Chimney Rock Celebrates 100th on July 4th



On July 4, 2016, Chimney Rock Park will celebrate both its 100th anniversary and the centennial of the North Carolina state parks.

As North Carolina was creating its first state park at Mt. Mitchell, three brothers were also dedicating their new park in Hickory Nut Gorge. On July 4, 1916, Chimney Rock was dedicated by Dr. Lucius B. Morse and the first American flag was raised on the Rock. This year, exactly 100 years later, a special ceremony will take place as the North Carolina state flag will join Old Glory on the top of the “Rock”. The flag dedication will begin at the 8:30 AM on the top parking lot near the base of the Chimney. State Park Superintendent James Ledgerwood, along with other speakers, will open the festivities with a short history of the Park followed by a hike up the Outcroppings trail to the Chimney. Once on the “Rock,” color guard will raise the North Carolina state flag under the American flag to signify that North Carolina State Parks is prepared to continue to protect the park and its natural resources for the next 100 years and beyond.

The band Vintage Vinyl will play their rendition of the National Anthem followed by a short patriotic concert. Park Rangers will share historical photos and articles about Chimney Rock and other state parks, including a display on the 1916 flood that washed out the original Park bridge soon after its dedication on July 4th. Guests will be able to continue their walk through history by a taking a self-guided hike along the Outcroppings trail where other historical photographs of the Park will be on display. A limited number of tickets will be available at the Ranger’s exhibit table for interested guests to take a Behind the Scenes tour of the elevator at different times during the day.

Around 6 PM, as the color guard retrieves the flags, guests can take part in a toast to the next 100 years. The two flags will be then be placed in the Park’s historical archives and saved for future generations.

Gates will open at 7:30 AM and, in the spirit of celebrating 100 years, admission fees will be waived for the first 100 cars that enter the Park before 8:30 AM.

The celebration will continue later in Chimney Rock Village. From 8:30 to 9:30 PM gather along the Rocky Broad River behind the Old Rock Café for free s’mores and campfire stories with the Park Superintendent.

Chimney Rock also joins nearby Pisgah National Forest and the National Park Service in celebrating their centennials this year. Chimney Rock State Park is located 25 miles southeast of Asheville on Highway 64/74A in Chimney Rock, N.C. It is recognized as one of the Southeast’s most iconic sites and popular travel destinations. The Park’s 535-million-year-old monolith called Chimney Rock can be accessed via a 499-step Outcroppings Trail and offers guests 75-mile panoramic views of Hickory Nut Gorge and Lake Lure. The Park features one of the highest waterfalls of its kind east of the Mississippi River, Hickory Nut Falls, at 404 feet.  Hickory Nut Gorge, one of the state’s most significant centers of biodiversity, is home to 36 rare plant species and 14 rare animal species.

See our Chimney Rock Park Guide for more info for visiting any time of the year.


Thanksgiving Weekend Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Asheville NC invites visitors to join them for ranger-led hikes across the park on Friday, November 27, 2015. Hikes will be offered in the Cataloochee, Elkmont, and Cades Cove areas of the park providing an opportunity for people of all ages to #OptOutside and enjoy the park.

Rangers, park volunteers, and Friends of the Smokies staff will help visitors discover special cultural and natural resources along the hikes. Visitors may also choose to hike on their own and can come to any of the park’s visitor centers throughout the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to receive information about hiking options including several short nature trails that are perfect for children.

The park has over 800 miles of trails to explore throughout the year with every season offering its own special rewards. During late fall and winter, the absence of deciduous leaves opens new vistas revealing stone walls, chimneys, and foundations. These reminders of past communities allow hikers to discover a glimpse of history along park trails.

Friday, November 27 at 10:00 a.m. – Hike to Abrams Falls in Cades Cove
Join park staff for a 5-mile, roundtrip hike to one of the largest waterfalls in the park. The hike is rated moderate with several steep, rocky sections. Expect 4 hours total for the hike. Participants will learn about the parks 2,900 miles of streams, wildlife that depend on the stream, and the significance of Abrams Creek to the diversity of the park. Meet at the Abrams Falls trailhead, halfway around the Cades Cove Loop Road at 10:00 a.m. The program is subject to cancellation if the weather is bad. For more information, call Cades Cove at 865-448-4104.

