While a number of popular outdoor attractions like The Tweetsie Railroad close for the winter, there are still many things to see.
Grandfather Mountain’s peaks are almost 6,000 feet above sea level, giving you some of the most spectacular views in the High Country. You can drive your car all the way to the upper parking lot or hike your way to the top. That parking lot gives you easy access to the exhilarating Mile High Swinging Bridge. Further down Grandfather Mountain you’ll find a Nature Museum and Restaurant, as well as animal habitat enclosures containing cougars, white-tailed deer, black bears and river otters.
The Linn Cove Viaduct is a must for first timers and regulars alike. Construction began in 1979 on this final piece of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It consists of a 1,243-foot concrete bridge wrapped around the slopes of Grandfather Mountain. 153 precast concrete segments were lowered into place one by one from either end of the bridge using a specially constructed crane. There is a free National Park Visitor Center and Bridge Museum at south end of the Viaduct at Milepost 304 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Visit their website online at
www.blueridgeparkway.org/v.php?pg=873 for more information.
On warmer winter days, there are endless hiking opportunities all around the High Country. Moses Cone Park, Julian Price Park, the Tanawha Trail, and Linville Falls are all popular destinations. Find a complete list with descriptions at: www.highcountryhiking.com/directory.htm. If you have kids with you, they can fish for trout or pan for gems at a number of spots along Hwy 105.
If you are a thrill seeker, Hawknest Zipline is open even in snowstorms. More recent developments are the High Country Wineries with three to choose from, open for your sampling pleasure. There are also an increasing number of local ale houses with one in Boone and two in Blowing Rock.
If you’re wanting to survey the full field of attractions, here are a few suggestions:
Banner Elk Winery and Villa
60 Deer Run Lane, Banner Elk – 828-898-9090 – www.bannerelkwinery.com
Winter Wine Tastings 12 to 6 pm on Wednesday-Sundays.
$7 per head. Luxury bed and breakfast on-site.
Dutch Creek Trails
Located between Boone & Valle Crucis at
793 Rubin Walker Rd, Vilas – 828-297-7117 – www.dutchcreektrails.com
Horseback riding three times daily Monday thru Saturday in the winter along gentle, scenic trails.
Foggy Mountain Gem Mine
4416 Hwy 105 S, Boone – 828-963-4367 – www.foggymountaingems.com
Emeralds, rubies, sapphires and more in each bucket of ore. Cutting, mounting and appraisal services on site. Gift shop.
Foscoe Fishing Company
8857 Hwy 105 S. between Boone and Banner Elk – 828-963-6556 – www.foscoefishing.com
Fly fishing classes, guided fishing trips, retail store – only High Country Orvis endorsed fly fishing outfitter in the High Country. Closed Sundays in winter.
Grandfather Gem Farm
Hwy 105 10 miles south of Boone – 828-963-5098 – www.grandfathertroutfarm.com
Ore and cleaning equipment provided. Gem shop on site to identify, cut and mount your finds. Same location as Grandfather Trout Farm.
US 221 & Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville – 828-733-4337 – www.grandfather.com
Grandfather Mountain offers diverse wildlife, breathtaking views, and the Mile High Swinging Bridge. Open year round weather permitting. Winter hours are Monday-Friday 9-4.
Grandfather Trout Farm
Highway 105 10 miles south of Boone – 828-963-5098 – www.grandfathertroutfarm.com
Open year round. Bait and tackle furnished at no charge. Kid friendly. Help for beginners. Cleaning and packing of your catch.
Grandfather Vineyard Winery
Off Hwy 105 S. 225 Vineyard Lane, Banner Elk – 828-963-2400 – www.grandfathervineyard.com
Tatum family owned. Check website for January hours.
Find a complete list with descriptions at: www.highcountryhiking.com/directory.htm
On warmer winter days there are endless hiking opportunities all around the High Country. Moses Cone Park, Julian Price Park, the Tanawha Trail and Linville Falls are all popular destinations.
Hawksnest Zipline Tours
Off US 105 S between Boone and Banner Elk
2058 Skyline Drive, Seven Devils – 800-822-4295 – www.hawksnestzipline.com
The longest zipline on the east coast. Open daily even in snow with two different tours totaling over four miles of ziplines at heights of over 200 feet and speeds up to 50 mph.
19929 US221, North Marion – 800-419-0540 – www.linvillecaverns.com
An active, natural limestone cavern with trout swimming in an underground stream. Gift shop. Open since 1937 with many improvements. Half hour tours on weekends only in the winter. Between Linville and Marion.
Linville Falls Winery
9557 Linville Falls Highway, Newland – 828-765-1400 – www.linvillefallswinery.com
Open daily 12-6pm. Check the website for the Saturday live music schedule.
Off Hwy 321 between Boone and Blowing Rock – 828-264-2792 – www.mysteryhill-nc.com
A family oriented, gravity defying, museum, entertainment center and gift shop. Open daily.
The Blowing Rock
Hwy 321 S, Blowing Rock 828-295-7111 – www.theblowingrock.com
An immense cliff 4,000 feet above sea level over the John’s River Gorge. Open daily until mid-January, then weekends only.
Museums & Galleries
There are clusters of galleries, not listed here for space reasons, along Main Street in Blowing Rock and King Street in Boone. The three listed below have specific exhibits in January that you might not want to miss.
Blowing Rock Art & History Museum
159 Chestnut St, Blowing Rock – 828-295-9099 – www.blowingrockmuseum.org
In addition to the permanent collection, the current exhibit is The Painted Song: Art of Wiili Armstrong, who is called “The High Country’s Van Gogh.” History of the Ski Industry in the High Country opens January 22, 2014.
10360 Hwy 105 S, Banner Elk – 828-963-4288 – www.carltongallery.com
Celebrating 31 years of serving the High Country. Representing over 200 local, regional and national artists. Winter Group and Small Works Exhibition through April 30. Closed Monday.
Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University
423 West King St, Boone – 828-262-3017 – www.tcva.org
In addition to the permanent collection, current exhibits include the 27th Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Competition and Exhibition; Men Working: The Contemporary Collection of Allen Thomas, Jr.; Orna Bentor: Landscapes Within; Photographs by Hugh Morton: an uncommon Retrospective; Susan Webb Tregay: Contemporary Art for Adult Children and Lost on the Road to Oblivion: The Vanishing Beauty of Coal Country by Carl Galie.