The Boone or High Country area in North Carolina is a frequented trip made by our family every year ever since I can remember. It was also a favorite of one of my grandmother’s and many of us return here in remembrance of her.
High Country is in the northwestern part of NC which consists of the seven counties of Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey. The most popular towns are Boone, Blowing Rock, and Banner Elk. Boone, named after the pioneer Daniel Boone, is the largest in the area with Appalachian State University.
North Carolina is home to part of The Blue Ridge Mountains (named for the bluish tint that appears from a distance), which is also a division of the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern US.
We recently did a weekend trip to High Country and all our families got cabins at Grandfather Campground for the first time. This weekend itinerary is for all ages from the tots to the senior citizens! Easy accessible waterfalls, short hikes, overlooks, famous shops and even an alpine coaster for those brave enough.
Day 1: Saturday
Wiseman’s View Scenic Overlook
Wiseman’s View Scenic Overlook was one of my grandmother’s favorite spots and with great reason when looked upon. It has been nicknamed as one of the Grand Canyons of Eastern America. It’s located in the Linville area in the Pisgah National Forest.
Follow the signs for the overlook. The drive up consists of a dirt road with some potholes and turns. It took us about 20 minutes to get to the top. Take caution with low cars or with wet weather. There’s a big parking lot at the top with a short walk to the overlook. Two stone barriers give views of Hawksbill and Table Rock mountains.
Famous Louise’s Rock House Restaurant
Famous Louise’s is on the National Register of Historic Places sitting in 3 counties of Burke, Avery and McDowell. Although I heard the food was delicious, we only stopped to grab some of the homemade jam.
Waterfalls Park is on the side of the road in Newland and the name gives it away: a park with a waterfall! Picnic tables are available and are a excellent place for a luncheon. It’s hard to beat for an easy view. The more agile ones can take the path up the side of the fall (with caution) or stay put and view the falls from below.
The Original Mast General Store
The Mast General Store is a place on the National Register of Historic Places as it still remains as an example of an old general country store. The place opened in 1883. It still has an operating post office. Don’t get confused with the smaller one in downtown Boone if you put it into your GPS. The original is in Valle Crucis. Be on the lookout for the secret hatch floor door with a rubber chicken that will pop out!
Mast Store Annex a.k.a. Candy Barrell
Just 2/10 of a mile down the road from the original Mast General Store is the Mast Store Annex. The original has the barrels of candy too but the annex shouldn’t be missed! Get a bucket and fill her up with new and old branded candies! Glass bottled sodas and moon pies are usually tempting for me. During the in-season, ice cream is sold outside in the back.
Day 2: Sunday
Silvervale Falls is an impressive roadside waterfall. It’s on a curve of a mountain road and there’s only pull off parking for about 3 vehicles. This fall is near the town Blowing Rock so if you plan to go there it’s a fantastic view not to skip.
The Blowing Rock
Blowing Rock got its name because the way it’s formed. Winds blow through the gorge and are forced up which consequently can push up light objects. It’s a place that snow is said to fall up! The rock itself has a steep cliff over it and is at your own risk. There is a legend that a great gust of wind brought back a Cherokee native back to their lover after jumping from the rock. The picture displays the legend on the sign when you drive up.
Downtown Blowing Rock
The historic town of Blowing Rock is enjoyable with shops and eateries. It’s right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. We indulged in The Backstreet Bakery we found this time. We always stop in The Spice and Tea Exchange when we go too. Marvin surprised me with some cinnamon plum herbal loose tea to try later. There’s a nice playground for the kids but the fog was so thick when came out of the tea store, we couldn’t even see across the street. The photos above show the difference in the clear streets one minute to the playground surrounded by fog the next.
Beacon Heights Overlook Trail
The Beacon Heights Overlook Trail has parking right off the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail is only about 0.3 miles but the tree roots and stones can make it difficult if you don’t have steady footing. The overlook does not have any railing so it’s not a place to let energetic kids or dogs run wild. Half of our view was covered by dense clouds but the other half was great! We had a picnic on the tailgate of the truck of the parking lot and my dad and brother stayed behind and snoozed in the vehicle while the rest of us ventured the trail.
Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster
The Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is a newer attraction that opened in 2020. It’s a cart that the speed can be controlled with a lever. It can reach up to 27mph. That doesn’t sound so fast but when you’re on it, it is! The ride lasts a couple of minutes and it satisfies a short need of a thrill without being too extreme. My stepmom and I rode this while the guys and Isabel stayed at the campground grilling our supper! The coaster does still operate in the rain as you can see on my shield of the cart above!
Blue Ridge Parkway
During a trip, definitely get on The Blue Ridge Parkway for the scenic drive. No big trucks are allowed and the speed limit is 45mph. The roads are wide and well kept. The parkway is 469 miles long and stretches from North Carolina and into Virginia. There are entrances and exits along the way so just hop on and off whenever you feel like it. Mount Mitchell is along the parkway and is the tallest mountain in the eastern US.
Other Family Favorites
Our weekend was quite full with our activities with something for everyone. If you want to have a weekend trip with extended family, High Country is the perfect place. There are so many other options available to check out too! A few more of our family favorites are below. Check out Marvin’s hair in some of these throwback photos!!
Linville Falls – One of the most popular waterfalls in the area with a few moderate trails to hike. Absolutely gorgeous if your family can handle the hike.
Linville Caverns – Tours underground in a mountain. Fun place to visit at least once.
Grandfather Mountain – Grandfather Mountain is a NC State Park with hiking trails and a mile-high swinging bridge. The mountain looks like the profile of an old man’s face from a distance!
Mystery Hill – A house with unique exhibits and full of optical illusions. Kids will love this place and it will make you scratch your head. The main room actually makes Marvin sick to walk in but my brother requires a visit usually every trip!
Tweetsie Railroad – A wild west theme park with a railroad train ride. Haven’t been since I was a kid but I remember the reenactments of the cowboys and Native Americans fighting while riding on the train.
Skiing/snowboarding and tubing is popular in the winter and rafting in the summer.
Please let us know in the comments other activities in the Boone area that we shouldn’t miss!