Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina

Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina

The beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains cover most of western North Carolina, including Asheville. While they extend from Georgia to Pennsylvania, the highest peaks are found here. In fact, Mt. Mitchell is the highest summit east of the Mississippi River. Much of Blue Ridge Mountains in our area are protected by Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests, home to rivers, rare plants and a multitude of wildlife.

The Blue Ridge is noted for having a blue tint, especially when seen from a distance. Trees release isoprene into the atmosphere to create the blue haze. Find thousands of miles of hiking trails and many spectacular waterfalls. Enjoy the views from one of the most scenic drives in America, the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Asheville is a perfect basecamp for exploring the mountains any time of year. Each season brings its own beauty. The winters are mild in the valleys but deliver plenty of snow in the highest mountains and ski resorts. Spring brings the greening of the mountains as leaves progress from valleys up to the mountaintops. Wildflowers abound. Summers bring plenty of sun, along with showers to nourish the waterfalls. Fall is the favorite time of year for many as the foliage turns a multitude of colors. When exploring, remember temperatures can vary greatly. Typically the city of Asheville is about 15 degrees warmer than the highest peaks.

Blue Ridge Mountains Things to Do

Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway
One of the most scenics roads in America (and part of the National Park Service), the Blue Ridge Parkway offers unmatched, spectacular mountain scenery. Drive north or south on the Parkway from Asheville and quickly ascend in elevation. It's all about the journey, so go slow, stop frequently and enjoy. To return from your starting point, you can often exit the Parkway onto a highway that provides a faster trip back.
Waterfalls Top 60
Waterfalls Top 60
Of hundreds of waterfalls near Asheville, we picked the most spectacular falls that are easy to find. Some can be enjoyed with a short walk or even roadside. Others require a scenic hike. See full descriptions for each with plenty of photos! Also see Waterfall Drives & Maps.
Mountain Hikes Top 60
Best 75 Mountain Hikes
There are thousands of miles of hiking trails near Asheville, many of which are pristine in national forests or parks. We picked our favorites and created extensive guides for each with photos and details. Find hikes all skill levels in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains.
Pisgah National Forest
Pisgah National Forest Guide
Explore and play in 500,000+ acres surrounding Asheville with some of the most beautiful and rugged mountain scenery, creating some of the best recreational opportunities in eastern North America. Pisgah National Forest covers much of the north and central western mountains of North Carolina - with rivers, waterfalls and hundreds of miles of trails.
Nantahala National Forest
Nantahala National Forest
The largest national forest in North Carolina (531,286 acres) covers much of the western tip of the state. Find a wealth of outdoor activities, including whitewater on the Nantahala River, waterfalls and plenty of scenic views.
Scenic Drives
16 Scenic Drives
See gorgeous countryside, mountain views and charming communities with a windshield tour with many stops along the way on many national and state scenic byways near Asheville.
Mount Mitchell
Mount Mitchell
Drive to the top of the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, located along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This state park has a observation tower, plenty of hiking, and a restaurant. Be prepared for much cooler temperatures there. Open all year round (except snowy days in the winter).
Swimming Holes
Sliding Rock & Swimming Holes
Be a kid again and splash around in a cool mountain swimming hole. Ride down Sliding Rock, swim under a waterfall, or sun on a mountain beach on a pristine lake. Or spend a lazy day tubing down a river.
Fly Fishing
Fly Fishing
Enjoy plenty of fishing spots, whether novice or experienced. Full- and half-day guided trips, tying classes, and classes especially for ladies.
NC Small Towns
Top 35 Coolest Mountain Small Towns
Explore our favorite cool small towns in the NC mountains near Asheville, each with its own personality, local shops and restaurants, friendly residents and relaxed atmosphere.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Top 15
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Top 15
Explore the most visited national park in the country! With 520,976 acres to explore, where do you begin? See our top places and hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains to visit near Asheville. Four entrances to the Park are within 60 miles of downtown Asheville.
Mountain Biking
Mountain Biking
So many options, especially for mountain bikes for riders of all skill levels. Plus, bike the Blue Ridge Parkway or a greenway.
Pet Friendly
Pet Friendly Guide - Asheville
Traveling with your dog? See our Pet Friendly Guide to Asheville and the North Carolina mountains, including lodging, hiking, Biltmore, kennels, dog parks and more.
Appalachian Trail
Appalachian Trail Day Hikes near Asheville
Talk a "walk in the woods" at the most scenic sections of the 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail near Asheville, high in the North Carolina mountains. See our favorite six day hikes for all fitness levels.
Picnics
Top 20 Picnic Spots
Dine outdoors with nature during a picnic at some amazing locations where you can enjoy sweet views.
Zip Line Tours Asheville
Top 8 Zip Line Canopy Tours
Fly above the trees and experience the mountain's natural beauty from a bird's perspective. See our favorite zip line canopy courses to enjoy in the Asheville area in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. No experience is needed. Canopy guides provide all instruction and assistance. So it's fun for all fitness levels!
Asheville Stand-Up Paddleboard
Stand-Up Paddleboard Trips
Find the best places to stand-up paddleboard in and near Asheville on pristine waters of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Rent SUPs, take lessons and even take a guided river trip. 

New to Asheville, starting in March 2017! Get a birds-eye view of Asheville, Biltmore and the Blue Ridge Mountains with an exhilarating helicopter scenic flight. Choose from a variety of routes that... read more
How can you help protect and preserve our beautiful North Carolina mountains? There are many non-profits organizations that are doing amazing work in the Asheville area. Here are our top recommended... read more
If you want to see the best of the North Carolina mountains near Asheville in just one afternoon or morning, this is the drive for you! At roughly 60-miles, this loop drive has many possible stops... read more