If you’re from Gatlinburg, or East Tennessee, you’ve likely made the short day trip over to Asheville, NC to eat, shop, visit Biltmore, etc. If you’re an outdoors-type person, or more specifically, if you’re into trees and plants, one place you should know about is the North Carolina Arboretum, if you don’t already.
To become more familiar with trees, plants and nature, visit an arboretum. The North Carolina Arboretum is dedicated to providing insight into the trees, plants and nature of North Carolina – especially those located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The arboretum’s revolving yearly exhibits ensures visitors a chance to see something brand new with each visit. The North Carolina Arboretum puts on a revolving show throughout the year, from the exhibits in the Baker Exhibit Center to the gardens outside there’s always something new and interesting to learn.
The arboretum’s sustainable shelter project has been on display since the fall. This particular exhibit gives examples of how people can use recycled materials and natural fibers in their daily life. One such example is the garden shed which not only captures rain water, but also recycles the water that you use when you are tending to garden plants. Not only is the garden shed an exhibit, it’s actually being used in the upkeep of the gardens around the shed itself. Another exhibit shows how mud-daub houses are made with natural materials. All these exhibits demonstrate the arboretum’s views about how these materials can be used to help benefit the planet. More scientific explanations for the need of sustainable shelters will be available in the exhibit hall as well.
Besides the educational aspects of the arboretum, there are also a slew of recreational opportunities. Numerous trails wind around the grounds of this 434-acre facility. In all, there are 65 acres of cultivated gardens in this park. From the winding path in the one of the most unique bonsai gardens in America to the straight trails at the quilt garden, the arboretum’s natural beauty will ease your mind and put your cares at ease while you explore the grounds.
A huge collection of sculptures also calls the arboretum’s gardens home. This outdoor art collection reflects the culture of the region and is all a representation of the area’s local artists. Take a self-guided tour of the art walk. There are brochures to get you started. The two indoor facilities also house collections of arts and crafts. Paintings of the natural landscapes in the area to mountain crafts are just a few of the noted works. Be sure to visit the arboretum website before your visit so that you can make the most of your time at the North Carolina Arboretum.
The arboretum is centrally located in Asheville, NC, and only minutes from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The cost to enter is $8 per vehicle so it is also a very cost effective place to visit during your Smokies vacation. The North Carolina Arboretum is a natural history museum that you definitely want to add to your itinerary.