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Blowing Rock, North Carolina
—  Town  —

Location of Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Coordinates: 36°7′47″N 81°40′21″W / 36.12972°N 81.6725°W / 36.12972; -81.6725
Country  United States
State  North Carolina
Counties Watauga, Caldwell
 - Mayor J.B. Lawrence
 - Total 3.0 sq mi (7.8 km2)
 - Land 3.0 sq mi (7.7 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.1 km2)
Elevation 3,566 ft (1,087 m)
Population (2000)
 - Total 1,418
 - Density 477.9/sq mi (184.5/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 28605
Area code(s) 828
FIPS code 37-06500[1]
GNIS feature ID 1009487[2]

Blowing Rock is a town in North Carolina, situated in both Caldwell and Watauga counties. The population was 1,418 at the 2000 census. However, during the summer the town's population increases to about 10,000. These "summertime residents" consist mainly of people from the State of Florida who come to Blowing Rock to escape the heat and humidity of the Deep South.

The Caldwell County portion of Blowing Rock is part of the HickoryLenoirMorganton Metropolitan Statistical Area, while the Watauga County portion is part of the Boone Micropolitan Statistical Area.



The observation deck at the Blowing Rock.

The town of Blowing Rock takes its name from an unusual rock formation which juts over 1,500 feet (460 m) above the Johns River gorge. Due to the rock's shape and size, wind currents from the gorge often blow vertically, causing light objects to float upwards into the sky. The Blowing Rock area was once fought over by the Cherokee and Catawba Native American tribes. According to legend, two lovers - one from each tribe - were walking near the rocks when the man received a notice to report to his village and go into battle. When his lover urged him to stay with her, he became so distraught that he threw himself off the blowing rock into the gorge. The woman prayed to the Great Spirit to return her lover, and the Spirit complied by sending a gust of wind which blew the man back up the cliff and landed him safely on the blowing rock itself. This story of course is fictional but it was used as a draw for the attraction. In the 80's a billboard in Wilkesboro for Blowing Rock showed two Indians holding hands, one standing on the rock and one "floating". Today "The Blowing Rock" is a popular tourist attraction and is well-known for its superb views of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.

Another popular tourist attraction in Blowing Rock is the Tweetsie Railroad theme park, which is home to the only remaining fully-functional steam engine train in North Carolina. Visitors to Tweetsie can ride the train for three miles (5 km) and enjoy the mountain scenery; the park also contains traditional amusement-park rides and attractions. Other attractions in the Blowing Rock area include the elegant and historic Green Park Inn, Mystery Hill, the Blowing Rock Country Club, and the Mariam & Robert Hayes Performing Arts Center, which presents music, dance, and films as well as being the home to a professional theatre company (Blowing Rock Stage Company). On the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway is Moses Cone Memorial Park, which offers scenic views of the surrounding mountains. The park contains the impressive Moses Cone Manor and Estate, and features two large lakes surrounded by forests and trails. These well-maintained trails wind miles, and were once carriage trails for the Cone family. Adjacent to the park is the Blowing Rock Equestrian Preserve, where visitors can board their horses convenient to the trails; there are 25 miles (40 km) of riding and carriage trails in the park. Annual festivals and events in Blowing Rock include: the "Art In The Park" festival, a monthly summertime (May-Oct) event in downtown Blowing Rock where artists of all types set up booths to sell their work to tourists; the "Fourth of July" festival and parade; Blowing Rock Winterfest in January; the Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival in April; Christmas in the Park & Lighting of the Town festivities, including a Holiday Parade; the Symphony by the Lake at Chetola Resort; and the Blowing Rock Charity Horse Show which has been a tradition for 84 years. It is the longest continuously-run horse show in the United States. The show features some of the best horse riders in the Eastern United States.


The rocky outcropping of Blowing Rock in the town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina.

Blowing Rock is located at 36°7′47″N 81°40′21″W / 36.12972°N 81.6725°W / 36.12972; -81.6725 (36.129663, -81.672566),[3] in the Blue Ridge mountain range.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has

  • a total area of 3.0 square miles (7.8 km²).
  • 3.0 square miles (7.7 km²) of it is land and
  • 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²), or 1.00% of total area, is water.


The town's elevation of 3500 to 3600 feet (1067-1097 meters) above sea level results in substantially cooler summer temperatures compared to lowland areas to the east and south. Daytime temperatures in the summer rarely rise above 80 degrees fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius). However, temperatures in the winter are much colder and harsher than would be expected in a southern state. Daytime highs can frequently fall into the 20s or lower. Snow, sleet, and freezing rain are all common in the winter months. Springtime in Blowing Rock is cool and generally pleasant.

Rainfall is moderate; thunderstorms are occasional, and rarely severe.


