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Blue Ridge Parkway Detours: Black Mountain, Old Fort, and a Mount Mitchell Adventure

Estimated Driving Time - 1 hour and 30 minutes

We encourage you to explore the scenic beauty and interesting small towns that are adjacent to the Parkway using these suggested detour itineraries.

When traveling North on the Parkway take this detour to see some of the small town charm along the Blue Ridge mountains. The detour starts by exiting the Parkway at milepost 382 and turning onto Highway 70 heading east into the community of Black Mountain, NC. Known for great shopping and tasty local food this quirky downtown offers travelers a great stop for fun.

After Black Mountain hop onto I-40 East towards Old Fort. Take exit 72 for Highway 70 East and travel through the town of Old Fort. While in Old Fort, visitors can stop and visit the Old Fort Train Depot, Railroad Museum and Visitor Center. Inside the ca. 1881 depot, you’ll find area information and railroad artifacts.

Stretch your legs for a walk to the Mountain Gateway Museum where Western North Carolina’s pioneer era is interpreted. Explore the area’s hiking, waterfalls and biking trails and stop by and see Andrew’s Geyser. And don’t miss the Old Fort Mountain Music every Friday night. From Old Fort, continue east on 70 towards State Road 80. Turn left on Highway 80 and enjoy a curvy drive up the mountains towards the Parkway and Mount Mitchell. Once reaching the Parkway head South to Mount Mitchell and a view from the tallest mountain in the Eastern United States.

Have extra time? Back track the Parkway driving north to stop by Little Switzerland, Emerald Village, the N.C. Minerals Museum and the Orchard at Altapass, between mileposts 344 and 328.3.

History buffs may choose one last option here, a stop at Historic Carson House. At the State Road 80 intersection, drive past the stoplight and Tom Johnson’s Camping Center, turning right into the long, drive to this ca. 1793 plantation home. Today, the Historic Carson House, operates as a private museum interpreting the county’s history from the Revolutionary War though the end of the 19th century.

Christmas Parade in Black Mountain

Black Mountain

Black Mountain, originally called "Grey Eagle," was a tiny agrarian village in the Blue Ridge...

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The Regions of the Blue Ridge

In planning the best use of your NC mountains vacation days, know that the region can be divided into three sub-regions for ease of exploration:

Far West

  • Cherokee
  • The Nantahala Gorge
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Central

  • Asheville
  • Hendersonville
  • Chimney Rock State Park
  • The waterfalls of Transylvania County
  • Many more highlights

High Country

  • Grandfather Mountain
  • Linville Falls
  • Boone
  • Blowing Rock
  • High northern mountains

Foothills

  • Mt. Airy
  • Lenoir
  • Elkin