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Ashe County Studio Tour

See the High County on a two-day studio tour 

Start your tour at the Ashe County Arts Council and Arts Center in West Jefferson. The site of year round exhibitions, concerts, and events, during the week of the Studio Tour, the Arts Center hosts a special exhibit featuring participating artists. The a two-day self-guided tour is held every August. Visitors discover and visit art studios located all over the county – in and around West Jefferson, Jefferson, Crumpler, Laurel Springs, Todd, Creston, Warrensville, and Lansing. Most of the studios are not usually open to the public, so this is a rare opportunity for people to see where these artists work and, at select locations, to watch them as they create their art. The Studio Tour travels through some of the most beautiful mountain countryside the High Country has to offer. 

Among the don’t-miss viewing are the murals throughout West Jefferson. The downtown mural project began in 1996 when McFarland Publishers commissioned local artist Jack Young to create the mural “History of Ashe Through the Ages.” The mural is located on the Regency Properties building next to the Ashe Arts Center. Robert Johnson’s “Spring Wildflowers on Mt. Jefferson” depicts a close up of spring wildflowers, a view of the cliffs and foliage on top of the mountain and a distant view of Mt. Jefferson. Marianne DiNapoli-Mylet’s “New River Traditions” features two musicians playing traditional instruments beside a family enjoying a picnic along the New River. In 2001, Stephan Shoemaker’s “Cut at Devil Stairs” was completed on the Dollar Tire Building. The mural is reminiscent of a time when the railroad was vital to the life of Ashe County.  In 2003, R.T. Morgan painted “Somewhere in Ashe” on the side of R.T. Morgan Gallery. The mural is a brilliant and colorful landscape depicting the high country in the autumn leaf season.  

In 2004, “Wings and Things” was painted on the wall of the Ashe County Cheese Plant Production Building. Artists Earle Klutz Thompson and Raines Thompson designed the rural farm scene and led over 125 students and community volunteers in painting the mural over a three-day weekend. In the summer of 2006, another mural entitled “Unity in Diversity” was added to the downtown landscape. The bright and colorful mural has a home on the side of Geno’s Restaurant. Winston Salem artist Marianne DiNapoli-Mylet worked with students at the Ashe Middle School to create a mural that reflects the landscape of Ashe County, the music and the people who live and work here. Along with volunteers from the Latino Center, students painted the mural on fabric panels that were adhered to the wall with a special adhesive followed by a protective coating.  

Also in and around West Jefferson are 150 Barn Quilts. Members of the community designed the quilt blocks, painted, and mounted them on barns in the area. The Ashe Arts Barn Quilt Project has created a printed guide to follow.

For information, go to their website.

Toe River Studio Tour

Toe River boasts one of nation’s oldest studio tours

 Hugging the curves of the mountains of Western North Carolina is Toe River Arts, one of the most significant concentrations of artists in the nation. Here you will find the journey of the arts and the art of the journey inextricably intertwined, celebrating the seekers and the finders.  

At the close of the 20th century, a handful of visual artists got together in one of the many studios peppered around the Burnsville area and decided that it would be a great idea to open their studios to visitors for just a day. No pack up, load up, drive to a show or festival. No boxing and taking to UPS, or getting in the van and driving deliveries around the east coast. On the other end, visitors could come and experience what it’s like to live in the quiet mountains of the Blue Ridge and to better understand their inspiration. 

Today the Toe River Studio Tour is perhaps the largest and the longest running studio tour in the country. Here you meet over 100 artists, working, talking and displaying their work in home studios and galleries. The event is a free self-guided adventure. Roadside signs help visitors identify a Toe River Arts individual  studio, especially helpful on back roads where studios are hidden from view or serve as a residence. 

The Toe River Arts Council maintains a gallery and offices in Burnsville as well as a second gallery in Spruce Pine.  

For hours, exhibits and other news, go to www.toeriverarts.org.

Elk Knob State Park

Elk Knob State Park is located in the Meat Camp area of Watauga County.  Elk Knob, at 5520 feet, is an amphibolite mountain with grass-covered grounds beneath a hardwood canopy.  There are amazing panoramic views at the top of the 1.9 mile summit trail.

Elk Knob contains an excellent example of a northern hardwood forest typically found above 4000 feet in elevation that consists primarily of American beech, maples (sugar, striped, and mountain), northern red oak, yellow birch, and yellow buckeye.  The hardwood nature of the forest lends to spectacular fall color.

