North Carolina Mountains Overview
In the western corner of the state, the North Carolina Mountains boast three world-renowned mountain ranges: the Appalachian, Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountains. With them come year-round vacations for any and all nature enthusiasts. No matter which season of outdoor activities you prefer, these ranges cover it - from gazing at the colorful fall trees to carving the snow in High Country in the winter to spring hiking the Appalachian Trail to descending on class IV and V rapids in the summer. And with HomeAway's luxury villas and apartments, you be close to all of the action.
Here's a breakdown of the main North Carolina Mountain regions:
With so many things to do in High Country, the elevation will be the last thing that's dizzying. In the warm months, there are pristine trails made for hiking and biking, and stunning rivers and streams where fishing is more than just allure. At the Grandfather Trout Stream, the three ponds are stocked with rainbow trout - no license required. If you want to wade in the waters of history, the New River is ironically the oldest river in the country and the second oldest in the world. Fly fishing feels like a religion here, and if you've never been before, no worries, there are plenty of helpful fishing guides.
Bring the kids on a ride on the Tweetsie Railroad, which is a Wild West-themed amusement park in Blowing Rock. Though there are an assortment of exhilarating rides, the park is known for its two vintage steam locomotives, complete with coal-fired engines. While in you're in town, make sure to satisfy your shopping fix in the local shops.
In July, you can find the Highland Games annual Scottish festival in Grandfather Mountain. Don't miss a drive down Blue Ridge Parkway, among the country's most scenic byways, which spans 250 miles in North Carolina, from Cherokee to the Virginia-North Carolina border.
During the winter months, shred the powder on the Appalachian, Beech or Sugar mountains.
Asheville and the Foothills
Asheville, western North Carolina's largest city, is tucked into the mountains. It's here you'll discover the biggest private home in the U.S., called Biltmore. This Chateauesque-styled mansion was built by George Vanderbilt and covers 8000 acres. In highest class fashion, the home also doubles as a winery - in fact, the nation's most visited. If you're searching for a savory bottle of vintage to bring home, look no further.
Mount Mitchell State Park
No trip to Asheville is complete without a visit to Mount Mitchell State Park. At 6,684 feet, Mount Mitchell is the highest mountain in the eastern part of the U.S. The panoramic vistas around this area will blow you away.
The foothills consist of the transitional terrain between the Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont Plateau, usually referring to the eastern edge of western North Carolina.
Hendersonville hosts the North Carolina Apple Festival that takes place every year in early September. Buy a bushel of some of the tastiest apples you've ever had. After all, there's a reason Henderson County grows 65 percent of all apples in North Carolina.
Considered the front porch of western North Carolina, Black Mountain stirs up gorgeous peaks and a variety of recreational activities. Take a stroll through the historic downtown, go hiking and biking along the area's picturesque trails or hit a round of golf at the famous 747-yard par 6 course - one of the longest in the world. Black Mountain has a number of festivals, including Sourwood Festival, an arts fest which draws more than 30,00 from across the country each year, Black Mountain Art and Crafts Show, L.E.A.F. Festival and Art in Bloom.
To wash away your worries, take a dip in the hot mineral pools in Hot Springs, North Carolina. These therapeutic waters define relaxation on vacation. That's only part of the reason Hot Springs was voted "Best Small Mountain Town" by the readers of Blue Ridge Outdoors. It is surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest and 3,500-foot peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
With the Land of the Waterfalls, the country's first fly fishing trail and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it's not hard to see why Smoky Mountains has been stunning visitors for years. Interestingly, the smoke-like fog that hangs over the mountains comes from rain and evaporation from trees.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park sits along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. The park features all sorts of flora and fauna -17,000 species of organisms to be exact, from black bears to salamanders, spring wildflowers to old-growth forests. Explore the natural and cultural history of the Appalachian Mountains here at America's most visited national park.
Whether you're looking for an adventurous family vacation or a remote romantic retreat, the North Carolina Mountains have it all.