Check Out Early Winter 2013
At the Boone Area’s “Top Ten" Overlooks
Autumn's leaves have left—but the overlooks below are picture-perfect places to enjoy the crystal clear vistas that November brings during the High Country's "Secret Season" of early winter.
Here’s a locals' “Top Ten” list of the Boone Area’s best views (many, but not all, on the Blue Ridge Parkway).
Not all of the Parkway’s “overlooks” are on the roadside, some require a short walk, most just a stroll on an easy path.
Hit these high spots of Sightseeing Grandeur
1/ Grandfather Mountain:
You can’t go wrong looking out on any season from the 1/ Mile-High Swinging Bridge or the ladder-climbing trails that cross the crest of Grandfather Mountain State Park. The Grandfather Mountain portion of the Parkway also has options, including numbers 2 and 3 below.
2/ Stack Rock Parking Area:
At Milepost 304.8, this parking area seems bordered by trees, but stroll the side of the Parkway a hundred feet north and “Wow!” You’re looking way down on the Pisgah National Forest’s multihued ridges from 4,286 feet.
3/ Beacon Heights Trail:
Head less than a mile south to the Beacon Heights Trail, at Milepost 305.2, for an easy walk to a great view. It’s just 0.3-mile (about 0.7-mile round-trip) to rocky domes that also look down on Pisgah National Forest’s rippling lowlands.
4/ Bass Lake:
In Blowing Rock, pull into the Bass Lake Parking Area of Moses Cone Park from US 221 and the shimmering, colorful lakeshore is a dazzling autumn experience. Some people just pull out folding chairs and soak up the scenery. Others walk the easy mile-around the lake. In winter, the lake is often frozen and cross country skiers glide along. If you want to look down on the scene, drive to Cone Manor (Milepost 294.0) and survey the vista from the porch or trail out front.
5/ Thunder Hill Overlook:
At Milepost 290.4 north of Blowing Rock, the expansive view from roadside Thunder Hill Overlook plummets east to the Piedmont from 3,795 feet. For a breezy, even bigger picture perspective, cross the Parkway to the nearby hilltop. (Or try a “best-kept-secret” in Blowing Rock—The Blowing Rock, a major High Country attraction. One of the state’s classic travel destinations, with inspiring views.)
6/ Elk Knob State Park: Talk about “best kept secrets.” This 5,500-foot mountain, a recent state park just 11 miles north of Boone, has a newly completed 2-mile trail (moderately strenuous, but gradual) that reaches a knock-your-socks-off summit view. North lies Virginia’s highest peak, Mount Rogers. Mount Mitchell, East’s loftiest, soars to the south, along with Grandfather Mountain and the East’s highest ski areas, Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain. This park is all about winter, so bring your snowshoes!
7/ Boone Greenway: Boone’s paved greenway trail winds into a hidden valley. When the town disappears, hikers and bikers are surrounded by wintry scenes as they wander along the South Fork of the New River. This perfect family destination offers many picnic sites and even the historic ruins of the early 1900s first hydroelectric generation station in the northwestern mountains.
8/ Wildcat Rocks:
This less-visited overlook hides just beyond Doughton Park’s Bluffs Lodge (the overnight facility is closed). Turn in at Milepost 241.1 and park beyond the lodge where it’s a short stroll to a view into dramatic Basin Cove with its tiny cabin far below. Start at the same spot for a moderate 1-mile (2-mile roundtrip) climb to Fodder Stack—a craggy summit vista above the deep valley.
9/ Mount Mitchell Overlook:
At Milepost 349.9, Mount Mitchell Overlook spans the north slope of the entire Black Mountain Range of which Mount Mitchell is the highest. From an elevation of 4,825 feet, the massive peaks tower nearly 2,000 feet higher (up to 6,684 feet). You might even see the winter hoarfrost or snow streaking the summits. There's a great view from the summit too, the climax of Mount Mitchell State Park. This part of the Parkway is often closed in winter.
10/ Mount Jefferson State Natural Area: Great views cap this Ashe County peak just north of Boone—and they're all available by car. Just pull into the overlooks as you drive to the top. Call 336-246-9653 for more information.
Basics of the Parkway
Camping on the Parkway
Climb The Highest Peaks by Car
Fishing on the Parkway
Hiking on the Parkway
Just for Kids
Nature on the Parkway
Visitor Centers and Cabins
Dive into our Interactive Map!
Zoom in close on the map below (use the plus sign and directional arrows at upper left, or repeatedly double click near, but not on, the map symbols). You can literally see the parking lots for Parkway destinations in this guide. Click any map symbol and information packed balloons pop up to describe locations all along the route. In the map balloons, click "Directions" to add your address and get step-by-step directions to Parkway locations from wherever you are. Start in the north, follow the road south, for a local's introduction to your own Boone-area Parkway adventure.
View Blue Ridge Parkway - Boone NC Area in a larger map