Spring and summer activities — indoors and outdoors, for children and adults — abound in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. For your convenience we’ve compiled an extensive list of the best ones here. For both the young and the young at heart, there is everything from magical train rides through the mountains to wildlife tours on foot … and everything in between.
Zip lines in the Blue Ridge Mountains are incredibly popular and exciting, and some of the fastest and most thrilling zip lines in the nation are located right here in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains. Our list includes zip lines for all ages, with no experience required.
Whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and tubing are very popular, and can be enjoyed both rain or shine. You’ll find our extensive list of fun and exciting outdoor water sports and adventures here.
Professional fly fishing guides help both novices and experienced fishermen have more fun and catch more fish on beautiful public and private mountain streams, lakes and rivers.
Guided horseback rides offer an opportunity to explore the mountains in a fun way, and it’s a great activity for families and couples.
For a totally unique perspective, view the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains from the air in a hot-air balloon.
If you’re looking for a terrific golf experience, we’ve prepared a list of excellent mountain golf courses, all with challenging greens, beautiful layouts, scenic views, abundant wildlife, and great golf pros.
Two of the most popular attractions are Grandfather Mountain with its lofty altitude, beautiful scenery, mile-high swinging bridge, environmental habitats for native wildlife, nature museum, restaurant, gift shop, hiking trails, picnic areas, naturalist programs and more. …and Chimney Rock Park, with its 400-ft.-high Hickory Nut Falls, nature trails, newly renovated elevator and Sky Lounge, guided hikes and rock climbing, workshops and many other special events.
Those who enjoy two-wheeled touring will find motorcycle rental firms listed here.
Adults enjoy art and craft galleries throughout the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains.
Every vacation deserves great food, so our list of restaurants in the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains is guaranteed to wet your appetite and satisfy your palate, whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner, a hearty breakfast, a good lunch, or a fun family meal, you’ll find what you need here.
One of the most popular attractions in our area is the Blue Ridge Parkway and the many other scenic highways and byways. We’ve provided an extensive list of fun roads, with beautiful views and lots of curves and elevation changes. Clicking on each map will take you to an interactive Google map of the scenic road so you can zoom in or out, and get distances and other details. We’ve also created a list of live webcams, maps and other information for great rides in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
You’ll also find information on the best inns, resorts, and vacation rentals on our Accommodations page.
We hope you have a wonderful time this year in the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
Dennis Sabo is one of our favorite photographers – and not just because he’s won international awards for his art or because he’s been published in so many well known periodicals. Dennis has an incredible way of making us connect with the images he creates. His photos make us long to be right where he was when he took them. Here are just a few examples of his work in our beautiful mountains…
In addition to his many landscape images of the eastern mountains, Dennis has a large, gorgeous collection of seascape, tropical scenics, reef life, nature and abstract art. And he recently made a trek back to the northwest coast and captured some amazing shots along the beach. Here are a few examples I really liked…
Dennis Sabo’s fine art is available in several media to grace homes, offices, and lodging facilities. When he’s not outside shooting his next masterpiece, he likes to chat with other photographers and clients. Dennis resides with his wife, Karen, in Loudon, Tennessee.
Check out the new art installation by photographer Rob Travis at the Cradle of Forestry on Highway 276 near Brevard, NC. The photographic triptych is hard to miss, measuring 30” x 90” and hanging right behind the welcome desk – it’s an impressive depiction of the valley that’s home to the Cradle of Forestry.
Known as the “Birthplace of Forest Conservation in America” the Cradle of Forestry historic site resides in a 6,500 acre valley just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Rob worked with Carlton Murrey, the director of the Cradle of Forestry Interpretive Association of America, and other Cradle personnel. In June they made their first trip together to Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower, a U.S. Forest Service location on the Blue Ridge Parkway (milepost 409.6). The group climbed six flights of stairs to the observation deck, with its expansive views of the valley.
Rob saw Looking Glass Rock to the right with “Cradle Valley” in the center of the view. “This was perfect – I just couldn’t get it all in a single image. I decided then on a stitched panoramic moving left to right. I picked a landscape point and rotated to the right 80 degrees. I kept doing this so each exposure had about a 20% overlap with its predecessor. Then I took seven, eight, nine images.”
His goal that first trip was to ensure that Carlton and the others understood his vision for the picture. After looking at the panoramic at home on his computer, Rob said “yes, that’s it” and emailed his vision to Carlton.
Once he knew it was a panoramic, Rob decided to present the visual in a triptych. “The image will hang in a public space and it’s challenging to frame a 7-foot work. Also, it’s much easier to repair one section if that’s ever needed. The triptych is also a nice design element.
Rob decided on either a sunrise or sunset shot to play off the colors in the sky. “That first trip was late afternoon and the valley was already in the shadows. I wanted to try a sunrise. The color in the sky adds a pop. With sunrise I got an easterly illumination of the valley.”
Rob made five trips to the top of the lookout tower on Fryingpan Mountain, each time he worked to get the best rendition of the valley using his panoramic method.
Carlton and the Cradle of Forestry selected his image, and the seven foot triptych was installed at the Cradle of Forestry during the first week of August. Rob is pleased with the outcome. “The setting there at the Cradle is terrific and the image benefits from the great lighting. I hope that visitors enjoy it too and that there will be many photos taken with ‘The Cradle of Forestry in the Pink Beds’ as the backdrop.”
Camera and Shooting Details: Canon EOS 5D MK2, Gitzo Tripod, EF-S 28-135mm lens, vertical orientation, no polarizer or AWB, remote shutter release, mirror lock-up. Each individual capture f/14 at 40mm, 2 second exposure, ISO 100.
About Rob Travis: Rob offers fine art photography, commercial and editorial images and a series of workshops designed for photographers of all skill levels. His photography is available at:
Blue Moon Art and Photography, 10771 Greenville Hwy., Cedar Mountain, NC
French Broad Place, 29 W French Broad, Brevard, NC 28712
Woolworth Walk, 25 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC
Kress Emporium, 19 Patton Avenue, Asheville, NC
Cindy Saadeh Gallery, 128 E Market Street, Kingsport, TN
About the Cradle of Forestry: located on Hwy. 276 north of Brevard; open every day, April 11- November 8, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; $5.00 for adults 16 years of age and older. Free for everyone on Tuesdays (except guided group programs by reservation).
Article Contributed by: Joan Van Orman