Rangers hold regularly scheduled events and interpretive programs throughout the year.  Watch for notices of these programs on park displays and websites and through local media.  To arrange a special exploration of Elk Knob State Park for your group or class, contact the park office.

The Appalachian Studies Department at Appalachian State University is working with park staff to provide programming rich in southern Appalachian history and culture.  Traditional music, story-telling, and mountain crafts are demonstrated at the outdoor amphitheater.

The park is accessible in winter.  Snow shoes are available for rent and cross country skiing is allowed.  The one mile Maple Run trail (still under construction) is designed for cross country skiing and hiking.

Every September, the park hosts the Elk Knob Community Heritage Day.  For generations local folk have gathered in the gap of Elk Knob to visit with one another.  The Elk Knob Community Heritage Day is an annual celebration of this tradition.  Participants share a covered dish meal while enjoying historical demonstrations, wagon rides, and local music. There is no charge for this event.

Backcountry, primitive camping is available one to two miles down the back country trail.  Campfires are not allowed.

Hours of Operation

November-February:  7 am – 6 pm
March-May, September & October:  7 am – 8 pm
June-August:  7 am – 9 pm

The park office is open 8 am – 5 pm.
The park is closed on Christmas Day.
Hours of operation and fees are subject to change.  Contact the park directly for most current information.

Fees

Backcountry camping is $10 per night.  Group camp sites start at $13.

Mars Hill

A Town Born From Education

Before 1856, when no more than 10 families lived on what was then known as Pleasant Hill, education was important to the parents who founded an academy to educate their children.

The French Broad Baptist Institute, as it was known, eventually evolved into Mars Hill College. When the village of Mars Hill was incorporated in 1893, the corporate limits were set at 900 yards in all directions from the northwest corner of the first college building.  The name Mars Hill is said to have been inspired by a Biblical passage, Acts 17:22, which says, “Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill and said, ‘Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.’”

As the college grew, so did the town. A general store was built, a doctor’s office established, and boarding houses opened for college students. The year 1913 was a boom year for the growing community. Several new buildings were erected, including two stores, a bank building, general store, and a drug store. Many of the homes and the businesses built during this time can be seen in Mars Hill today.

Mars Hill University

Mars Hill University served the academic needs of a growing community and became one of the premiere two-year private colleges in the nation. In 1962, it reached four-year status, and in 2013, the institution changed its name to Mars Hill University to reflect the institution’s expansion, both in terms of enrollment and variety of offerings. The school identifies itself closely with the history and culture of this area and the wide Southern Appalachian area.

Music at Mars Hill

The college and the town itself are inextricably linked to the traditional music of Appalachia. Musician, folklorist, and festival organizer Bascom Lamar Lunsford, a Mars Hill native, dedicated his life to collecting and promoting the music of the Southern Appalachians. Through his work he became known as “Minstrel of the Appalachians.”

In 1927 Lunsford organized the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville, which has been in existence ever since. He organized many other festivals, performed extensively, and composed songs, including the famous “Mountain Dew.”

Museums

The Rural Heritage Museum is on the campus of Mars Hill University. Its exhibits and programming focus on educating students and visitors to the lifeways of the Southern Appalachians. Open year-round, 11 am to 5 pm, except Mondays, and Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s days.

The Liston Ramsey Center for Regional Studies is in the Renfro Library on the campus. The extensive collection of photographs, manuscripts, sound recordings, and artifacts document aspects of mountain life and culture, including an exhibit of Cherokee artifacts, some of which date back to 10,000 BC. Bascom Lamar Lunsford’s instruments are on display along with an extensive scrapbook of his writings and manuscripts to rival the one in the Library of Congress.

Theaters

Southern Appalachian Repertory Theater (SART)—Presents the mainstage summer season of productions each year in the historic Owen Theatre on the campus of Mars Hill University.

Whether presenting Broadway musicals or world-premiere original works, SART offers the highest quality professional productions, with one play each season which has a special emphasis on the rich culture and heritage of the people of Appalachia.

Mars Hill University Drama Department—Provides theatre entertainment for the public during the school year by offering four productions.