As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 1,418 people, 663 households, and 387 families residing in the town. The population density was 477.9 people per square mile (184.3/km²). There were 1,524 housing units at an average density of 513.6/sq mi (198.1/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.95% White, 0.35% African American, 0.21% Native American, 0.35% Asian, 0.07% from other races, and 1.06% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.63% of the population.

There are 663 households, of which

  • 16.9% have children under the age of 18 living with them,
  • 52.3% were married couples living together,
  • 4.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and
  • 41.5% were non-families.

35.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.03 persons and the average family size was 2.59.

The population consists of

  • 15.0% under the age of 18,
  • 4.9% from 18 to 24,
  • 20.0% from 25 to 44,
  • 34.1% from 45 to 64, and
  • 26.0% 65 years or older.

The median age is 51 years. For every 100 females there were 86.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.4 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $54,271, and the median income for a family was $66,979. Males had a median income of $45,417 compared to $27,361 for females. The per capita income for the town was $34,294. About 2.9% of families and 9.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.1% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those age 65 or over.


Before 1752, when Bishop August Gottlieb Spangenberg of the Moravian Church visited The Blowing Rock, the windy cliffs of the area were home to the Cherokee and the Catawba Native American tribes.

After the mid-eighteenth century, when hardy Scots-Irish pioneers began to settle in the region, the mountain passes from southern Virginia into Kentucky attracted many colonists, farmers, hunters, and trappers who continued south to the mountains of North Carolina. The first family to settle in Blowing Rock were the Greenes, who were established by the mid-1800s on a site that would become the Green Park Hotel property. Other early settlers in Blowing Rock included the Hayes, Coffey, Bolick, Estes and Storie families. During the American Civil War the mountains of North Carolina often witnessed fierce guerilla warfare between groups of pro-Confederate and pro-Union fighters. To keep their families safe, men leaving for service in the Confederate Army often sent them to Blowing Rock, which became a local refuge from the fighting. After the Civil War many of these veterans would join their families and remain in the Blowing Rock area. At the same time, summer residents began to come up from the nearby city of Lenoir to enjoy the cool fresh air and magnificent mountain views. Seeing the potential of their village to become a haven for well-to-do tourists, the residents of Blowing Rock had their village incorporated into a town on March 11, 1889. The town's first mayor was "Uncle" Joe Clarke, and the town initially had a population of about 300.

Looking southeast at sunset over the foothills of the Blue Ridge.

As word traveled to other parts of the South about the merits of Blowing Rock, more visitors began to arrive, first camping out, and later taking rooms at boarding houses such as the Hayes and Martin Houses on Main Street. Eventually there were more visitors than the existing boarding houses could handle, and so many homes were turned into hotels. The first hotel in Blowing Rock was the Watauga Hotel, built in 1884; the hotel added cottages in 1888. The Green Park Hotel opened in 1891, it was followed eight years later by the Blowing Rock Hotel. Walter Alexander, a prominent local resident, touted the clean air and healthy environment of Blowing Rock; in 1922 he opened his own hotel, called Mayview Manor.

As the tourist economy became Blowing Rock's main industry in the late 1800s, the town was forced to adapt to meeting the needs of tourists. The need for cleaner and better streets (most streets then were simply dirt tracks) led to the paving of the town's streets and highways. Another issue involved the need to build fences to keep farm animals from wandering into town and disturbing visitors - at the time most farms in the area were not fenced. In 1896 the town passed an ordinance which required local farmers to fence in their livestock.

The introduction of the automobile and improved roads early in the twentieth century further eased the journey to Blowing Rock, and visitors began to arrive from as far away as Florida. Today Blowing Rock remains a popular tourist destination for visitors from all over the United States. Due to the town's well-to-do, out-of-state summertime residents, Blowing Rock boasts top-quality restaurants, hotels, golf courses, and other attractions. A recent priority for Blowing Rock's residents has been to preserve and protect the town's historic structures and maintaining the small-town charm and scenery that has attracted so many people for the last 150 years.


The town has a vibrant economy based in part on tourism. A small, quaint downtown area is characterized by numerous shops of varying types, a pleasant public park, and diverse restaurants. The mountainous terrain provides scenic views with long-range vistas from several locations around town, including the Blowing Rock itself.

Most essential services are available in Blowing Rock, in Boone, North Carolina, approximately eight miles away, or elsewhere in the county. The town is served by U.S. Highways 221 and 321 as well as the Blue Ridge Parkway. For other transportation facilities, consult Boone, North Carolina and Watauga County, North Carolina.

Author Tom Robbins was born in Blowing Rock in 1936 before moving to Burnsville, NC in 1943. He recounts some early memories of Blowing Rock in Wild Ducks Flying Backward. Blowing Rock is also home to a popular group referred to as "The Mormish Council". Blowing Rock is currently the home of numerous artists of all types, many of whom use the local scenery for their work. Jan Karon, a native of nearby Lenoir, North Carolina moved to Blowing Rock in the late 1980s to write fiction. Her bestselling Mitford series of novels is set in a small town based on Blowing Rock; she calls the town "Mitford".


