Fall for Banner Elk this Autumn

Fall for Banner Elk this Autumn

Late day light enhances the fall color and a christmas tree farm in the rural North Carolina mountains.

Few places in the North Carolina mountains have the variety of leaf-viewing options that Banner Elk offers. Nestled at 3,701 feet above sea level, Banner Elk normally reaches peak color around the third or fourth weekend of October. Leaves typically begin changing in late September or early October, followed by a vivid progression that now often stretches into early November.

Fall color in NC mountains Banner Elk leaf lookingBanner Elk is surrounded by scenic peaks and native hardwoods, with many vantage points to view autumn’s splendor. One of the best vantage points is the famous Mile-High Swinging Bridge atop Grandfather Mountain. People from all over the East Coast visit in fall to take in the panoramic view from Grandfather.

There are many different ways to view fall color in Banner Elk. Some prefer to take in the splendor from kayaks and canoes on Wildcat Lake, while others take to the hiking trails in and around the town limits. The Profile Trail at Grandfather Mountain State Park offers great views and has its trail head on the outskirts of Banner Elk. Another popular place is the high-altitude Emerald Outback trail park.

Adventure seekers hit the local rivers for whitewater rafting from Edge of the World Outfitters or High Mountain Expeditions. Or, let the vehicle do the work with a meandering drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Even a simple stroll along the Banner Elk Greenway yields spectacular viewing options.

Another nice thing about a fall visit to Banner Elk is the close proximity to peak fall color from early October to early November. A quick 15-minute drive in early October up to Beech Mountain puts you at peak color because of its 5,506-foot elevation. Or, you can drive about 30 minutes in early November down to the Linville Caverns area and view peak colors there.

When the autumnal day is done, settle into comfortable lodging and indulge in a delicious cuisine from a number of eateries. A bountiful food selection gives Banner Elk its nickname of “the Culinary Hot Spot of the NC High Country.”

For a list of lodging options, click here.

Banner Elk Lodging Recognized for Quality, Value

Banner Elk Lodging Recognized for Quality, Value

Winter-ViewA major travel website says travelers seeking a desirable winter destination and affordable lodging rates can find both with Banner Elk lodging.

TripAdvisor.com, which has more than 375 million unique visitors monthly, named Banner Elk to its list of Top 10 Affordable Winter Hidden Gems in the United States.

Trip Advisor analyzed user ratings for all U.S. towns that have rental properties available on its website. It then calculated the average cost of a week’s stay in a two-bedroom vacation rental in those cities and towns.

The end result? Banner Elk made the list thanks to a user rating of 4.8 stars on a 5-star scale and its affordable, yet upscale, lodging options.

“There’s nothing cozier than a family cabin rental in the woods, where nights are spent around the fireplace drinking hot cocoa and enjoying each other’s company,” says Trip Advisor in its ranking. “Banner Elk offers this in spades, with rentals going for just $765 per week on average for a two-bedroom property. Depending which winter month you visit, you may catch temperatures warm enough for hiking and outdoor recreation, or it could dip low enough for fresh powder on the slopes.”

Banner Elk has long been known throughout the Southeast for its close proximity to two of the largest ski resorts in the region – Beech Mountain Resort and Sugar Mountain Resort. Both are less than 15 minutes from the town’s lone stoplight.

And, the list places Banner Elk in very good company. Among the other hidden gems are: Redmond, Ore.; Cody, Wyoming; Fort Pierce, Fla.; and Garden City Beach, S.C. Of the 10 places ranked, only Chelan, Wash., had a better user rating than Banner Elk.

“Trip Advisor is the top website in the U.S. for consumer-rated travel. It’s a big deal when a site of that magnitude recognizes Banner Elk,” says Nancy Owen, representative of the Banner Elk Tourism Development Authority. “This exposes Banner Elk to millions of people throughout North America and paints us in a very positive light. It also lets people know that, even though we have very nice accommodations, we are also reasonably priced.”

For more info on Banner Elk lodging options, go to the lodging section of this website.

Banner Elk is a Top 15 Summer Cabin Destination

Banner Elk is a Top 15 Summer Cabin Destination

Looking for fun and affordable summer cabin vacation? Look no further than a Banner Elk cabin says one of the world’s largest travel websites.

TripAdvisor.com, with more than 375 million unique visitors monthly, named Banner Elk to its list of 15 Affordable Summer Cabin Getaways Across America. Trip Advisor analyzed user ratings for all U.S. towns that have rental properties available on its website. It then calculated the average cost of a one-week stay in July in a two-bedroom cabin rental in those cities and towns.

Banner Elk made the top five for having an average weekly cabin rental of $768, while offering “no shortage of challenging hikes and spectacular overlooks.”

TripAdvisor further commented on Banner Elk’s convenient location: “This Blue Ridge Mountain getaway is close to major attractions like Grandfather Mountain, Blowing Rock, and the Appalachian Trail.” It also noted, “the wine and beer scene won’t disappoint, either, with Banner Elk Winery, Grandfather Vineyard, and Flat Top Brewing Company offering delicious grapes and suds.”

“Trip Advisor is the top website in the U.S. for consumer-rated travel. It’s a big deal when a site of that magnitude recognizes Banner Elk,” says Nancy Owen, representative of the Banner Elk Tourism Development Authority. “This exposes Banner Elk to millions of people throughout North America and paints us in a very positive light. It also lets people know that, even though we have very nice accommodations, we are also reasonably priced.”

For more info on Banner Elk lodging options, go to the lodging section of this website. To read the full TripAdvisor article, click here.

