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. The highest point in the Blue Ridge is Mount Mitchell which reaches 6,684 feet in elevation. Located in Mount Mitchell State Park, just about 30 miles away from downtown Asheville, Mt. Mitchell is not just the highest peak in the Blue Ridge it is also the highest summit east of the Mississippi River.
Part of the Appalachian Mountains, the Blue Ridge is known for being shrouded in a lovely bluish haze, especially when seen from a distance. This phenomenon is actually caused by trees. Oaks and other trees that thrive in the Blue Ridge release isoprene, a common hydrocarbon, to protect their leaves from heat stress and those emissions create the famous blue tint you see in these mountains.
The Blue Ridge is also famous for being one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the United States. Here you will find thousands of miles of hiking trails and many spectacular waterfalls. You don’t have to hike to enjoy the views though! The Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most scenic drives in America, winds right through these mountains.
If you are planning a Blue Ridge getaway, Asheville is the perfect base camp for exploring these mountains any time of year. This travel guide will help you plan your trip. From outdoors activities like hiking, fly-fishing and tubing to scenic drives and fun mountain towns there is plenty to do and see and experience in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Blue Ridge Mountains Things to Do
Beautiful Blue Ridge Every Season of the Year
Each season brings its own beauty to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- Winter is typically mild in the valleys, but delivers plenty of snow in the high elevations where the ski resorts are found. The lack of tree leaves means that winter hikes can offer some of the best long range views of the year.
- Spring is a season of greening–new leaves appear first in the valleys then spread all the way up to the mountaintops. Wildflowers abound and flowering shrubs such as rhododendron, flame azalea, and mountain laurel provide splashes of color among the greenery.
- Summer brings plenty of sun and warm days. Common afternoon rain showers keep the leaves green and the waterfalls flowing.
- Fall is a favorite time of year for many as the foliage turns from green to vibrant red, yellow, and orange. Dogwood, sourwood, blackgum, tulip-poplar, hickory, maple, oak–each variety of tree found in the Blue Ridge produces its own unique color. See Romantic Asheville’s Fall Color Forecast to get tips on the best time to visit this part of the Blue Ridge in Autumn.
There is so much to do here year round that you may want to plan multiple trips to see the best of the Blue Ridge each season. Just remember that no matter what time of year you come here to go exploring, temperatures can vary greatly. Typically, the city of Asheville is about 15 degrees warmer than the highest peaks. Even in summer you’ll want to bring a warm sweater or jacket with you for a hike in the upper elevations.
A List of National Parks and Forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains
Planning a trip to see the full Blue Ridge Mountain range? You’ll be making quite a road trip! The Blue Ridge Province stretches from Georgia through Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, all the way to Pennsylvania.
If you plan on visiting all National Parks and Forests along the way, you have a lot of ground to cover: Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive in Virginia; the Blue Ridge Parkway, Pisgah National Forest, and Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina; Great Smoky Mountain National Park in NC and Tennessee; Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee, Chattahoochee National Forest in North Georgia; and the Jefferson and George Washington National Forests in Virginia.