Looking for the best and most beautiful mountain views near Asheville in the western North Carolina mountains? Here are our favorite spots that are FREE to enjoy, without an admission fee. We are lucky to be surrounded by national and state parks and forests that preserve so much mountain land to explore and see. Some views are roadside and easy to see, while others require a hike. Each season brings a new face to these views, so they are beautiful anytime during the year. Click on the links to read more about each location.
1. Blue Ridge Parkway: There are so many spectacular mountain views from roadside overlooks that you can enjoy. You don't even have to get out of the car! Don't miss one of the most scenic drives in all of America.
2. Craggy Gardens: Our favorite mountain view near Asheville is from atop Craggy Pinnacle along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It requires a 1.5-mile roundtrip hike to the top (not difficult). The reward is a 360-degree view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It's a great spot for a picnic and romantic moments! Since the elevation is almost 5,900 feet, it's always cooler and often in the clouds. Take a jacket. On cloudy days, the clouds will pass through you or below you. Very magical! Also enjoy great views from the Craggy Gardens Visitor's Center on the Parkway from the parking area.
3. Mt. Mitchell: Drive to the top and take the short trail (ADA accessible) to the observation deck atop the highest peak east of the Rockies. See 360-degree views while reading about the surrounding peaks on diagrams on the desk. While the winter can be very harsh, Mt. Mitchell is open year-round, weather permitting. The peak is often covered in rime ice and snow cover in the winter months.
4. Black Balsam Knob: Hike across spectacular mountain balds. These treeless mountaintops in the Pisgah National Forest, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, offer sweeping views and alpine-like appearance. Hike three miles without dropping back into the trees.
5. Max Patch: This gently sloped high knob has open land with 360-degree views. On a clear day, you can see from Mt. Mitchell on the east to the Great Smoky Mountains on the south. What a picnic spot! And great for star gazing and enjoying wildflowers. Hike the easy loop around the summit or continue further on the Appalachian Trail.
6. Linville Gorge: Enjoy spectacular views of the striking Linville Gorge from atop Hawksbill Mountain and Table Rock Mountain. The trailheads to these hikes are just five miles apart. Since both trails are short (one is 1.5 miles and the other is 2.2 miles), you can hike them back-to-back!
7. Roan Mountain: Famous for its spectacular natural gardens of Catawba rhododendrons, Roan Mountain is actually not one mountain, but a high ridge about 5 miles long along grassy balds. The highest point is 6,286 feet. Hike the ridge on the Appalachian Trail for sweeping views all along the way. It's a great winter hiking spot!
8. Clingman's Dome: See 360-degree views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from the highest point in the Smokies. A 1/2-mile steep hike takes you to the observation tower. Take a jacket since it's often breezy and chilly.
9. Chestoa View: One of the best kept secrets on the Blue Ridge Parkway is this overlook (elevation 4,090 ft) with a breathtaking view of Linville Gorge, including Table Rock and Hawksbill Mountain. From the parking area, it's a short (1/3 mile) walk to the rock-walled viewing area.
10. Rough Ridge: This unique hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway offers plenty of viewpoints and a wooden boardwalk over fragile vegetation. The two-mile roundtrip to the summit features rock outcrops to enjoy the views of Grandfather Mountain, Linn Cove Viaduct and multiple mountain ranges in several directions.
11. Whiteside Mountain: A moderate two-mile loop hike takes you on top of sheer 750-foot high cliffs (plenty of railings for safety) with outstanding views of the Nantahala National Forest, near Cashiers and Highlands.
12. Devil's Courthouse: At 5,700-feet in elevation, you can see for miles and miles. A short but strenuous 1/2-mile trail climbs to its peak. The mostly paved trail starts from the Blue Ridge Parkway overlook beside the mountain.
13. Looking Glass Rock: For 180+ degree views of Pisgah National Forest from atop a rock face, you'll have to take a strenuous 6.5-mile roundtrip hike, climbing 1,700 feet. But there is plenty of room to lay back and relax. Take a picnic!
14. Mt. LeConte & Alum Cave Trail: For THE best day hike in the Great Smokies (and one of our favorites anywhere in the mountains), hike 13-mile roundtrip with interesting geological features and stunning views along the way to the 6,593-foot summit of Mount LeConte (third highest peak in the Smokies). Allow all day for this hike, since you'll climb 2,853 feet in elevation on Alum Cave Trail. The photo is one of two great viewpoints on top of Mt. LeConte. The Mount LeConte Lodge at the summit offers lunch to day hikers! So call ahead and make a lunch reservation for nourishment at the top.
15. Lake Lure: Enjoy the mountain views of the Hickory Nut Gorge as you drive along the lake from the lakeside park and beach. Also, take a boat tour from the marina. Nearby, see the rock cliffs at Chimney Rock.
Help protect our scenic mountain views: NC Mountain Conservancy & Protection Groups