BLUFFS AND VALLEYS
Black-eyed Susans and tall bellflowers grow along the Overmountain Victory Trail near Yellow Mountain Gap in the Roan Mountain Highlands.
North Carolina’s contribution to Appalachia might reflect the most range and diversity of any state, particularly in the state’s northwestern corner. Asheville, to the south, often appears in travel magazines and top ten lists as the place you want be. Boone, to the north, recently celebrated its third straight national championship in the Football Championship Subdivision. The entire region is scenic, attracting hordes of tourists year-round. Skiing is extremely popular here in the winter.
The cool climate and aesthetic amenities of western North Carolina have drawn people forever, but in recent years the influx has reached horrific proportions. Golf resorts and mountainside subdivisions are popping up like dandelions, negatively altering the very qualities that attracted them here. No one, except a real-estate agent, thinks a mountainside covered in vacation homes is an appealing sight. However, you can still drive backroads in this region and witness scenes little changed from a century ago. Some sights remind you that poverty remains prevalent in this country, particularly in the Appalachians. But don’t tell that to the people who live here. They will tell you they are just as rich as anyone, and after spending some time in their land, you are liable to agree with them.
The roads in this region range from high mountains to pastoral valleys. You can drive the incomparable Blue Ridge Parkway, climb the rugged Grandfather Mountain, browse the shelves of old country stores, float down an ancient river, and share a cheeseburger with Appalachian Trail thru-hikers. You can experience a broad range of cultures, from proud natives to college students hell-bent on changing the world, to former college students still working on it, to hardworking hill folk just trying to earn a living.
Map of Raleigh North Carolina Photo Gallery