Festivals and Events

Blackberry Festival—Held annually in August, celebrating some of the finest blackberries grown anywhere.
Bascom Lamar Lunsford Festival—Held the first Saturday in October, in conjunction with the Heritage Festival. Both festivals are on the campus of Mars Hill University, and both celebrate the traditional music, crafts, and cuisine of the region.

Outdoor Recreation

Nestled among beautiful scenic mountains, Mars Hill offers an ideal starting place for some great outdoor adventures: Hiking on the Appalachian Trail, Fishing, Disc Golf, Horseback Riding, Bike Riding, Gem Mining, Skiing/Snowboarding.

Mars Hill can be reached from both North Carolina and Tennessee via US 25 and Interstate 26.

Wheels Through Time Museum

 

Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley is a premier destination for motorcycle enthusiasts and others drawn to the romance of the open highway and freedom of the bike.  This non-profit organization has shared its collection of over 350 historically important motorcycles and automobiles with visitors to the region.

Museum staff are knowledgeable not only about the machines beneath their roof, but also about the history of transportation and the role it played in the development of the country and in Western North Carolina.

Since the early years of the 20th century, the mountains of Western North Carolina have become a popular tourist destination due to easier access provided by motorized vehicles.  Increasing tourism to this formerly remote region was the rationale for building the Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s Favorite Drive.”

Today, millions of visitors travel the highways and byways of the western counties of North Carolina by car, RV, and motorcycle. 

Hours of Operation

9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday through Monday, from March 1 through November 30.

Admission

Adults $12
Seniors 65 and older: $10
Children: $6

Location

62 Vintage Lane
Maggie Valley, NC 28751

Fontana Dam and Visitor Center

The tallest dam east of the Rockies at 480 feet, Fontana Dam was was built by the Tennessee Valley Authority in response to an urgent need for electric power during World War II; construction began in 1942 and was finished in just 36 months.

Surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Nantahala National Forest, and deep river gorges, Fontana ranks among the most beautiful dams in the world. In addition to providing hydroelectric power and flood control for the region, the lake created behind the dam on the Little Tennessee River is a popular site for many kinds of outdoor recreation.

Boating and Fishing

Fontana Reservoir provides 238 miles of shoreline and 10,230 acres of water surface for recreational activities. Several marinas service the lake, including Fontana Marina, the nearest to the dam itself, which offers watercraft and equipment rentals including pontoon boats, canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. Lake excursions are available, with knowledgable guides relating the history of the region and the dam. Views from the water reveal the pristine nature of the surrounding lands.

Largemouth bass, whitefish, catfish, pike, and bluegills abound in the reservoir, and because of its deep water, fishermen often find such northern species as walleye, muskie, and smallmouth bass.

Hiking

The Appalachian Trail crosses Fontana Dam, which stretches 2,365 feet across the Little Tennessee River. The hot showers available at the trail shelter, maintained by the TVA, have led hikers to dub it the Fontana Hilton.

Visitor Center

The Fontana Dam Visitor Center is located off N.C. Highway 28 near the Tennessee/North Carolina state line. It is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily from May through October except major holidays. Newly refurbished and staffed by TVA retirees, the visitor center has updated maps, videos, and displays about TVA and the construction of the dam.

Historic Fontana Village

With a history reaching back more than 100 years into the logging and mining industries that flourished in the area at the turn of the 19th century, Fontana Village today is a year-round vacation destination resort, with a lodge, cabins, campgrounds, marina, and programming that includes traditional music, car club and motorcycle gatherings,  outdoor activities and special holiday events.

 

The Orchard at Altapass

Early History

Perched on the crest of the Blue Ridge atop the Eastern Continental Divide, the Orchard at Altapass occupies a unique spot in both America’s landscape and history. The Orchard has been a vital travel route since the earliest settlers began exploring these mountains. Buffalo and elk traversed here, followed by the Cherokee and eventually European settlers.

Early settlers defied British attempts to make peace with the Indians by disallowing settlement to the west of the mountains. Their resentment of British rule culminated when they formed the Overmountain Men during the Revolutionary War, marching to King’s Mountain and handing the British a stinging defeat recognized as a turning point of the conflict.

America’s industrialization came to the area in the 1890s. The Orchard’s location on the lowest pass through the Blue Ridge in the surrounding 100 miles ensured that the nation’s railroad barons would find it.
In 1908 the Clinchfield Railroad opened, complete with an engineering marvel: the Clinchfield loops, consisting of 18 tunnels in 13 miles of track built beside and below the present-day Orchard.

