On the hottest summer days, what's the best way to beat the heat in the mountains? Since the city of Asheville is in a valley, it is usually only a 5-8 degrees cooler than places like Charlotte or Atlanta. So high temperatures often reach 90 in the summer months. However, as you head up into the higher mountains, you cool a few degrees every 1,000 feet in elevation gain. So the highest mountain peaks can run 15-20 degrees cooler than Asheville! And most of the mountain swimming holes are feed by cool mountain springs.
- Sliding Rock: The most popular natural waterslide in North Carolina is near Brevard. Slide down a 60-foot smooth rock waterfall into a pool of chilly water. See photos and more in our Sliding Rock Guide.
- Mt. Mitchell: The highest peak in eastern America can run as much as 20 degrees cooler than the city of Asheville. Summer high temperatures rarely get above the 70s. Drive to the top and walk to the observation deck or have a picnic in the cool mountain breezes. See our Mt. Mitchell Guide.
- Mountain Swimming Spots: From Skinny Dip Falls to mountain beaches, see the best places to play in the cool mountains waters in our Mountain Swimming Holes Guide.
- Linville Caverns: It stays a cool 52 degrees year-round deep inside the mountain. Take a guided tour and enjoy nature's refrigerator. See our Linville Cavern Guide.
- Waterfalls: While it is dangerous at most waterfalls to swim (due to the strong currents), you can wade in the cool waters or feel the mist. See our NC Waterfalls Guide.
- River Tubing: Float down a beautiful mountain river on a lazy summer day. Two of our favorite tubing locations are the Green River near Saluda and Deep Creek in the Great Smoky Mountains.
- Whitewater Rafting: Get splashed while you go down the river through the rapids. Inflatable kayaks can get you even wetter! See our Whitewater Rafting Guide.
- High Elevation Hikes: If you want to hike on a summer day, head for the highest elevations and deep forests. Our favorite hike to keep cool on a very hot day is the Deep Gap Trail at Mt. Mitchell. Hike from the summit to Mt. Craig through a lush forest and never go below 6,000 feet in elevation. See our Deep Gap Trail Guide.
- Blue Ridge Parkway: Ride north or south on the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville and you will quickly climb in elevations, thus the temperatures drop. Have a cool picnic at Craggy Gardens or Mt. Pisgah. They will be at least 10 degrees cooler than the valleys.
- Shop! Spend the hottest part of the day browsing through the many air-conditioned art galleries and unique shops in downtown Asheville, Biltmore Village and many other small mountain towns like Hendersonville, Waynesville, Highlands and Brevard.
Cheers! End the day with cold beer in Beer City USA!