Blue Ridge Explorer

"Mentors and Heroes, Photography by David Holt," is on display through May 6 at the Western Office of Archives and History, 175 Riceville Road, Asheville.
When spring finally makes its way into the North Carolina mountains and foothills, you can actually see its progress as the greening of the trees slowly crawls its way up to the higher elevations.
On February 23-26, fans of all things 1980s will descend (or rather ascend) to Beech Mountain Resort and throughout the town for the Sixth Annual Totally '80s Retro Ski Weekend.
A new brochure, “Winter Hikes, Excellent Views,” offered by the Burke County Tourism Development Authority, features five unique winter hiking trails as well as cross-country skiing information.
Despite recent wildfires in our region, the mountains and foothills of Western North Carolina offer thousands of square miles of scenic beauty, and winter views are often more breathtaking with no leaves obstructing the sights. 
Looking for something different and memorable to celebrate the holidays this year? We invite you to discover special holiday treasures in the North Carolina mountains and foothills.
Every fall park rangers and visitor center desks are asked, "When are the leaves going to be at their peak?" The answer is...
Check out these amazing opportunities to enjoy some unique heritage events in the NC mountains and foothills!
Fall is a season for great festivals. North Carolina State Parks is hosting a signature Centennial Celebration Saturday, August 27 and Sunday, August 28 at Mount Mitchell State Park, located on the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. 
In celebration of our National Parks and National Heritage Areas, a nationwide road trip, Feast to the Beat, will make a stop in Asheville on August 4-5, with a concert to benefit the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership and the Blue Ridge Music Trails of NC, plus a day-long special event at the Parkway Visitor Center.
Thinking of traveling to a cool place for your summer vacation? Then we invite you to come to a really cool place, both literally and figuratively speaking.
Chase away the winter chill with lively traditional music and dancing throughout the mountains and foothills of North Carolina.
Holiday lights brighten the winter nights and bring a special glow to this festive season all across North Carolina's mountains and foothills. Handmade crafts, choose 'n cut trees, and more make holidays in the North Carolina mountains and foothills a special experience.
Every fall visitors to Western North Carolina ask when will the autumn leaf colors be at their best? And of course, the answer is elusive, because the color peaks at different times and places,
Music is part of the family for the performers at the Blue Ridge Music Trails Traditions concert set for Thursday, September 17, at 7 pm at the Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby, NC. 
Looking for great traditional mountain music to flavor up your visit to the North Carolina mountains and foothills? We invite you to get on the Back Roads to the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina!
Last year's Banjopalooza "Traditions" concert sold out, and we're expecting a great crowd again this year. Plan to be part of the fun on Saturday, August 22, at Highland Brewing Company in Asheville.
In early July, join the celebration of the life and contributions of Burnsville native and music pioneer Lesley Riddle. Go off the beaten path to discover great traditional mountain music.
As the weather warms up, our mountains and foothills come alive with the sounds of the fiddle, banjo, guitar, and other traditional musical instruments.
On August 25, 2016, the National Park Service turns 100! The Centennial will kick off a second century of stewardship of America’s national parks by engaging communities through recreation, conservation, and historic preservation programs, and will celebrate achievements of the past 100 years.  
Did you know that the Cherokee lived in many places in the Southern Appalachians? Cherokee historical sites abound in the western part of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.
Start the year off in the great outdoors when all the state parks in North Carolina will be hosting First Day Hikes.
Music is part of the family for the performers at the Blue Ridge Music Trails "Traditions” Concert, set for Saturday, November 29, at 7:30 pm at the White Horse Black Mountain in Black Mountain, NC.
What weekend should you go to Grandfather Mountain in western North Carolina to see the fall colors at the peak of perfection? There's a map that was created by scientists at Appalachian State that attempts to answer that very question.
Featured are five of our favorite drives to take to enjoy our region's fall beauty. Learn more and start planning your fall foliage adventure today!
This Labor Day weekend, explore the diverse Blue Ridge heritage of the mountains and foothills of North Carolina.
Featuring award-winning banjo virtuoso Jens Kruger with Uwe Kruger, playing bluegrass, clawhammer, classical and jazz styles on the banjo and guitar; brothers Travis and Trevor Stuart playing banjo and fiddle styles from Haywood County, and banjo player, vocalist, and “all day talker” Laura Boosinger as emcee.
As warm weather settles in and summer vacations arrive, let the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area help you make plans to visit the attractions and destinations in our Blue Ridge mountains that are sure to build great memories.
