Paddy’s Creek Area.

South Creek Vineyards & Winery, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ South Creek Vineyards & Winery

Located 4 miles (6.4 km) southeast of Nebo NC, South Creek Vineyards & Winery offers Bordeaux style wines in an idyllic countryside setting. Their red wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc as well as a signature blend Maestro, a classic Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot.

Silver Fork Vineyard & Winery, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Silver Fork Vineyard & Winery

Located in the lovely countryside between Morganton NC and Marion NC, Silver Fork Vineyard & Winery specializes in European grape varieties that they grow on their estate. The tasting room offers Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as well as other wines. It also features a large outdoor patio, from which guests can overlook the vineyard and enjoy amazing views of the South Mountains.

The Inn at Glen Alpine, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ The Inn at Glen Alpine

The Inn at Glen Alpine is a charming bed & breakfast located circa 6 miles (10 km) west of Morganton NC. The lovely 100-year old home has a magnificent covered wrap-around porch and beautiful grounds and features four nicely appointed rooms. A multi-course gourmet breakfast is served either in the dining room or on the large porch, when the weather allows. Guests also have the option to book a romantic private dinner with wines from nearby wineries.

Morganton / Highlands Region

→ Morganton

Morganton NC was founded in 1777 subsequent to the formation of Burke County in the same year. Burke County was named for Dr. Thomas Burke (1747-1783), a member of the Continental Congress and Governor of North Carolina.

Morganton was initially called Morganborough and is the county seat of Burke County. Morganton was named for Daniel Morgan (1736-1802), who is considered one of the best battlefield tacticians during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783).

Due its cooler summer climate, the North Carolina Supreme Court held its August Sessions in the Burke County Courthouse each year from 1847 to 1861, a major event at that time for a town with a population of only 558.

The railroad reached Morganton in 1868, bringing summer vacationers to the town.

In 1875, the North Carolina General Assembly with the help of Samuel Tate passed a bill, which brought the Western North Carolina Insane Asylum to Morganton. The facility opened in 1883. Its name changed to the Broughton Hospital in 1959.

In 1891 with a population of 1,557, Samuel Tate helped to influence legislation to move the North Carolina School for the Deaf from Raleigh to Morganton. The school opened in 1894.

Today, Morganton, a town of 17,000, has an upcoming food and arts community amid a well-preserved historic downtown area.

Museum of North Carolina Minerals, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Museum of North Carolina Minerals

The Museum of North Carolina Minerals is a small and educational museum, where children and adults can learn interactively about the rich mining history of the region and the geological activities, which led to its vast mineral deposits. You can also learn about how to identify and classify minerals, a skill which may come handy when visiting one of the historic mines in the area.

Emerald Village, Highlands Region, Blue Ridge Mountains
→ Emerald Village

Emerald Village is a mining complex where visitors can enjoy several different mining related activities, such as museums, a self-guided tour of the Bon Ami Mine, various shops and of course The Gemstone Mine, where you can dig through your own bucket and find your very own gems. The staff can help you to identify what you have found. They can even cut, polish and mount your nice little gem into a very personal piece of jewelry.

For serious miners, who want a true and authentic mining experience, Emerald Village also has you covered. At a separate location, you can dig through a real dump of an old mine and enjoy the hard labor it entails.