Road Trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina – Banner Elk and Grandfather Mountain

One hot, sweltering day last summer in the flat lands of North Carolina, me and my biker buddy thought it was about time to plan for a weekend road trip. Not wanting to spend too much time getting there, but definitely wanting a change of scenery and to escape the stifling summer heat, we decided to check out the Grandfather Mountain area in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains, just about an hour and half drive from home in Mooresville N.C.

That Friday we took off work two hours early, packed our saddlebags and hopped on our hogs heading up 77 to I 40, destination Banner Elk, North Carolina. We turned off the Interstate in the foothills at Morganton, and after some cruising through the small Mayberry like town, soon found ourselves leaning into the curves, past Table Rock and numerous mountain vistas, the summer heat already melting away. Occasionally getting trapped behind a local, never in a hurry to get anywhere, we soon encountered a passing lane and sped on our way.

We got on 105 in Linville and we knew we were almost there. Cruising the next 7 miles in the shadow of Grandfather Mountain, we arrived at the stone buildings of Tynecastle, turned left heading down the valley past Sugar Mountain and into the town of Banner Elk. We had made reservations at the Banner Elk Inn Bed & Breakfast, so we turned right at the only stoplight and were soon checking in.

Being the cocktail hour, we stretched our legs with a nice cool walk into town and visited some local bistros, then crossed the street and headed to Stonewalls were we enjoyed an excellent steak dinner.

Saturday was to be a day to cruise the area. After a hearty breakfast at the Inn, we saddled up and headed back to Linville Falls, were we caught up with the Blue Ridge Parkway. Heading north towards Blowing Rock, the Blue Ridge Parkway is chocked full of winding roads and beautiful mountain views, one of the best ways to tour the mountains of North Carolina.

Shortly after hitting the Parkway we came upon the Linn Cove Viaduct. An engineering marvel, the viaduct is an elevated bridge that wraps around Grandfather Mountain for some eight miles, and has some of the best mountain views on the Parkway. Designed to blend in, the bridge is a fine example of Mother Nature and the man made coexisting. We stopped to take a hike on the trail that goes underneath the Linn Cove Viaduct to get a better view of some truly impressive architecture.

Julian Price Park was the next stop on the Parkway, with a primitive campground and a beautiful lake that offers some excellent trout fishing. The park covers over 4000 acres and has 25 miles of hiking trails. An amphitheater, picnic grounds, and canoe rentals make Julian Price an excellent place to spend the day. We spent a couple of hours, then moved on towards Blowing Rock.

We exited the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Moses Cone Memorial Park, checked out the Crafts Center, and moved on to Blowing Rock for lunch. On the way back, we took the road to Boone, home of Appalachian State University, and turned up 105 back to Banner Elk.

Back at the Inn, there was plenty of daylight left so we took a little break, hopped back on our bikes and headed up the mountain to Valle Crucis. A really fun narrow winding mountain road with one really mean switchback at the top, the ride down the mountain had some great mountain views as we passed farm houses, retreats, horse farms, and some quant little bed and breakfasts tucked away in there own mountain nooks.

Valle Crucis is a very rural community, its hub being the Mast General Store were we stopped for a look see. The Mast family has a large presence here with two stores and the Mast Inn, one of the best of the many Bed and Breakfast Inns in the area. This is where you come when you really want to get away from it all. A mountain retreat with 2 quality horse farms for those who like to ride the live things.

On the way back to Banner Elk via 105, we were having so much fun on these tight little roads that we decided to head on up to Seven Devils, a vacation resort area with the Hawksnest Ski Resort and Golf Coarse at the top of the mountain.

After a full day of riding, back in Banner Elk we headed to happy hour at the Bayou Smokehouse and Grill and stayed all night, scarfing down brewskis, Texas style Bar-B-Que, and some great Louisiana Cajun Cuisine.

Sunday was the day to conquer the big daddy of them all, Grandfather Mountain. Having been on the road all day Saturday, today we were going to do some serious hiking.

With the tallest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Grandfather Mountain sits on the eastern continental divide and is host to the annual gathering of Scottish clans, and the Highland Games. We passed McRae Meadows and paid the $14 per person to enter the privately owned mountain. We parked briefly at the nature museum and took a quick tour of the wildlife habitat, which features animals native to the region on display in their natural habitat.

As we headed up to the mile high swinging bridge, we could see the clouds racing through the gaps between the peaks. It was a cool, foggy overcast type of day as it so often is in the mountains of North Carolina, and visibility was patchy at best. But we were here for a hike, and hiking is what we did.