We are excited to announce the release of a brand new website,, in support of the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina
There are special places in our country that merit the Congressional honor of being designated a National Heritage Area.
Planning a visit to the North Carolina mountains and foothills?
The new Earl Scruggs Center honoring one of the nation's premier banjo artists will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, January 11.
The holidays are especially festive in the mountains and foothills of North Carolina.
Hear some great guitar picking from three generations of star performers on Saturday, November 30, at 8 pm at the White Horse Black Mountain Music Hall in Black Mountain.
Visitors and residents can still enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway, the most visited unit of the National Park Service, even with a federal government shutdown.
This Labor Day weekend offers visitors and residents alike many opportunties to enjoy the traditions and events of Western North Carolina.
Plan your weekend and attend two major heritage events in the quaint towns of Burnsville and Spruce Pine, about an hour north of Asheville, NC. 
Every June, thousands of visitors flock to Western North Carolina for the spectacular annual display of rhododendron blooms.
Western North Carolina National Parks annouce opening schedules.
April has been named North Carolina Beer Month, which gives us a reason to celebrate everything beer! 
For centuries, literally, folks have been following the French Broad River into Madison County to hear the finest in traditional music.
Travelers to this region who enjoy museums will find a wealth of opportunity to visit sites large and small, places that feature everything from local history and fine art to moonshine and motorcycles.
Looking for some fun during the "holiday week?" Check out these one-of-kind events and activities happening in the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area between December 26th and December 31st.
Holiday enchantment lies around every bend this year in the mountains and foothills of North Carolina.  Here are just a few events to tickle your fancy.
The arrival of the holiday season provides an opportunity to enjoy many long-standing traditions in our region, including "choosing and cutting" the perfect Christmas tree for your home.
Lenoir, NC, a small town in the foothills of Western North Carolina, carries the distinction of having amassed the largest collection of public outdoor sculpture of any community its size in the U.S
Festivals abound in October throughout the mountains and foothills of North Carolina.  Here are just a few to choose from this weekend and later in the month.  Check our events pages for more!
One of the region's oldest and most beloved summertime music events, Shindig on the Green, has its roots in a festival organized in 1928 by well-known musician and folk historian, Bascom Lamar Lunsford.  Lunsford gathered performers to present traditional mountain music and dance to the public in what evolved into the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival which continues today every August.
Free Family Fun Events In or Near Asheville in June- Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Day!  Bring your whole family (and chairs) for a day of FREE fun at the Vance Birthplace State Historic Site on Saturday, June 9, from 11 am to 4 pm.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, affectionately known as "America's Favorite Drive" and the "Main Street" of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, is now open the entire length of the roadway! Also -Quilt Stories, Music; Craft and Food Event at Vance Birthplace; Spending time outdoors; plus many FESTIVALS!
Tailgate Markets Bloom - Springtime Festivals - Pottery - River Cane Basket Weaving - Music - Day Trip to Small Towns and Wineries!
The Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA) is hosting a second bus tour in April which will visit the historic site of the Battle of Asheville on April 28, 2012, the 146th anniversary of the battle.  
We Love Our Trout! The 4,000 miles of cool, clear mountain streams and the many lakes in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina offer anglers more fishing opportunities than can be found in any other state in the Southeast. 
In a benefit concert for their Arts in Education program, the Tryon Fine Arts Center is bringing together blues musicians living in the area who have a following from coast to coast to play a nonstop night of music from 4:30 – 10:30 pm in the lobby and on stage at TFAC.
Also, plan Ahead for Springtime Fun May 17 & 18! "Wine-ing" Our Way Through the Yadkin Valley.  Join us for our first trip! Four vineyards. Two museums. Two narrated small town tours. Great food. No driving. No cooking. No worries.
There's something extra special about celebrating the holidays in a place of historical significance, a site where families and friends from long ago have gathered to share in wintertime traditions. The mountains and foothills of Western North Carolina have many such places and events that bring the holidays of yesteryear alive.
Get ready for the holiday season by training your taste buds at the 5th annual Highlands Culinary Weekend, Nov. 10-13 in beautiful Highlands, NC.
Get ready for the holiday season by training your taste buds at the 5th annual Highlands Culinary Weekend, Nov. 10-13 in beautiful Highlands, NC.
A great reason to celebrate the fall season is the opening of the beautiful new Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, Saturday, October 1. Ribbon cutting will be at 10 am, with activities scheduled throughout the day.