Friday, November 27 at 10:00 a.m.  – Little Cataloochee Trail near Cataloochee
The 5-mile, roundtrip hike on the Little Cataloochee Trail is rated moderate but does have several steep sections. The trail follows an old road that provided access between Big Cataloochee and Little Cataloochee in the past. Stops on the hike include the Hannah cabin, the Little Cataloochee Church and cemetery, and the Cook cabin as well several former homesites. Read more about Cataloochee Valley and the elk.

The ranger leading the hike will have historic photos and maps of the area to share with participants.  The guided portion of the hike will end after 2.5 miles at the restored Cook family cabin. Participants can return to their cars at their own pace or further explore the area. Meet at the parking area on the left just after entering Cataloochee Valley. From there, participants will follow the ranger and drive 5 miles to the Little Cataloochee trailhead.  The best route into Cataloochee is Cove Creek Road which is accessible from Hwy. 276 near its intersection with Interstate 40. Participants driving to the area on I-40 should use Exit 20 (Hwy. 276 exit) and immediately turn right on to Cove Creek Road. The drive from Hwy. 276 into Cataloochee is 10 miles. Cove Creek Road is a winding, two-lane road and includes a four-mile section that is unpaved. For more information, call the Oconaluftee Visitor Center at 828-497-1904.

Friday, November 27 at 9:00 a.m.  – Cucumber Gap near Elkmont
This easy, 4.8-mile roundtrip hike follows the river through a beautiful, cove hardwood forest. Participants will learn about the rich history of the area including the logging operations of the Little River Lumber Company. Expect 3-4 hours total for the hike. One river crossing may be required. Meet at the Little River trailhead at 9:00 a.m., 7 miles west of Sugarlands Visitor Center in Elkmont. For more information, call Sugarlands Visitor Center at 865-436-1291.

Weather in the Smoky Mountains can be unpredictable, especially in the fall. Rangers recommend participants dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes, and bring rain gear. Participants should also bring a bag lunch, snacks, and plenty of water.

There are plenty of hiking trails for you to explore in the Smokies. See our Great Smoky Mountains Guide for North Carolina.

Top 10 Spots to See Fall Color near Asheville

Blue Ridge Parkway Tunnel

Blue Ridge Parkway Tunnel

With a 5,000-foot elevation change within 50 miles of Asheville, North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Mountains have one of the longest-running fall color displays in the country. Here are 10 fabulous fall spots to enjoy the color show:

  1. Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the country’s top scenic drives! Stop at many overlooks, picnic and hike. Color peaks early October in highest elevations, ending late October in the valleys.
  1. See the first colors of the season atop of Mt. Mitchell, the highest mountain east of the Rockies, with panoramic views from the observation deck.
  1. Enjoy roadside views or walk through Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This highland valley with two waterfalls is surrounded by 6,000-foot peaks and puts on a brilliant color show.
  1. See one of the most photographed waterfalls in the country, Linville Falls. Hike trails to several vantage points to see this waterfall and the Linville Gorge.
  1. Watch many elk graze a short distance away in the Cataloochee Valley section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Each fall, male elk make their legendary bugling calls. Also hike woodland trails and explore historic buildings.
  1. Drive the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway (US 276) from Brevard to the Blue Ridge Parkway, with great stops such as Looking Glass Falls, a challenging hike to Looking Glass Rock and a tour of the Cradle of Forestry.
  1. Take a short hike in DuPont State Forest to see three waterfalls, or hike to the top of Cedar Rock for colorful mountain views, with best color in late October.
  1. Stroll through the gardens and forest trails at the North Carolina Arboretum, attend the Chrysanthemum Show, and see the tiniest color show with their extensive Bonsai display.
  1. Choose from a variety of outdoor activities at Biltmore Estate. By foot, bike, car, horse or Segway – see thousands of colorful mums, mountain views and lush forests.
  1. Hike to the top of the famous Chimney Rock with 75-mile views overlooking Lake Lure. The fall color show ends here, best in late October and early November.