  1. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  2. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  
  3. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2000 and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2005-05-03. Retrieved 2008-01-31.  

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Blowing Rock article)

From Wikitravel

Blowing Rock [1] is in the North Carolina Mountains.


Locals are not impressed by Prada or Kate Spade bags. That’s not to say they’re judging, and most of them can hang with the high-falutin’ style, but it is just not necessary for a walk down Main Street or a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. To assimilate yourself, be approachable and friendly – sit down next to the man at the bar with calloused hands. He probably knows the best place to go and walk your dog. Speak to the woman in line in front of you at the grocery store; she might know the best place in town to get a chocolate-infused filet mignon.

With a population that jumps from 1,500 year-round to 8,000 in the summertime, people are used to making new friends. The beauty of Blowing Rock is the dichotomy between the elegant and the down-home. The affluent traveler may find pleasure in the abundance of fine dining and shopping the area has to offer, but walk just fifteen steps and they’ll find the opposite end of the spectrum – quintessential, good, honest, down home, small town charm. They can find it everywhere - from the wait staff and diners at the fifteen table “everything” restaurant on Main Street, to the hikers en route the trail to Little Lost Cove.

If you’re looking for a seedy underbelly, you’re going to have to look pretty hard. Downtown Blowing Rock is about as “Norman Rockwell quaint” as it gets. Children are free to roam in a safe and clean park, while their mothers can shop for antiques and designer clothes, and their fathers can sneak off to Kilwin’s Ice Cream Parlor for a free sample of fudge. A military band plays after the downtown Fourth of July parade every year. Winterfest in January brings ice-carvers and dog-sledders. Mitford Days in September celebrates Blowing Rock’s inspiration for Jan Karon’s book series. Year-round, a bubble machine from the Martin House pours soapy goodness into the air, surrounding you as you stroll. Knight’s on Main has fried oysters every Friday (just try and fight the locals for a table). Canyons Restaurant even heats their building with recycled fryer oil, for crying out loud! This is clean livin’.

Get in

Hope you like driving!

Get around

Take a hike!


Natural beauty and tireless planning for small town elegance.

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Nature abounds in Blowing Rock and the surrounding area. Interested in caving, climbing, hiking, fly-fishing, or waterfall hunting? You’ve come to the right place. And sure, you can drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway and stop off at all of the places with signs, but can you find the Hebron Rock Colony? This virtual staircase of huge boulders with fresh mountain water streaming down will earn your Uncle Frank bragging rights for his “rugged, mountain adventure.” But don’t worry – while he spends time snapping photos, your grandmother can reach the summit without breaking a sweat. And speaking of grandparents, you can drive up to the mile-high swinging bridge of Grandfather Mountain, but do you know where to enter the Profile Trail? It will save you some money, get you in shape, and turn your idea of typical mountain climate inside out. For the price of a hiking permit, you can hike up Grandfather from the very bottom, hitting crazy rainstorms and beautiful warm mossy nooks. If you’re a brave soul, you can reach the top of McRae Peak trail via the wooden ladders, built across sheer faces of the solid rock! Feeling risky? Go jump off of a waterfall’s edge at either Trashcan Falls, or the Snake Pit (aptly named). To find easier access waterfalls, stay on the safe side and hike the Glen Burney trail, or walk the (mostly) paved lane to the crashing Linville Falls. You want something even easier? Take a short jaunt around picturesque Bass Lake to enjoy the scenery and meet some of Blowing Rock’s finest folks getting their daily exercise. And if you really want to dig down deep to find the good stuff, ask one of the locals to direct you to Fairy Hill. Dig under the rocks in the streambed to pull up some genuine, mountain crystals.

If you think that a town so far removed from the metro way of life would be lackluster in the culture department, you would be one hundred percent wrong. The Mariam & Robert Hayes Performing Arts Center provides all sorts of live stage productions, from bluegrass shows to symphonies and to professional productions of plays and musicals. Farthing Auditorium, at nearby Appalachian State University in Boone, hosts a wide variety of events, like the upcoming “The Vagina Monologues,” which features performances by the original cast. Their Appalachian Summer Festival brings to town acts such as Emmylou Harris , Jo Dee Messina, and Russian ballet companies. For the music nerd, the area offers festivals aplenty. The widely known and acclaimed Merlefest celebrates the incredible guitar and banjo picking of Doc and Merle Watson, while the Appalachian Roots Revival features all sorts of Americana, bluegrass, and “newgrass” bands. Want to join an informal jam session? Well, “git your gitar” and head on over to the Todd General Store, where the local musicians and townsfolk gather for good music, flat footin’ and food. Big fan of the Scots? They keep their traditions alive each July by hosting The Highland Games at Grandfather Mountain. With live Celtic music, little girls dancing, and big men throwing logs, it’s all kinds of fun - and a true learning experience, too.

