Visiting North Carolina on Your Next Trip
By the Reynolds Mansion Bed and Breakfast in Asheville, NC
North Carolina’s landscape just keeps on rolling and changing – from granite domes, bubbling streams and falling waterfalls to Piedmont’s storied foothills and then out to sea on Atlantic barrier islands. On the western edge of North Carolina and across the border into near by Tennessee, Great Hazy Mountains National Park has its Carolina HQ at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee. The Smokies contain some of North America’s tallest mountain tops. And with spruce, fir and conifer forests, dogwoods, rhododendron, azaleas and various wildflowers, this state preserve is a botanic wonderland. Plenty of miles of guided nature trails, paved back roads and streams induce visitors to explore the park’s lands and waters, either on foot, on horseback, by RV, or simply on a leisurely floating tube.
Besides Great Smoky’s annual attendance of 9,000,000 human visitors, the park is inhabited by the likes of woodchucks, coyotes, red foxes, a big population of black bears and more than two hundred various species of birds. Trivia Time: twenty-seven resident salamander species confirm the Smokies as the salamander capital of the world.
The Blue Ridge Parkway goes from Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park along the Appalachian Blue Ridge and Black Mountains, on through the Craggies, Pisgahs and Balsams and into North Carolina’s Great Smokies. North Carolina contains 262 miles of this 469-mile-long beautiful byway, including awe-inspiring views of multiple mountain tops, spring wildflower shows of purple rhododendron and flame azalea, summer greenery, forests ablaze with vibrant autumn leaves, and a wealth of local wildlife. Parkway nature trails, designed for hikers and horses, twist thru sundry landscapes with natural water features like pools, meadows, streams and tumbling cascades.
Along the Blue Ridge Parkway lies Asheville, a charming town full of arts, culture and things to see and do, including the famous Biltmore Estate, the largest working estate still in existence. Asheville features many cozy bed and breakfasts, like the Reynolds Mansion, a historic home featuring 13 bedrooms and rated #1 on TripAdvisor.com.
Located in the central heartland, Lake Norman State Park in Troutman is located on the coasts of North Carolina’s biggest synthetic lake or “inland sea.” Besides easy accessibility to the 32,510-acre Lake Norman, this park also offers a second, 33-acre lake that deals with swimmers, boaters, canoeists and anglers.
While Lake Norman fishermen catch their equal share of striped bass, crappie and yellow perch, other sports like sailing, waterskiing and windsailing are widely available thru the park’s public boat launch. However, visitors don’t need to dip into the water to experience the benefits of Lake Norman State Park. Those who’d rather stay on land can enjoy a leisurely picnic or take a walking tour on the Lakeshore or Alder Trails. Also in the center of the state, at Chapel Hill’s U.N.C. Campus, the North Carolina Floral Gardens is a veritable patchwork quilt of regional plant life. 4 distinct areas of the gardens showcase representative species from the Carolina plant kingdom and from all parts of the globe. The shady Piedmont Nature Trails loop through oak and hickory woods, past streams and stands of evergreens, dogwoods, trilliums and redbuds.
The Seaside Plain and Sandhills Habitats represent the ecology of eastern Carolina, including rolling mounds of sand with longleaf pines, myrtles and meat eating Venus flytraps. (Do not make it angry) A Mountain Habitat Garden features southern Appalachian wildflowers like bluebells and mountain laurels and ferns, hemlocks and tulip trees. Eventually, the Mercer Reeves Hubbard Herb Garden presents medical and culinary applications of plants and herbs and a continual project that focuses on the National Rosemary Collection. In North Carolina’s eastern seaside region is the feted Outer Banks. This 130-mile necklace of barrier islands along North Carolina’s northern coast offers untamed beaches, impressive scenery and North Carolina hospitality.
The Cape Fear Coast is an area of amazing natural beauty, and embodies the city of Wilmington and the island communities of Carolina Beach, Kure Beach and Wrightsville Beach. This area is home to unspoiled beaches and is a nirvana for beachcombers and out of doors lovers. Cape Hatteras National Seashore consists of more than 70 pretty miles of barrier islands. With its breathtaking vistas and fascinating history, the Cape is ideal for an RV vacation. Enjoy offshore shipwreck sites and onshore lighthouses. And for those keen on birdwatching, these islands are the ideal spot as they serve as a very important wintering migration area for waterfowl. Found in the town of Nags Head, Jockey’s Ridge State Park is the location of the Atlantic seaboard’s tallest natural sand dune.
At this 426-acre preserve, desert-style walks, hang-gliding and shorebird sightings amuse one million visitors every year. Jockey’s Ridge’s centerpiece dune currently measures between eighty and a hundred feet tall, depending on which way the wind blows. The dune formation endures because of swapping airstreams, which serve to equalize one another by blowing sand backwards and forwards. A trek to the dune’s summit affords a seabird’s viewpoint of Nags Head and surrounding islands. Hikers should permit an hour or so to walk the round-trip loop from the parking lot to the sandy crest of the ridge. From a perch on the top of the big, golden dune it’s fun to imagine how local heroes, Orville and Wilbur Wright, were stirred to fly like birds over the blustery sandscape of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Cape Hatteras National Seashore consists of more than 70 gorgeous miles of barrier islands.
Another winning natural attraction in North Carolina’s coastal region is Croatan National Forest in New Bern. The most coastal Fed. Forest in the eastern US offers something for every ecotourist. Besides Bogue Sound, there are beaches, woods, streams, salt marshes, freshwater lakes and evergreen pocosins, unique raised bogs that were aptly described by Native Americans as swamps on hills. Croatan’s wide variety of habitats provides houses for lots of species, from herons, ospreys and nuthatches to turtles, alligators, bears and deer.
Croatan’s guests can go cruising, canoeing, fishing and hunting or they can select from a wide-ranging trio of wooded nature trails.
When you are next touring North Carolina, be sure to stay with us at the Reynolds Mansion Bed and Breakfast in Asheville, NC for cozy accommodations and lots of Southern charm.