Art on the Greene is Four Times Each Summer

Art on the Greene is Four Times Each Summer

Art on the Greene Banner Elk NCArt on the Greene transforms the grounds of the Historic Banner Elk School into an art gallery four times each summer. These popular shows take place Memorial Day weekend, July Fourth weekend, the first weekend in August and Labor Day weekend.

Each show highlights works from local and regional artists, and allows shoppers to add to their art collections while supporting historic preservation at the same time. Booth rental proceeds are donated to the Town of Banner Elk for ongoing efforts to transform the historic school into a center for visual and performing arts.

In 2020, the show dates are: May 23-24, July 4-5, Aug. 1-2 and Sept. 5-6.

Art on Greene Fine Art Show Banner Elk“I hope attendees find our town to be a place they want to return and tell other people about,” says Kimberly Tufts, show director. “I also hope they leave with something tangible, that they find a new piece of artwork and build a relationship with an artist that enriches their life.”

The number of artists exhibiting at each show range from 40 to 60. They represent a variety of media, such as metal, glass, ceramics, wood, watercolor, acrylics and oil.

“The focus is on embracing our Appalachian heritage and really highlighting things in the hand-crafted Appalachian tradition,” Tufts says.

As a resort town perched at 3,701 feet in elevation in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Banner Elk is an ideal location for summertime art shows. High temperatures average in the upper 70s, with lots of sunny days.

“We have a rich heritage that makes us special, and I think people feel that when they’re here,” Tufts says. “Banner Elk is also a very friendly town in a beautiful location. We have wonderful restaurants and so many things to do outdoors, which make this place a destination.”

While attending the shows, folks are invited to check out the Historic Banner Elk School. The 1939 rock building was built as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project during the Great Depression. The school is home to the B.E. Artists Gallery, Ensemble Stage professional theater, Banner Elk Book Exchange and the editorial offices of a local lifestyle magazine.

Art on the Greene has no admission fee. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Food vendors are on hand, complementing the offerings at downtown restaurants within easy walking distance.

For additional information, call the show director at 828-387-0581.

Grandfather Mtn After Dark: Creatures of the Night & Bonfire Delight, Sept. 29

Grandfather Mtn After Dark: Creatures of the Night & Bonfire Delight, Sept. 29

Visitors are familiar with Grandfather Mountain’s resident animals, including black bears, bald eagles, cougars, river otters and elk. But what do they do after dark?

Find out Saturday, Sept. 29, at Grandfather Mountain’s annual Creatures of the Night & Bonfire Delight, a nighttime event featuring fun and spooky stories told by firelight, along with rare after-dark tours.

From 6 to 9:30 p.m., guests of all ages can enjoy hot chocolate and warm apple cider by the glow of a bonfire. The event is BYOS (Bring Your Own S’mores), but the park will provide marshmallow roasting sticks, cider, hot chocolate and seating.

From there, join Grandfather staff members on a nocturnal trek to the top of the mountain (via shuttle) and the environmental wildlife habitats.

“It’s a whole different way to experience the animals,” said Jenny Condron, habitat keeper at Grandfather Mountain. “When you see them in the daytime, it’s all just a visual experience. But at night, you hear their unique noises and rustling around way before you actually see them, and it can be quite exciting and eerie.”

An “Owl Prowl” will take participants on a search for the mountain’s feathered denizens of the night, during which guides will attempt to communicate with the birds through recorded owl calls.

“On our last Owl Prowl, the barred owls were very, very responsive, talking back a lot,” chief habitats curator Christie Tipton said. “By the time we take the last tour, it’s pitch black, and you can’t see anything. Although the owls can see you.”

In fact, the event casts Grandfather Mountain in a whole new light — or lack thereof.

“Creatures of the Night is an amazing opportunity to see the new world that is Grandfather Mountain after the sun goes down,” Tipton added. “The mountain comes alive with inhabitants not seen during daylight hours, and experiencing the majesty of this in complete darkness, with no outside lights, is an awe-inspiring experience.”

Planning to Attend?

Cost is $20 per person, and participants must be at least eight years old to attend. Space is limited and registration is required by visiting https://bit.ly/2PaBpXk.

Guests are encouraged to dress warmly and bring blankets, flashlights and s’mores ingredients to enjoy around the fire. For more info, call 828-733-2013, or visit www.Grandfather.com.

Statewide Cycle Ride Kicks Off in Banner Elk

Statewide Cycle Ride Kicks Off in Banner Elk

Mountains To Coast Ride - 002aBanner Elk has been selected as the starting point for the 2016 “Mountains to Coast Ride,” hosted by Cycle North Carolina.

All participants arrive in Banner Elk on Saturday, Oct. 1. The ride begins the next day at Tate-Evans Park in Banner Elk and concludes Saturday, Oct. 8, in Atlantic Beach. A total of 1,100 riders are expected to participate, which is the highlight of the year for many cyclists from across the nation.

The “Mountains to Coast Ride” was created in 1999 and is North Carolina’s only fully-supported ride. It is designed to promote North Carolina’s beauty, tourism, visitor attractions, historic sites, state parks, healthy lifestyle and the benefits of bicycling.

During the course of the week, riders will bike an average of 60 miles per day. In addition to overnights in Banner Elk and Atlantic City, stays are also planned for the towns of Wilkesboro, Lexington, Burlington, Sanford, Clinton and Jacksonville.

“Cycle North Carolina events generate an economic impact that exceeds $3 million a year for numerous small North Carolina towns,” says Wit Tuttell, executive director of Visit NC. “The event travels secondary roads, exploring all areas of our great state.”

For more details or to register online, go to www.cyclenorthcarolina.org.

For a full list of lodging options in Banner Elk, click here.

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