Perhaps you read about the High Country in a magazine – Travel & Leisure named Westglow Spa in Blowing Rock one of its Top Ten Spa Destinations in the world. While perusing Southern Living Magazine, you’ve probably seen some of the estates in the affluent Mayview neighborhood. The neighboring college, Appalachian State University, has been listed consistently among the top 15 "Southern Regional Universities" since the magazine first published in 1986.

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  • a new bag at the Coach Outlet
  • a pair of Seven for all Mankind jeans at Libba's
  • a box of fudge at Kilwin's
  • some hiking gear at Footsloggers
  • a great bottle of wine (and a darn good deli sandwich) at the Blowing Rock Market
  • a pair of Rainbow sandals at Sunset Tees & Hattery
  • a bag full of candy at the Mast General Candy Barrel
  • a book to read in a quiet spot at Tucker's on Main
  • stationary to write home on at Pleasant Papers
  • some funky accessories at Monkee's
  • a super-stylish pair of heels at Sister Act
  • a marionette at G. Whilliker's
  • a shower curtain that your friends will envy at Neaco
  • something to pamper your pooch at The Barking Rock
  • a playmobil set for your nephew at The Incredible Toy Company
  • a fresh peach and some homemade jam at Mother Nature's Produce
  • the list goes on...


And the food… ah, the food. Never was there such a small town with such scrumptious grub. Take out a loan if you have to. Some of the best meals around are right downtown.

  • The famous Best Cellar has a rock room in the cellar where you can enjoy a private party.
  • or you can go nosh on the prosciutto-wrapped, honey-drizzled figs (yes, FIGS) at Bistro Roca.
  • Good luck hunting for the strategically placed hideaway called the Village Café – some call it the best brunch in the world, but it's nearly impossible to get a reservation.

And ask around about the chocolate-infused filet mignon.

You don’t have to go for broke to get a good eating experience, either. Main Street in the morning smells delicious. Seriously – just follow the aroma of freshly-brewed java and steaming croissants to find the best coffee shops in town.

  • Want to visit a Blowing Rock legend? Look for the cluster of men sittin’ outside and shootin’ the breeze, and there you’ll find Sonny’s Restaurant; this “smaller than your mama’s kitchen” place puts out the best tasting sweet potato pancakes you’ll ever eat. (Closed -- March 2009)
  • Storie Street Grille is a favorite for outstanding food, gracious service and casual, yet sophisticated surroundings. At the corner of Storie Street and Main.
  • Woodlands has barbecue and foot-stompin’ bluegrass every night of the week.
  • Pssghetti’s offers white tablecloths and REAL Italian food, but they’ll give your kids crayons, too.
  • Canyons Restaurant, [2], offers an eclectic menu, fun atmosphere, and trans fat free food all overlooking soaring views of the John's River Gorge. They are also the premier live music venue of the High Country. Check out their website at to enjoy the webcam view from their eating deck or to rock out to a live webcast of one of many fantastic bands, including local favorites like The Everybodyfields and national acts like Leon Russell.
  • Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers, 155 Sunset Drive, 828-295-3399


You don’t have to hunt long to find a great cocktail or a fine glass of wine. Blowing Rock isn’t full of goody-two shoeses (sic), it’s just packaged that way. The fabulous Chamber of Commerce brings great wine every spring during the Blue Ridge Wine Festival. And it's a challenge to find a night when one of the bars in Blowing Rock is not packed with locals and tourists, inhibitionless and dancing to a great (or not so great) band. Stone masons chatting with attorneys. Old ladies with their glass of white zin hitting on the boys from the ski patrol. It is quite a sight. Walk into the lounge at Twigs any Saturday night to join the fun and meet some real characters. If you’re feeling really froggy, hit Tijuana Fats and party with the college kids from Appalachian State. No guarantee where you’ll wake up, though.

  • Jenkins Rentals, Sunset Drive, +1 800-438-7803, [3], is a family owned and operated business with a friendly and knowledgeable staff serving Blowing Rock since 1976, that specializes in both vacation rentals and sales of chalets, log cabins, condominiums, and mountain homes within a short distance to the Blowing Rock area and all of the local shopping, dining, and attractions.
  • Chetola Resort, North Main Street, +1 800-243-8652, [4]. Imagine an 87 acre private resort within walking distance of a quaint mountain village, neighboring a 3600 acre National Park and surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. Guests will find first class accommodations in Chetola's Lodge, Luxury Condominiums or the Bob Timberlake Inn at Chetola Resort.
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