The arrival of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the 1930s was yet another key chapter in the Orchard’s history dictated by geography. Today the Orchard is one of the most popular stops along the Parkway.

In 1995, Bill Carson and his family purchased the Orchard and now operates it today as a non-profit dedicated to preserving local history and lore, heritage apple varieties, and traditional music, and storytelling.

To help preserve local culture the Orchard offers free live music Wednesday through Sunday in May through September, and weekends in October.

Take part in the ever-popular Storytelling Hayride, a 45-minute journey through time, which begins on the old path of the Revolutionary War soldiers called the Overmountain Men. The hayride continues through the orchard, past old and young trees, with spectacular scenery for the entire route. Hayrides are offered every Saturday and Sunday.

In addition to hayrides, the Orchard offers guided storytelling walks and guided nature walks on beautiful trails. 

The store and music venue have been completely remodeled and there are now dedicated areas for: kids’ activities, history, butterflies, honey bees, and books. All proceeds from the store help to support the mission of the Altapass Foundation.

Location and Operating Hours

The Orchard is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 328.3, outside the town of Spruce Pine, NC. The Orchard is open 10 AM to 5 PM every day of the week except Tuesdays from May to October. The Orchard is open everyday of the week during the month of October.

Waynesville

Waynesville is the largest city west of Asheville. It is Haywood County’s oldest town and the Haywood County seat, framed by mountain vistas, vast national forest lands and clear, rushing streams.  It is also where team square dancing originated in the 1930s.

Early History

The Town of Waynesville was founded in 1809 by Colonel Robert Love, a Revolutionary War soldier. He donated land for the courthouse, jail and public square, and named the town after his commander in the war, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne.  The Town of Waynesville was incorporated in 1871.

For many years visitors have traveled to Waynesville to enjoy the cool clean air, clean water, outstanding scenery and an opportunity to escape the crowded cities.

Waynesville Today

Although it is a small town, Waynesville is filled with entertainment and culture. Downtown Waynesville is on the National Registry of Historic Places, a vibrant, friendly small downtown located near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with nearby access to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Main Street’s tree lined brick sidewalks offer pedestrian access to fine shops, galleries, cafés and restaurants. Historic buildings, relaxing benches, public art, and welcoming folks make Waynesville an enjoyable place to live and visit.

Parks, Museums and Arts Centers

Founded in 1977, The Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts at the Shelton House is a repository and cultural exhibit preserving and displaying traditional crafts by some of the states’ most renowned artisans.  Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Charleston style farmhouse was built in 1875 for Stephen Jehu Shelton, a Civil War veteran and Haywood County sheriff.  Exhibits include period furnishings and antiques, folk art, and collections of pottery, wood carving, basketry, metalwork, weaving, quilting, marquetry and other fine crafts. Open May-October.

The award-winning Haywood Arts Regional Theater features a full schedule of performances. Widely known as one of the finest community theaters in the southeast, the theater presents shows on the main stage at the Shelton House, April through December, and in the Feichter Studio, January through April.

Ten to twelve rotating artists’ exhibits are shown annually at the Haywood County Arts Council’s Gallery 86, a creative showcase on Main Street in the historic downtown. Special music and art events are held there throughout the year.

The town of Waynesville has many parks and greenways that afford visitors and residents alike the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and beatuiful scenery of the area.

Festivals and Events

  • On the first Friday each month between May and December, Downtown Waynesville Galleries remain open until 9 pm for  “Art After Dark,” with demonstrations, artist receptions, and music.
  • Mountain Street Dances enliven downtown Waynesville on four summer Friday nights.  Put on your clogging and square dancing shoes and enjoy an old-fashioned mountain hoe down at the historic County Courthouse! Live mountain music, demonstrations and instruction by local clogging teams.
  • In July, Waynesville goes international, hosting Folkmoot USA, the State International Festival of North Carolina.  This two-week celebration of the world’s cultural heritage through folk music and dance beings with a parade of nationns down Main Street featuring performances, a parade and workshops. Performers demonstrate their cultural heritage through colorful, authentic and original reproduction costumes, lively dance and traditional music.
  • On Labor Day Weekend the annual Smoky Mountain Folk Festival, held at Stuart Auditorium at nearby Lake Junaluska, offers two nights of the finest traditional music and dance of the Southern Appalachian Region.
  • The Church Street Art and Craft Show is held in October on Main Street in downtown. Now in its 30th year, this event showcases the area’s arts, craft and music heritage.

