On March 3, 2022 Blue Ridge National Heritage Area (BRNHA) Executive Director Angie Chandler announced the completion of the Blue Ridge Craft Trails. The news highlights the curation of 310 destinations, including artist studios, galleries and arts organizations.
The completed, drivable craft trails now cover 25 Western North Carolina counties, all in the Blue Ridge mountains and foothills and the Qualla Boundary, home of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians. Chandler says the footprint of the Blue Ridge Craft Trails is equivalent to the land covered by the state of Maryland.
Visitors can plan their trip at BlueRidgeCraftTrails.com. Itineraries, extensive listings and video with artisans offers a slice of small town creativity.
Chandler says, “Western North Carolina is one of the most distinctive cultures in the United States. We have amazing craft artists and galleries with such variety and creativity. They are ready to welcome locals and visitors alike.”
Why This Matters Now: Trails Tap into a National Trend
The Blue Ridge Craft Trails offer a new reason to visit the mountains and foothills, get outside and explore hidden gems. Destination Analysts new American travel research shows travelers will focus on fun in 2022, going to less crowded places and enjoying the outdoors.
The Blue Ridge Craft Trails answer the need, including well-known destinations such as Asheville and stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It also invites visitors to small towns and communities such as West Jefferson, Murphy, Sparta and Waynesville to meet artists and makers. Regional itineraries on the website home page combine craft stops with local food, culture and outdoor exploration.
In addition to attracting visitors to small towns, Chandler says the project also connects makers with buyers, bringing economic development to the region.
This initiative is supported through major funders including Appalachian Regional Commission, Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, the Cherokee Preservation Foundation, and the Community Foundation of Henderson County Perrry Rudnick Fund.
Wit Tuttell, Vice President of Tourism and Marketing for the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina and Executive Director of Visit North Carolina, invites travelers to plan a North Carolina road trip.
“We’re asking visitors who love the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most visited National Park Sites in America, to also take a road less traveled,” Tuttell says. “The completion of the trails comes at a great time. Its culmination also brings much-needed economic support to craft artists and small businesses in rural areas who have been hurt by the pandemic.