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Spruce Pine and Mountain Minerals

Estimated Driving Time - 1 hour and 15 minutes


When traveling north, this route offers visitors a chance to visit the town of Spruce Pine, NC and take in the wonderful views and sample the local shopping and food. Exit the Parkway onto Highway 74 West in Asheville and immediately getting onto I-40 East towards Marion. Take exit 86 for Marion/Highway 226 North. Follow 226 N into the mountains for beautiful scenery and majestic views. Before reentering the Parkway again, visit the Museum of North Carolina Minerals to learn about the richest minerals and gem deposits in the United States.

Also near the Parkway access is the Village of Little Switzerland. “Uptown” consists of local arts and crafts shops while “downtown” includes a cafe, bookstore, antique shop and general store. Continuing north on the Parkway, stop at the Orchard at Altapass, milepost 328.3 to taste locally grown products and hear traditional mountain music. If you have time don’t miss the storytelling hayride. The Orchard offers travelers a chance to experience locally grown products and hear traditional mountain music.

When traveling south, exit the Parkway at milepost 331 onto 226 N to visit Spruce Pine, returning to I-40 via 226 S towards Marion and I-40 West towards Asheville.

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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


  • 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


  • Mt. Airy
  • Lenoir
  • Elkin