Tailgate Farmers Markets

The Waynesville Farmers Market is open May through October, held on Wednesday and Saturday mornings on Legion Drive, just off Main Street.  Vendors offer fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers grown in Haywood County.

Location

Waynesville is easily accessed from Interstate 40/US 74 on the north, and US 23/74 from the south.  Parkway travelers can take the Waynesville exit at Balsam Gap.

Downtown Waynesville Association
828-456-3517

Haywood Country Tourism
800-334-9036, 828-452-0152

Haywood County Visitor Center
44 N Main
Waynesville, NC

Gorges State Park

Plunging waterfalls, rugged river gorges, sheer rock walls and one of the greatest concentrations of rare and unique species in the eastern United States are found within Gorges State Park. An elevation that rises 2,000 feet in only four miles, combined with rainfall in excess of 80 inches per year, creates a temperate rain forest and supports a collection of waterfalls.

On April 29, 1999, thanks to a unique partnership of industry, the environmental community and the state of North Carolina, 10,000 acres of the Jocassee Gorges in Transylvania County were placed in public ownership to be preserved for future generations of North Carolinians.

The property was purchased by the state from Duke Energy Corporation, and the transaction created a 2,900-acre gameland managed by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. Currently, Gorges encompasses nearly 7,500 acres and is the only state park west of Asheville.

At the Park, visitors can enjoy camping, fishing, boating, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, picnicking and chances to see waterfalls and wildlife. Click here, for more information about the activities Gorges State Park has to offer.

Gorges State Park opened its new 7,100 square-foot Visitor Center on October 12th 2012. The Center was designed and built to national green building standards. Additionally two large picnic shelters with restrooms, and a maintenance facilities were completed.

The Visitor Center is home to the park offices, large exhibit hall, a 75-person auditorium, 40-person classroom, and large covered wrap around decks offering outstanding southern views of the escarpment and park. The center currently under review for “GOLD” status by the national Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program.

Lansing

Nestled in the High Country in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina is the charmingly rustic small town of Lansing, a prime travel destination in Ashe County.

From Villages and Trading Centers

Like numerous villages throughout Ashe County, Lansing began as a small trading center for the local agrarian population. It is not known where the name Lansing originated, but the name was used in the establishment of a post office on August 24, 1882. Lansing was one of the county’s many modestly-sized rural communities in 1896.

According to Branson’s North Carolina Business Directory, its population was 40, Harrison Perkins’ General Store was the only business, along with the original Lansing School, built in 1889.

Growth with the Railroad

The Virginia-Carolina Railroad (later owned by Norfolk & Western) was constructed through Ashe County in 1914 to 1916 and had a significant impact on the growth of Lansing. With the construction of the railroad, industries based on the export of the county’s natural resources sprang up. Small-scale mining of iron ore was conducted in the Lansing area and the shipment of the ore from the Lansing Depot contributed to the town’s early growth.

The timber industry was even more important to the economy of Lansing and the county in general. Lumber and pulpwood, and probably tan bark, were all shipped from Lansing to processing plants that were located across Southwest Virginia and beyond. These products were the primary impetus for the construction of the railroad into Ashe County and created an economic boom for much of the 1910s and 1920’s culminating in the town’s charter on May 26, 1928.

Discover Modern Lansing

While industries have come and gone, the beauty of the mountains and surrounding natural heritage remains the same for the town and people of Lansing. No matter what the season, Lansing offers unforgettable landscape and scenery, year-round festivals and incredible outdoor recreation opportunities.

The quaint downtown offers a variety of interesting and unique shops filled with local arts and crafts, antiques and household goods. Our shopkeepers enjoy every opportunity to welcome you to the area, and direct you to any goods and services you may seek during your stay. Local eateries in town offer everything from old fashioned country cooking to hand tossed pizza.

Explore the Outdoors

There are several National Parks and Conservation Properties within the area including the magnificent Pond Mountain recently acquired by the State and further to the north, the beautiful Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area and Grayson Highlands of Virginia.

Take a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a mecca for recreational opportunities, a habitat for diverse species of flora and fauna, access to America’s cultural heritage, an icon of American progress and ingenuity, and a gateway to charming communities.

