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Late September and early October in the Smoky Mountains offers up some extra special magic – mating season for the Elk. Entering the Great Smoky Mountain National Park at the Cataloochee Ranger Station (near Maggie Valley and Cherokee) you can see the largest herd within North Carolina’s 140 Elk population, and watch the big males “rut”, exhibiting their famous bugling calls. The calls attract females and challenge other Bull Elk. When two… Read More

I saw the Farmer’s Market through new eyes on a recent visit with cookbook author Jill Dahan. Through a class at the Kitchen at Little Pond Farm in Valle Crucis, we started our Saturday with a morning trip to the Watauga County Farmer’s Market in Boone. Once there, Jill introduced us to farmers, bakers and vendors of all sorts. We tasted goat cheeses, honey, breads, and organic chicken. An egg purveyor told… Read More

    Going Off-Road to the Wilson Creek National Wild & Scenic River Well, maybe not really “off” road – but at least the less traveled gravel roads so common in the NC mountains. We recently found ourselves off in the Jeep for a photo-expedition to the beautiful Wilson Creek area. A popular hiking, swimming and picnicking destination, the Creek is actually quite lengthy and often wider with much more dramatic scenery… Read More

Many visitors to the NC High Country have stopped on the Blue Ridge Parkway (milepost 294) to see the lovely Cone Manor. Left to the state by Moses Cone, the home and estate include orchards, lakes and carriage trails. Mr. Cone was known as “The Denim King” and he and his family were generous to their neighbors and employees. Having no children, he continued his generous legacy and left the property to the… Read More

My favorite way to see the New River is with RiverGirl Fishing Co.   Owner Kelly and her team will make sure you find the right activity – for a big group or just one. She has single and double kayaks and canoes as well as tubing adventures. Trips can last from 1.5 to 3 hours. Kelly McCoy is a fisheries biologist who has an incredible amount of information to share. She also… Read More

For an art experience even a non-art lover can enjoy, visit the Energy Xchange located between Spruce Pine and Burnsville. A North Carolina renewable energy center, the Xchange captures methane gas produced from a landfill and uses it to heat greenhouses, and fire pottery kilns and glass blowing furnaces. Established as a craft business incubator program, a juried panel selects six young artists for three-year residency programs to help them develop craft… Read More

The mountains of North Carolina hide many surprises, and one of the best is the multitude of important artists who are tucked away off grass and gravel lanes. Surrounded by beautiful views, wooded yards and eclectic home sites, you can find some of the best artisans in the U.S. It makes for a very special kind of treasure hunt. There are hundreds of artists in the western region of the state, with… Read More

Step Back to 1861 Your choice, lunch or dinner at the 1861 Farmhouse Restaurant & Winery is a delightful experience.  Located in beautiful Valle Crucis, owners Steve and Alison have worked hard to combine a gourmet dining experience with local country flair and Southern-style. Built the year the Civil War started, the home belonged to Henry Taylor, one of the four founding families of Valle Crucis. He made the brick himself in… Read More

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