On Saturday, October 1, the public is invited to celebrate the arrival of the 2011 fall color season with a hike through the crisp autumn woods led by a National Park Service Ranger, followed by two musical performances by traditional artists at the Parkway Visitor Center. This FREE event is sponsored by the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership.
Dogs love the North Carolina mountains and foothills, and there are many dog-friendly places and activities for your canine friends, as well as your human ones. Here are just a few:
Discover the wonderful wines of Western North Carolina in this summer’s Yadkin River Wine Trail Festivals, a series of wine festivals showcasing the wines of the five Yadkin River Wine Trail vineyards.
A relaxing pace; cool, clean, mountain air; refreshing activities; unsurpassed scenic beauty and hospitality that can't be beat--that's summer at Sugar Mountain, in the High Country of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. Read about this and many more summertime activities in the mountains and foothills of North Carolina.
Fire On the Mountain returns to Downtown Spruce Pine, NC, with regionally and nationally renowned blacksmiths demonstrating their skills from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday, April 30th.
Transylvania County Celebrates 150 Years--In 1861, Transylvania County, known as the "Land of the Waterfalls," was formed from Henderson and Jackson Counties, and this year, will celebrate its sesquicentennial with special events throughout the year.
Getting Ready for Fly Fishing Season- The cold creeks and streams crisscrossing the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina offer some of the best trout fishing on the East Coast, and now there’s a special trail to help fly fishing enthusiasts find it.
Skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, sledding, winter hiking...the cold season offers much for those who enjoy being outdoors in winter. Six resorts in Western North Carolina offer some of the best winter sports east of the Rockies.
Holiday lights create a special festive glow in villages, towns and cities throughout the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.  Brighten your holiday with a visit to one of these sparkling communities:
If you're looking for something a little different to do with your family this fall, something authentic, meaningful and memorable, head to Western North Carolina, where the rich heritage of the Southern Appalachians comes alive at every bend in the road.
Western North Carolina is known for its rich craft heritage, traditions which will be celebrated throughout the region during American Craft Week, October 1-10.
How much string would it take to fly a kite a mile high? Well, lots, actually, at least 5,280 feet. But you can do it with a much shorter line by flying your kite a mile above sea level, high up on Beech Mountain at the Eighth Annual Mile High Kite Festival on Labor Day Weekend.
The thriving craft industry in Western North Carolina has its roots in both Native American and European immigrant traditions and is one of the reasons the region was designated as a National Heritage Area.
If there's one thing folks in the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area know and love, it's music and dancing.  In the summer, free concerts, dances, and festivals abound throughout the region.
Few people may know that modern forest conservation got its start right here in Western North Carolina, at a forestry school started by Dr. Carl Schenck, forest manager for George Vanderbilt's estate.  In 1898 Schenk started Biltmore Forest School, the nation’s first school of forestry.  It is now known as the Cradle of Forestry in America.
Great news for travelers! Just in time to see springtime's flowery show, the stretch of Interstate 40 in Western North Carolina near the Tennessee border that has been closed by a rockslide since October reopened this week.
Springtime is particularly beautiful in mid-April in the Western North Carolina mountains and foothills.  Dogwoods are just beginning to show their shy faces, red bud trees blush along roadsides, and showy azaleas greet travelers with waves of vivid purples, pinks, reds and whites.
Looking for a place for your family to celebrate spring and our mountain heritage? Take them to the 20th Annual Johnson Farm Festival in Hendersonville on Saturday, April 24, where over 20 old-time crafts and living history skills will be exhibited, and live music and entertainment will be on the main stage and boarding house porch throughout the day.
The weather outside may be frosty and snow-laced, but inside the many music venues in the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, music heats up the night.
As stunning as the scenery is in warm weather in the North Carolina mountains, winter has its own special beauty.
Take advantage of cozy winter nights by the fireside, the perfect time to plan your next visit to the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area!  We encompass 11,000 square miles of the mountains and foothills of Western North Carolina, with scenery unsurpassed anywhere.
Throughout the mountains and foothills of North Carolina, small communities celebrate the season in a style reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting or the movie It's a Wonderful Life.
America's Favorite Drive Turns 75!  Few visitors to the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area miss the opportunity to travel at least a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s Favorite Drive.” The 469-mile-long Parkway stretches from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Shenandoah National Park and is the most popular unit of the National Park Service.
Discover October gold in the North Carolina mountains as fall colors blaze from the highest mountain peaks to the deep river valleys!