Events and Festivals

Location

Lansing is about 20 minutes from Jefferson and West Jefferson, the seat of Ashe County, is only 45 minutes from Boone (NC) and is less than an hour from Abingdon (VA) or Mountain City (TN). You could get here from Charlotte or Winston-Salem in about 2-1/2 hours and just a few miles from the Virginia Creeper Trail.

Brevard

The historic small town of Brevard is the county seat of Transylvania County, also known as “the land of the waterfalls.” The community is surrounded by nature and the Pisgah National Forest.

Diverse Populations Weave a Unique Tapestry

The earliest inhabitants were Native Americans, but after the Revolutionary War, the area was opened to immigrant settlement. Pioneers came down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania and Virginia or moved westward from the Carolina coast. They came to the wild western frontier to claim new lands, to purchase land for speculation, for adventure, or to escape the fever of the low country. Each of the diverse populations that came here contributed to the identity of the county, becoming a part of the Tapestry that is Transylvania.

Family Enterprise Built Early Economy

Before Transylvania became a county, manufacturing was a family enterprise. The Gillespie family operated a gunworks on East Fork; Jimmy Neill made fur hats at Oak Grove, and Fleming Whitmire built wagons in Middle Fork.

During the Civil War, the Davidson River Iron Works, operated by George Shuford, became an important source of military supply for the Confederate Army. Ore for the mill was mined on nearby Boylston Creek.

Post Civil War

After the Civil War, speculators bought land for as little as one dollar an acre from the war-impoverished native landholders who were not aware of its true value. Families who needed money to pay delinquent taxes and re-stock the farm sold thousands of acres which was used for timber harvesting and mining. Logging and tanning companies became the largest employers of the county until the 1930s, when the timber ran out.

Brevard and Transylvania County Today

Transylvania County has come full circle since its beginnings in 1861, with the land providing commerce and trade once again. The county’s blended heritage continues to grow with new arrivals. Each year the community welcomes the return of summer residents, tourists, and retirees. Students are educated at Brevard College, summer camps, and Brevard Music Center.

The arts uplift the spirit and the National Forests soothe the soul. Sporting activities abound, whether the interest is in hiking, camping, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing, or just plain nature observation. People continue to contribute and enrich the community with their collective knowledge and experience. The fabric of the tapestry grows stronger with each new thread.

The White Squirrel

Not everyone who contributes to the tapestry of Transylvania is human. A white squirrel arrived in Brevard as a refugee from an overturned carnival truck and its descendents have made Transylvania home. A true rarity, the squirrels are not albinos and have dark eyes. This unique animal is protected by law.

Museums

The Transylvania HeritageMuseum, located in Brevard, features permanent and changing displays of heirlooms, artifacts, genealogical exhibits, vintage photographs, and other exhibits reflective of the history and heritage of Transylvania County. The Museum offers a variety of interactive programs and events throughout the year, including the annual Founders Day Fair on Saturday of Labor Day weekend.

Local Attractions

The Cradle of Forestry is so-called because it literally is the birthplace of forest conservation in the United States.  Exhibits, a movie, and nature paths make this an excellent educational and entertaining destination for families.

Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education offers unique indoor and outdoor exhibits and programs on the state’s wildlife and mountain habitats.

Brevard is also in close promixity to the only North Carolina State Park west of Asheville, Gorges State Park. Here visitors can enjoy the rugged mountain terrain with camping, hiking, fishing, boating and many more activities.

The Brevard Music Center is one of the oldest and finest summer music institutions in the country. Every summer, hundreds of young musicians from all over the world come to study and play side by side with professional musicians in the presentation of public concerts, staged operas, and musicals. The Center offers instruction in chamber music, piano, instrumental studies, composition, and voice.

Festivals & Events

White Squirrel Festival and Squirrel Box Derby Day, held Saturday & Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. Nutty family fun celebrating the peaceful coexistence of our wildlife inhabitants, great outdoors, and rich mountain heritage. This music festival showcases original compositions written by musicians who have claimed an attachment to Transylvania County. The Squirrel Box Derby demonstrates the passage of great engineering with mountain daring to our younger generations.

Fourth of July Celebration. Catch the hometown spirit in the Heart of Brevard! Brevard h as a long-standing tradition of celebrating our national Independence Day as a community. An all-star pet show, classic car show, traditional mountain crafts, bicycle parade, reading of the Declaration of Independence are followed by an evening fireworks extravaganza.