For more details on these, the latest fall foliage week-by-week forecast and top fall festivals, go to

Valentine’s Weekend Events & Things to Do in Asheville

Winter Hike

It’s even more romantic in Asheville for Valentine’s Day weekend! See our Top 10 Things to do with your sweetie, ranging from outdoor adventures to getting pampered indoors!

Stay in a romantic bed and breakfast inn or cozy log cabin. Try out the many local restaurants in downtown Asheville. Stroll through galleries and explore our small towns. Take a hike winter to a waterfall or ski the slopes. Get a message at a spa or soak in the hot springs. Sample local beers at our craft breweries. Tour Biltmore Estate with plenty to do to fill an entire day. End the day with some live music.

And those are just a few ideas for getaways to our North Carolina Mountains. See our winter events guide for more ideas in both February and March.

Also see Valentine’s Weekend packages at bed and breakfasts, cabins and hotels.

Biltmore House Candlelight Tours

Biltmore House Candlelight Tours

Here’s the view of Biltmore House from this evening.  The Candlelight Christmas Evenings are extra magical. In theWinter Garden, choirs perform traditional music of the season. The front lawn of Biltmore House glows with a beautiful 55-foot Norway spruce and the drives are lined with luminaries. Shop and dine by the house. Candlelight Christmas Evenings require a separate ticket for entry from daytime admission, and advance reservations are required. See our Christmas at Biltmore Guide for more.

Brevard Music Center Closes Festival with Big Weekend

Keith Lockhart at Brevard Music Center Festival

The Brevard Music Center (BMC), a summer festival and institute, closes its 2012 season with a weekend of special events. On Friday, Keith Lockhart conducts a special performance of the complete incidental music from Grieg’s Peer Gynt, on Saturday, YouTube sensations Igudesman & Joo present their hilarious show BIG Nightmare Music, and on Sunday, renowned pianist André Watts performs in the festival’s season finale concert. Brevard is just 30 miles from Asheville.

On Thursday, August 2 at 7:30pm and Saturday, August 4 at 2:00pm the Janiec Opera Company closes its 2012 season with two performances of Puccini’s classic La bohème. One of the most frequently performed operas worldwide, this tale of life, young love, and loss in Paris’s Latin Quarter has become not only a beloved opera, but serves as the basis for the hit Broadway musical Rent.

On Friday, August 3 at 7:30pm BMC Artistic Director Keith Lockhart leads the Transylvania Symphony Orchestra in a rare performance of the complete incidental music from Grieg’s Peer Gynt. Friday’s concert will be the largest performance of the 2012 season with 300 performers on stage as the TSO is joined by the Brevard Festival Chorus and narrator Ray Dooley.

On Saturday, August 4 at 7:30pm the powerhouse comedy duo Igudesman & Joo present their over the top orchestral show BIG Nightmare Music. Appearing on stages and televisions across Europe, the pair has become a YouTube sensation with their unique blend of Classical technique and comedic presentation. This tour stop in Brevard will be Igudesman & Joo’s only appearance in the Southeastern US this year.

On Sunday, August 5 at 3:00pm BMC Artistic Director Keith Lockhart will conduct the Brevard Music Center Orchestra in the festival’s Season Finale concert featuring Dzubay’s Shadow Dance, Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor, and Berlioz’s spectacular Symphonie fantastique. Soloist on the Grieg will be celebrated pianist André Watts. A world-renowned artist, Watts has played before royalty in Europe and head of government in nations all over the world throughout his over 45 year long career.

Tickets are available by phone (call 828-862-2105 or toll-free 888-384-8682), by mail, at the box office, or online at The box office is located in the foyer of Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium on the Brevard Music Center campus.