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Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Counties most commonly associated with Western North Carolina.
Counties most commonly associated with Western North Carolina.

North Carolina Mountains is the mountain region in western North Carolina.


The far western portion of Western North Carolina includes the counties of Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Swain, Haywood, Jackson, and Macon. Much of this land is covered by National Forest.

Counties just to the east of this group (sometimes called Land-of-Sky) include Buncombe (home to Western North Carolina's largest city, Asheville), Henderson, Madison, and Transylvania.

The northern counties of Western North Carolina are commonly known as the state's High Country. Centered around Boone, the High Country boasts the area's most popular ski resorts and is known for it's production of Fraser Fir Christmas Trees. High Country counties include Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey (home to Mount Mitchell, highest mountain on the East Coast).

On the eastern end of Western North Carolina lie the counties of Burke, Caldwell, McDowell, Polk - known as The First Peak of the Blue Ridge, and Rutherford.

  • Asheville - Scenic mountain city, known for its cultural establishments and liberal culture.
  • Hickory
  • Morganton- Home to Linville Gorge, Lake James, and South Mountains State Park.
  • Brevard Highest concentration of waterfalls in the eastern United States.
  • Maggie Valley
  • Cherokee
  • Lenoir
  • Hendersonville
  • Boone - Home of Appalachian State University.
  • Waynesville
  • Cashiers - Nestled on a wooded mountainside in the southernmost part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, sits the city of Cashiers. This charming locale is surrounded by a lush green valley approximately 3,500 feet high surrounded by mountains rising up to 5,000 feet. It's not the foothills, but the southern crest of North Carolina‚Äôs Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • Murphy - The westernmost town of significance.
  • Wilkesboro - Hosts the annual MerleFest music festival, the largest bluegrass and folk music festival in the United States.
  • Blowing Rock - Beautiful village at the edge of the John's River Gorge.
  • Weaverville - Large art community. Home of the annual Weaverville Art Safari and Art in Autumn art festivals.
  • Appalachian Trail
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Lake James Scenic lake with hiking trails and views of Table Rock. Shortoff, and Hawksbill mountains.
  • Wilson's Creek Nationally designated wilderness area with waterfalls and trails.
  • Linville Gorge The Grand Canyon of North Carolina.
  • [Watauga Lake] Third cleanest lake in America with over 100+ miles of shore line and over 35,000 acres of surface area. Great for fishing and boating.
  • The First Peak of the Blue Ridge A beautiful area in NC's Blue Ridge Mountains. The wonderful blend of rural atmosphere and the small town charm of Historic Saluda, Tryon and Columbus makes this a great place to visit! Enjoy winery tours and tastings, galleries, inspired shops, great restaurants, and of course, wonderful inns and cabins for a cozy getaway. 800-440-7848


The mountains of western North Carolina are among the oldest on Earth, and contain the highest mountain (Mount Mitchell), deepest gorge (Linville Gorge), and several of highest waterfalls (Whitewater Falls, Glassmine Falls, etc.) in the eastern United States, and is also home to the oldest river in North America (the New River) and the two most visited National Parks in the country (the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park).

The region also has a stunning diversity of plant and animal life, more, in fact, than the whole of Europe.


You may hear natives speaking Appalachian English, a dialect distinct from Southern American English. This dialect is said to be one of the most maintained and well-concentrated dialects within the whole United States. People living in the Appalachian dialect area pronounce the word "Appalachia" as App-a-latch-ah, while those who live outside of the Appalachian dialect area or at its outer edges tend to pronounce it App-a-lay-csh-ah. If you visit the Qualla Boundary (Cherokee Indian Reservation), you may hear the native language Cherokee spoken.

Pronunciation examples:

  • Creek is pronounced "crik"
  • Greasy is pronounced "greezy"
  • In is pronounced "eeyuhn"
  • Pen is pronounced "pin"
  • Wash is pronounced "worsh"

Vocabulary examples:

  • Blinds- window shades
  • Buggy- shopping cart
  • Chaw- chewing tobacco
  • Clean- entirely
  • Directly ("dereckly")- soon, immediately
  • Fixin- getting ready to do something
  • Polecat- a skunk
  • Reckon- think, guess, suppose
  • Swan- swear, declare to be true
  • Touched- crazy
  • Yonder- further away than "here" or "there"

Get in

By plane, the closest airport to most of the region is the Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) located fifteen miles southeast of Asheville. The nearest regional airport to Boone is the Tri-Cities Regional Airport (TRI) located between Johnson City and Bristol, Tennessee. The next nearest international airports are the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP) in Greenville, South Carolina, Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) in Charlotte, North Carolina, and McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS) in Knoxville, Tennessee.

By train, the closest Amtrak [1] station to the region is in Greenville, South Carolina.

By car, two major Interstate highways cross the region: Interstate 40, which traverses east-west, and Interstate 26, which traverses north-south. The scenic Blue Ridge Parkway also runs through the region.

By bus, Greyhound [2] has stops in Asheville and Waynesville.

  • The Biltmore Estate, in Asheville, +1 828 274-6333, [3]. George Vanderbilt's European-inspired chateau. The 8,000-acre estate features winery, restaurants, Inn at Biltmore Estate, horseback riding and more.
  • The Carl Sandburg Home, in Flat Rock, +1 828 693-4178, [4]. Daily 9AM-5PM. The famed poet and biographer spent his later years on this 263-acre estate with his wife, who raised prize-winning goats.
  • Oconluftee Indian Village and Museum of the Cherokee Indian, in Cherokee, 1-800-438-1601, [5]. Sample the ancient Cherokee Native American heritage.
  • North Carolina Arboretum, in Bent Creek, +1 828 665-2492, [6]. Open daily. Features a visitor education center, greenhouse complex, gardens and loop trail on 424 acres. $6 per car.
  • Wheels Through Time Museum, On U.S. 19 in Maggie Valley, +1 828 926-6266, [7]. Open daily April through November. For motorcycle enthusiasts, this 40,000-square-foot museum features 250 rare and vintage motorcycles and automobiles.
  • Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Chimney Rock Park
  • Linville Gorge and South Mountains State Park


Keep in mind that Clay, Graham, Mitchell, and Yancey counties are "dry", meaning no alcohol is sold within their borders. In most other counties in the region, if you want to buy liquor by the bottle you must do it at state-run ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Commission) stores rather than at a traditional liquor store. The exceptions to this are Yadkin and Madison counties, which, though not "dry" do not have ABC stores. ABC store hours vary by county. The alcohol laws of North Carolina prohibit the sale of alcohol after 2AM Monday through Saturday, and from 2AM until noon on Sundays.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


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