North Carolina chooses to celebrate the land and the landscape of the mountains in the state parks that surround the Smoky Mountains. From the peak of Mount Mitchell to the slowly flowing New River, the state parks of the state of North Carolina provide days of recreational opportunities for thousands of visitors each year. Whether you are wanting a simple day playing in the mountains or a strenuous hike to the top of a miraculous rock formation, check out the state parks of NC to find all that your travel needs desire.
Blue Valley Experimental Forest – This experimental forest was established in 1964. The purpose of this forest is to study the eastern white pine and other hardwood trees. Through the research that goes on in this forest, the understanding of the eastern white pine and hardwood trees in the mountains and foothills of North Carolina has increased and researchers have been able to help keep these forests vibrant and healthy.
Chimney Rock State Park – Chimney Rock’s main feature is the 315 foot spire of rock that just from the landscape and shares its name with the park itself. Once a privately owned park, the family that owned Chimney rock developed the stairway and elevator that give visitors access to the top of the spire and also hiking trails to other geological formations in the park itself, including the 404 foot Hickory Nut Falls.
Elk Knob State Park – This is one of the newest additions to the North Carolina State Park system. Right now it has just the basics: a park office, a contact station, a maintenance facility, picnic areas and a hiking trail. The hiking trail provides a glorious walk to the apex of Elk Knob.
Grandfather Mountain – Grandfather Mountain was added to the state park system in North Carolina in 2008. The acquisition of this property helps to continue the vision of the Horton family (the family that owned the area known as Grandfather Mountain and turned it into the destination that it is today). On top of the mountain you will find hiking trails, a swinging bridge and breathtaking views of the mountains around Grandfather Mountain. Add to that the events that take place on Grandfather Mountain each year, like the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games and you have a destination that could monopolize your vacation for days at a time.
Mount Jefferson State Park – Mount Jefferson rises more than 1,600 feet above the surrounding area on the Ashe Plateau. From the peak you can see the Blue Ridge Mountains and of course the Ashe Plateau which spreads out in front of the peak. The lush forest on Mount Jefferson bring one of the widest ranges of plant and wild life that is to be found in the Southern Appalachians.
Mount Mitchell State Park – Mount Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi River. Rising 6,684 feet above sea level, Mount Mitchell dominates the skyline. Though Mount Mitchell is often shrouded in mist and mystery, a hike to the top of the mountain provides the visitor with an amazing view of the surrounding valleys and mountains for miles around.
New River State Park – Camping, picnicking, fishing and best of all canoeing and flat water kayaking are just a few of the reasons to visit the New River State Park. Beautiful scenery and a pastoral landscape surround what may be the oldest river in the United States. You can drive through this beautiful area, taking in the natural beauty or you can jump in a canoe or kayak and float gentle down this slow moving river form one of the four river access points.