Up the road from campus a little way is a swimming hole with a rope swing that a lot of people like to go to in the summer months. It's up Winkler Creek Road a short way and there is limited parking on a gravel shoulder beside the already narrow, winding road. To get there from 321 south, take a right on hwy 105 (at the double-decker Wendy's) and then take the very next left at the light by Peabody's. From this road take the next right, which is Winkler Creek Road. Follow it for about a half a mile or so. On a hot summer day, you will see cars parked at the spot, so you'll know it right away. On the left side of the road, hike down the path aways, watching for dog poop and the occasional broken bottle and the stream and swimming hole will open in front of you. Take care on the rocks as you cross to the rope swing. There is a sitting area, with wooden benches on one side of the creek and in the middle of the water are several huge rocks you can sit on. On a sunny day in August, it's the perfect way to cool off.
Blue Ridge Parkway – Moses H. Cone Memorial Park
Mile Post 293.5
We parked our car here and headed for the nearby Cone Manor House (Flat Top Manor) and Craft Center. Flat Top Manor, the summer home built by the wealthy textile magnate Moses H. Cone, now serves as a visitor information center and a regionally focused bookstore.
The estate included Flat Top Mountain and Rich Mountain, landscaped extensively with maple, hemlock, and white pine. The 23-room mansion was exquisite, filled with art and objects from Asia. The Cones were almost self sufficient, with their own dairy, vegetable gardens, carbide gas plant, and local employees.
The state includes about 25 miles of beautiful carriage path, which are popular with horseback riders, hikers, runners, and cross-country skiers.
Blue Ridge Parkway – Bear Den Overlook
Mile Post 323
This was our southernmost stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We were able to see some photographs of wild Turkeys here, although the overlook is meant for observing that side of Humpback Mountain tat once sheltered a bear’s den, offering protection from both weather and hunters.
Family Fun Places
In addition to Tweetsie Railroad, the following are fun places for kids:
Fun'N'Wheels: Go Karts, Bumper Cars, etc. www.funandwheels.com
2788 Highway 105, Boone 828-262-3780
Skate World: Roller Skating
6880 US Hwy 421 N, Vilas (just outside Boone) 828-297-3296
Magic Moutntain Mini Golf: Miniature Golf
1675 NC Highway 105, Boone 828-265-4653
Greater Foscoe Mining Co.: Mine for gems in a flume mine, guaranteed find in every bucket! www.facetsoffoscoe.com/
8998 NC Highway 105, Foscoe (just outside Boone) 828-963-5928
Family Billiards: Lunch/Dinner & Pool Tables www.family-billiards.com/
9021 Hwy 105 South, Foscoe (just outside Boone) 828-963-6260
Mystery Hill: Science, Optical Illusion, & Natural Phenomena in hands-on environment www.mysteryhill-nc.com
129 Mystery Hill La (NC 321 South), Blowing Rock, 828-264-2792
Boone Bowling Center: www.bowling2u.com/centers/find_detail.asp?ID=1990
261 Boone Heights Dr, Boone 828-264-3166
New Market Regal Cinemas: Multiplex Movie Theater
210 New Market Center, Boone, 828-262-3800
Grandfather Mountain: High Country's #1 Must See!
Grandfather Mountain is a spectacular must see while visiting the area. It is one of the most biologically diverse mountains in the world. It is recognized by the United Nations as an International Biosphere Reserve. (Some other exclusive members of the reserve network include Mt. Olympus in Greece, Canada's Niagara Escarpment, and the African Serengeti!)
Grandfather Mountain supports 73(!) rare and endangered species, including 32 that are globally imperiled (20 or fewer occurences worldwide!). As many as 200 species of birds have been found here so make sure to bring your binoculars!
Height: 5,946 feet above sea level
Age: The mountain itself is 730 million years old. The rock underneath, specifically Wilson Creek Gneiss Formation is 1.2 billion years old.
Acreage: Total of 3,300 acres, 2,700 of which are protected by the Nature Conservancy.
Habitat Types: 16 separate communities, defined by altitude, weather, forest, and topography.
Grandfather Weather Records:
Average Rainfall: 63.01 inches per year
Average Snowfall: 55.06 inches per year
Lowest Temperature: -32 degrees (Jan '85)
Highest Temperature: 83 degrees (Aug '83)
Highest Wind: 107 mph (Feb '08)
Most Snow: 116 inches (winter '95-'96)
Grandfather Mountain is open year round.
Spring 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Summer 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Fall 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Winter 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Adult 13-59 $15
Senior 60+ $13
Child 4-12 $7
Children under 4 Free
Admission includes access to the Nature Museum, Animal Habitats, Hiking Trails, and Mile High Swinging Bridge. There are also a restaurant, fudge shop, and gift shop. See my additional Grandfather Mountain tip for specific information on what to do/see at Grandfather Mountain. Allow at least 2 hours here, longer if you plan to hike.
Grandfather Mountain and the views from it are spectacular year round, but I think best in fall and winter - October 5-25 is peak fall color. See the website for the (flower) Blooming Schedule (April through November) and Calendar of Events. The Highland Games and Gathering of Scottish Clans is the biggest event celebrated each July (second full weekend).
Very little walking is absolutely necessary to enjoy your visit. You can do as much or little as you want. Be sure to read and follow all the safety rules (avoid ledges!).
Because of sharp, hairpin curves near the top of the mountain, jointed vehicles and motor homes more than 28 feet long are not permitted on the 2 mile summit road. Bicycles are also prohibited.