We started the trek towards Calloway Peak, and being in the middle of the summer, we had plenty of company. The well marked trail led us through some easy to difficult terrain with ropes and wooden ladders to aid us in climbing the rock faces, and several open vistas where we could recognize Mt. Mitchell on the horizon, and the Sugar Top condos at Sugar Mountain as we viewed the cloud cover below us.

We never made it to the very top of Calloway Peak, the higher you go the harder it gets, but we did wind up getting a good workout, and the hike down was just about as hard as going up. We got back to the swinging bridge parking lot, caught our breath, then mounted our bikes for the trip back home. It was good to have the vibration of the road under us again, and by the time we left the foothills of Morganton, the cool mountain breezes were already becoming a fond memory.

Whether by motorcycle, car, or truck, a road trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina is a great way to beat the heat. The area surrounding Banner Elk and Grandfather Mountain is peppered with vacation homes of people from all over the south east, a large proportion escaping the hot, humid summers of Florida.

Outdoor activities abound all year round with skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and hiking, fishing, kayaking, white water rafting, tennis and golf, camping, or just plain cruising the roads in the spring, summer and fall.

Whatever your pleasure, Banner Elk and Grandfather Mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains is a great destination for the great American road trip.

Find the Best Holiday Travel Deals!

Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. You can lower the costs significantly if you follow the tips here.

When people think of traveling, they often think of far-away countries. And they are indeed amazing! There is so much to see in the world. So how to choose the best destination? Now we are talking about money. Find a country where your money is worth more than back home. That way you can travel for a longer period of time without having to worry about your budget. Asia and South America are generally your best choices, and you can also consider some parts of Eastern Europe. However, unless you have a plan B money-wise, stay clear from Paris, London, Rome, Milan.. all the exciting cities you have heard so much about! They are magnificent, but you won’t like the prices.

When looking for the best holiday travel deals, you need to keep your eyes open and know where to look. Compare different search engines. Create a travel alert which follows the prices for you and emails the results. Follow different airlines and their offers. And most importantly: if you know when you want to travel and where you want to go, start looking for your tickets early! Usually the price starts going up at least eight weeks before the departure, even earlier if you are planning to travel before popular holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas, when everyone seems to be traveling.

There is an alternative approach to this: if exact dates and locations are not an issue, you can try your look and wait for last-minute deals. You might find excellent offers.. or not. Have a plan B for how to spend your holiday if this one falls through. These same tips will naturally work for getting the best holiday travel deals for cruises and trip packages too.

One good way to spend less money at your holiday destination and find exciting hidden places is to ask the local people for suggestions for what to do. If you want an honest answer, ask something like “where would you go for Japanese food” (or whatever it is you are after) instead of “where should I go for Japanese food”. That way they are less likely to suggest places made for tourists, since locals rarely visit them. If you are lucky, the people might show you around or invite you to have lunch with them at their favorite restaurant. Finding some local gems is both cheaper and more interesting than following your guide book to a tee.


Spa Deals And Cheap Holiday Deals Can Assist You In More Ways Than One

The daily routine of an average individual in today’s times of advanced epochs of state of the art technologies and a really busy professional life is taking its toll on the relationships and family ties, which is why it is utterly imperative to take out time from your busy life and plan a holiday or a vacation with your family to a distant destination. What was the last time you went for a vacation, where you didn’t have to answer your boss’s call or reply to a client’s mail, your wife could have all the time with you and your kid could play till he was tired.

Well if you can’t remember this, you definitely need to travel to a far off destination for a holiday. In this article, we will discuss about how to go about laying your hands on the best travel deals and Restaurant Deals. First of all you need to self analyze your requirements, budget constraints, the destination where you want to holiday, the time you have in hand and a lot more factors. Cheap holiday deals are alluring and lucrative, but you must also double check that it is not leaving out any obligatory facility. Your spouse could choose to indulge herself in a beautiful yet Cheap spa experience with excellent spa packages while on the vacation.

Therefore, it is wise to pick a destination which will endow you with all inclusive amenities. Avoid side trips in your holiday as they will escalate your expenses in a big way. The best place to look out for cheap holiday deals and Restaurant Deals is of course the World Wide Web. With a bit of intricate research on the internet, you will be able to lay your hands on some of the best travel deals accessible all over the globe. But the sheer assortment of service providers that you will encounter will perplex and bewilder you to a great extent.

In such a milieu, it is imperative for you to consider certain imperative factors, before chipping in for a certain web portal which self claim to proffer the Restaurant Deals or cheap holiday deals. You should look at the market repute that the service provider enjoys the security aspects of their payment gateways, if they have some hidden costs, if they proffer any discount schemes and special coupons, if their facilities include a trip to beauty spa and a lot more.