Halloweenfest.  Last Saturday in October.  Where better to celebrate Halloween than in Tran-syl-va-nia County? Costume parade, downtown trick-or-treat, Count Dracula’s blood drive, great pumpkin roll keep kids of all ages in the Halloween spirit. The Old Time Music Competition draws musicians from several states to compete in individual categories (banjo, fiddle, dulcimer), as well as combining their talents to compete in the old time string band category.

Twilight Tour.  First Saturday in December. Downtown takes a turn back in time celebrating Christmas mountain traditions. Horse-drawn carriages pass luminary-lighted sidewalks and strolling carolers accompany those touring downtown shops. The courthouse sparkles with lights and angelic voices entertain from the gazebo.

Location

Brevard is southwest of Asheville and easily accessed via US Hwy. 64.

For more information

Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce
175 E. Main St.
Brevard, NC 28712
(828) 883-3700

Highlands

The town of Highlands was supposed to become a hub of commerce in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, had its founders had their way. In 1875, two developers in Kansas drew two lines–one between New York and New Orleans, the other from Chicago to Savannah. Where the lines crossed, they believed would become a crossroads of trade.

They failed to take into account the rugged mountain terrain where “X” marked the spot that would make such a commercial hub difficult to create, and it never came to pass. However, their concept was sound enough, since the commercial metropolis of Atlanta grew up just 120 miles to the south.

A Resort Community Instead

At more than 4,000 feet on the highest crest of the Western North Carolina plateau in the Southern Appalachian mountains, the town of Highlands evolved into a thriving resort community instead. Attracting a blend of Southerners and Northerners, tradesmen and laborers, planters and professionals, the town has served as a cultural center for well-known artists, musicians, actors, authors, photographers, scholars, and scientists who have thrived in its natural setting.

Surrounded by Nature

Highlands is rich in natural scenic beauty, and opportunities for outdoor recreation abound on the Cullasaja River and the nearby Lake Sequoyah. Visitors and residents alike enjoy the waterfalls, hiking, fishing, National Forest walks, and Greenway trails, as well as the four excellent golf courses in the area.

The Highlands Nature Center is a program of the Highlands Biological Station, an inter-institutional center of the University of North Carolina. HBS also includes the Biological Laboratory, whose major focus is graduate education and research, and a Botanical Garden. The Nature Center features a variety of exhibits for children of all ages, including live animals and interactive displays. During the summer, it offers special events, daily programs, and a series of nature day camps. The Botanical Garden features numerous interpretive nature trails. Admission to the nature center is free; and programs are generally free or at minimal cost.

Steeped in Culture

For theater lovers, there is professional summer stock theater at the Highlands Playhouse from June through October, and Highlands/Cashiers Players presents productions year-round at the Martin-Lipscomb Performing Art Center.

The Bascom Center for the Visual Arts offers classes and exhibitions on a six-building, six-acre campus. A wooden covered bridge greets visitors; a rebuilt barn serves as the pottery studio; and a new central building, which houses the galleries and a gift shop, is a brilliant architectural blend of old and new, with wood from older buildings used to create a new one.

The Highlands Historical Society has preserved the Highlands Historic Village which comprises the House-Boynton-Trapier-Wright Home, also known as “the Prince House”, which is the oldest existing house in Highlands; the Highlands Historical Museum and Archives, and Bug Hill Cottage, once part of a tuberculosis treatment center.

The Highlands Heritage Trail offers a suggested itinerary for visiting the many heritage sites in the Highlands area.

Festivals & Events

The Annual Chili Cook Off in March puts some heat into the fading days of winter. In summer, the community celebrates Independence Day with traditional Fireworks. The Highlands Motoring Festival is also held in July.

The Highlands Cashiers Chamber Music Festival has long been a highlight of summer, with performances throughout July and August.

The Annual Highlands Culinary Weekend in November is a popular early winter festival, with food, wine tastings, cooking classes and demonstrations–everything for the discerning food lover!

The town’s Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony is held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, with its annual Christmas Parade the first Saturday in December..

Location

Highlands is located between Franklin and Cashiers on US Highway 64.

For More Information

Highlands Chamber of Commerce
866-526-5841

Highlands Historical Society