The North Carolina Mountains in western North Carolina are home to popular areas like Asheville and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The North Carolina Mountains offer scenic drives, majestic hikes and a variety of small country stores and hometown restaurants for leisure.
The far western portion of Western North Carolina includes the counties of Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Swain, Haywood, Jackson, and Macon. Much of this land is covered by National Forest.
Counties just to the east of this group (sometimes called Land-of-Sky) include Buncombe (home to Western North Carolina's largest city, Asheville), Henderson, Madison, and Transylvania.
The northern counties of Western North Carolina are commonly known as the state's High Country. Centered around Boone, the High Country boasts the area's most popular ski resorts and is known for it's production of Fraser Fir Christmas Trees. High Country counties include Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey (home to Mount Mitchell, highest mountain on the East Coast).
On the eastern end of Western North Carolina lie the counties of Burke, Caldwell, McDowell, Polk - known as The First Peak of the Blue Ridge, and Rutherford.
- 1 Asheville — Scenic mountain city of roughly 85,000 people, known for its cultural establishments, Art-Deco architecture and liberal culture.
- 2 Andrews — A place of Appalachian art and hospitality.
- 3 Black Mountain
- 4 Blowing Rock — Beautiful village at the edge of the John's River Gorge.
- 5 Boone — home of Appalachian State University.
- 6 Brevard – Highest concentration of waterfalls in the eastern United States.
- 7 Bryson City
- 8 Cashiers - Nestled on a wooded mountainside in the southernmost part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, sits the city of Cashiers. This charming locale is surrounded by a lush green valley approximately 3,500 feet high surrounded by mountains rising up to 5,000 feet. It's not the foothills, but the southern crest of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains.
- 9 Cherokee – Native American culture, gambling, and a gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- 10 Franklin
- 11 Hendersonville — charming small town with a cute, artsy historic district
- 12 Highlands — quaint, rustic town with natural scenery and thriving businesses
- 13 Jefferson — at the base of Mount Jefferson State Park.
- 14 Maggie Valley — tourist resort with beautiful mountains
- 15 Mars Hill
- 16 Marshall — this gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains has an attractive historic downtown.
- 17 Murphy — the westernmost town of significance
- 18 Robbinsville - mountain retreat in Graham County with leisurely drives, water recreation, hardy hikes, Appalachian crafts, history.
- 19 Sylva
- 20 Waynesville
- 21 Weaverville - Large art community. Home of the annual Weaverville Art Safari and Art in Autumn art festivals.
- 22 West Jefferson
- 1 Appalachian Trail — scenic nature trail stretching from Maine to Georgia
- 2 Blue Ridge Parkway — historic and nature-filled mountain parkway in North Carolina and Virginia
- 3 Great Smoky Mountains National Park — enormous national park with stunning beauty in North Carolina and Tennessee
The mountains of western North Carolina are among the oldest on Earth, and contain the highest mountain (Mount Mitchell), deepest gorge (Linville Gorge), and several of highest waterfalls (Whitewater Falls, Glassmine Falls, etc.) in the eastern United States, and is also home to the oldest river in North America (the New River) and the two most visited National Parks in the country (the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park).
The region also has a stunning diversity of plant and animal life, more, in fact, than the whole of Europe.
People living in the Appalachian dialect area pronounce the word "Appalachia" as App-a-latch-ah, while those who live outside of the Appalachian dialect area or at its outer edges tend to pronounce it App-a-lay-csh-ah. If you visit the Qualla Boundary (Cherokee Indian Reservation), you may hear the native language Cherokee spoken.
By plane, the closest airport to most of the region is the Asheville Regional Airport (AVL IATA) located fifteen miles southeast of Asheville. The nearest airports to Boone and the High Country are Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT IATA) in Charlotte, North Carolina and the Tri-Cities Regional Airport (TRI IATA) located between Johnson City and Bristol, Tennessee. The next nearest airports are the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP IATA) in Greenville, South Carolina and McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS IATA) in Knoxville, Tennessee.
By train, the closest Amtrak stations to the region are in Greenville, South Carolina, and Charlotte.
By car, two major Interstate highways cross the region: Interstate 40, which traverses east-west, and Interstate 26, which traverses north-south. In addition, US 321 is Interstate quality from just north of Interstate 85 at Gastonia to Hickory, and US 421 is Interstate quality from Interstate 77 to Wilkesboro and a multi-lane divided highway from Wilkesboro to Boone. The scenic Blue Ridge Parkway also runs through the region.
By bus, Greyhound has stops in Asheville and Waynesville.
- The Biltmore Estate, ☎ . In Asheville. George Vanderbilt's European-inspired chateau. The 8,000-acre estate features winery, restaurants, Inn at Biltmore Estate, horseback riding and more.
- The Carl Sandburg Home, ☎ . In Flat Rock. Daily 9AM-5PM. The famed poet and biographer spent his later years on this 263-acre estate with his wife, who raised prize-winning goats.
- Oconluftee Indian Village. And Museum of the Cherokee Indian, in Cherokee, 1-800-438-1601. Sample the ancient Cherokee Native American heritage.
- North Carolina Arboretum, ☎ . In Bent Creek. Open daily. Features a visitor education center, greenhouse complex, gardens and loop trail on 424 acres. $6 per car.
- Wheels Through Time Museum, ☎ . On U.S. 19 in Maggie Valley. Open daily April through November. For motorcycle enthusiasts, this 40,000-square-foot museum features 250 rare and vintage motorcycles and automobiles.
- Blue Ridge Parkway
- Chimney Rock Park
- Linville Gorge and South Mountains State Park
- 1 . - located in Barnardsville
Clay, Graham, Mitchell, and Yancey counties are "dry", meaning no alcohol is sold within their borders. In most other counties in the region, if you want to buy liquor by the bottle you must do it at state-run ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Commission) stores rather than at a traditional liquor store. The exceptions to this are Yadkin and Madison counties, which though not "dry" do not have ABC stores. ABC store hours vary by county. The alcohol laws of North Carolina prohibit the sale of alcohol after 2AM Monday through Saturday, and from 2AM until noon on Sundays.
Asheville is well known for an over-active and overzealous police department and jail system.
- Eastern Tennessee
- North Georgia
- Piedmont – central North Carolina, home to the major metro areas of Metrolina and the Research Triangle, which bring a mix of people and a faster-paced lifestyle than most places in the mountains
- Southwest Virginia – mountainous and largely rural, like Western North Carolina
- Upcountry South Carolina