Blowing Rock in North Carolina is a tiny but adorable town that is a pleasure to visit. For a town of Blowing Rock’s size it has surprisingly much to offer. During your mountain escape you can explore the legend of the Blowing Rock that gave name to the village, see the impressive Flat Top Manor and make excursions on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The blowing rock that gave name to the village
In the southern end of Blowing Rock you find the legendary cliff, the Blowing Rock. Its formation is extraordinary and it offers beautiful views of the surroundings, unusual wind gusts that cause the snow to fall from below in the winter and even a romantic legend that has lasted for hundreds of years.
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The actual Blowing Rock
The Blowing Rock reaches out from the other parts of the mountain over the gorge below. At about 3,000 feet (900 m) above John’s River Gorge the overlook is truly captivating.
But the Blowing Rock is not only known for it’s beautiful views. It’s as renowned for the strong upward winds that come from the gorge below the rock.
Wind passes through the gorge toward the Blowing Rock. At the end of the gorge, at Blowing Rock, the wind follows the path of least resistance up the slopes until it reaches the outreaching rock.
This phenomenon causes snow in the winter to follow the wind and fall from below. Or upside down as some call it.
Try the phenomenom out yourself when you visit and throw something light that can’t hurt anyone or anything over the edge. If you pick a good day chances are in your advantage that you will experience the legendary gusts.
The Blowing Rock legend
The gusts of Blowing Rock have made it into a romantic story about an Indian man and woman.
As the legend goes a young Indian woman moved with her father to escape the wars between her tribe the Chickasaws and the rivals the Cherokees.
But love has its ways and one day when the young woman was looking for food she stumbled on a young man who hunted in the woods. Love struck them at first sight. But the love also meant big danger for both of them.
It was a dangerous love because the young man was Cherokee and not Chickasaw like the woman. Passion is a strong element and they continued to quietly see each other even though they were supposed to be enemies. At secret places in the woods they found solitude and enjoyed each other’s company for months.
However, one evening the couple saw a red glow in the sky. The glow drew them to a certain cliff, the Blowing Rock. From there they could see how the glow turned more and more red, until it took the color of fresh blood.
The Cherokee man interpreted the glow as a sign. As he understood it a huge battle with a lot of spilled blood would soon take place between the Cherokees and the Chickasaws.
Stuck between his duties as a Cherokee man and his love for the Chickasaw woman he saw no other solution but to leap off the rock toward the floor of the gorge.
All the Chickasaw woman could do was to pray to the gods about what had happened. She prayed them to make the wind send her love back to her where he belonged. And her prayers were heard and granted. The man was lifted right back by the wind to her arms.
As the legend goes on the couple after this event stopped hiding and instead used their love as an example to make the nations stop fighting.
Blowing Rock’s Flat Top Manor
Two miles (3 km) outside Blowing Rock you find the Moses H. Cone Park and the Flat Top Manor. Moses Cone was a very succesful man within the textile industry. He fell in love with Blowing Rock and together with his wife Bertha they developed the estate and built the house of their dreams.
Visit Moses H. Cone Park
Nowadays the estate belongs to the National Park Service. It goes under the name Moses H. Cone Park, or just Cone Park.
The 3600 acre (14,5 km2) estate was donated to the National Park Service as a public pleasure-ground in 1950.
And a pleasure-ground is just what it is. Here you nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains find lakes, trails, a family cemetery and an apple orchard.
Some of the trails are partly overgrown, but that only contributes to the charm.
A popular trail is the Flat Top Mountain Carriage Trail up to Observation Tower. There at the outlook you get a thorough view of the estate. The return hike from the manor is about 5.5 miles (8,9 km).
You can visit Moses H. Cone Park anytime during the year. It’s always open.
The Flat Top Manor itself
The jewel of the estate is the Flat Top Manor. The manor is a white mansion in Colonial Revival style which was completed in 1901.
Flat Top Manor consists of more than 20 rooms and while Cone Park always is open, the mansion is open for visits seasonally from spring to late fall or early winter.
A popular place easily gets more than one name. And the Flat Top Manor also goes under the names Moses H. Cone Mansion, Moses Cone Estate or simply put the Flat Top.
On the first floor of the Flat Top you find the Parkway Craft Center. Here you can buy handmade crafts including textiles, pottery, woodworks, jewelry, glass, toys, photography and painting.
To see more of the house you can take a seasonally arranged Cone Manor Tour. Then you get to see the second floor of the house while hearing more about the history of the Cone’s.
Drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Of all road trips you can make in America the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most beautiful ones. It stretches out from Shenandoah NP in Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains NP in North Carolina.
Blowing Rock is one of the best stops along the parkway. But there is much more to explore too.
Even if you’re not driving the entire 469 mile (750 km) Blue Ridge Parkway you could combine some of the sights that the parkway offers with your stay in Blowing Rock.
Some could be perfect stops on the way to or from Blowing Rock and some of the closer ones are within good day trip distance.
The best stops along the parkway from north to south include the Natural Bridge, McAfee Knob, Mabry Mill, Linn Cove Viaduct, Linville Gorge and Falls as well as Biltmore Estate.
Linn Cove Viaduct as well as Linville Gorge and Falls are less than an hour away from Blowing Rock, making them perfect day trip destinations.
Just like it sounds the Natural Bridge is a bridge that has been carved out by nature. It has been a popular place to visit for hundreds of years. President Thomas Jefferson was once the owner of the piece of land where you find the bridge.
Near Roanoke you can park your car and hike to the McAfee knob. It’s a rock perch that hangs out at the edge of the mountain. The rock and the views are spectacular and the hike to get there is peaceful.
Do you like idyllic places and pancakes? Then you have hit jackpot when you get to the Mabry Mill. Here you can learn a little bit about the history of the old mill and of course try the pancakes in the restaurant.
Linn Cove Viaduct
So how cool could a viaduct be? Well, the Linn Cove Viaduct has become a symbol for the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s one of the most photographed sights on the parkway and it’s easily accessible less than 30 minutes away from Blowing Rock. Drive over it or use the hiking trails for an even more magnificent view of the bridge and its surroundings.
Linville Gorge and Falls
Add another 20 minutes on the driving time from Linn Cove Viaduct and you reach Linville Gorge and Falls. It’s a beautiful area that includes a waterfall that moves in distinctive steps. Linville Falls may be the main attraction of Linville Gorge, but the entire area is stunning.
In Asheville you find America’s largest privately owned home. The home and its ground are breathtaking and not to be missed.
Continue reading: America’s favorite the Blue Ridge Parkway road trip >>
Other things to do in Blowing Rock
Once a year a festival to celebrate winter takes place in Blowing Rock, the WinterFest. And year round you find good shopping that includes the unique downtown stores and Tanger Outlets.
The annual WinterFest
Every winter the WinterFest is held in Blowing Rock. Winter is fun and that is celebrated in Blowing Rock.
The variety of the celebrations is impressive. The program is updated each year but popular inclusions have been a dog show, lake plunge, wine tasting, live music, s’mores and much more.
And Blowing Rock has been named one of America’s prettiest winter towns, so where could be a better place to celebrate the winter?
Shopping in Blowing Rock
Blowing Rock has risen to become a great shopping destination in North Carolina.
The downdown environment is unique with streets filled with boutiques, jewelry, art and home decoration shops. And the central district is very walking friendly, so it’s easy to get from store to store by foot.
Further down the road you find Tanger Outlets. There you have many of your favourite brands at competitive pricing. Make sure that you clear the trunk before you go!
The best time of the year for your mountain escape to Blowing Rock
So when is the best time of the year to go to Blowing Rock for that amazing mountain escape?
The answer is that Blowing Rock is a true year round destination, so you can go anytime that suits you. The Blue Ridge Mountains are beautiful every season of the year.
But have in mind that the Cone Manor is closed for visitors during the coldest months of the year. On the other hand Blowing Rock is one of the prettiest winter towns in America, so winter is still a wonderful time to go.
Where to stay in Blowing Rock
As mentioned already Blowing Rock is a very small village. But you can choose if you want to stay in the center of Blowing Rock or in the outer part and closer to the nature.
There are more than a handful quaint places to stay in Blowing Rock. Choose between lodges, inns, condoniums and cabins.
In no particular order here are some of the accomodation options that stand out in Blowing Rock.
Chetola Resort about a 20 minute walk from the center of Blowing Rock is always welcoming. Within the resort there are three different types of accomodation depending on what you’re after. Here you can stay in the lodge, bed and breakfast or a condonium.
The lodge at Chetola Resort
The lodge at Chetola Resort offers 42 rooms overlooking the lake or the grounds of Chetola. Here it’s always cozy and staying in is as tempting as enjoying the beautiful nature just steps away.
Bob Timberlake Inn
A second option is to stay in the historic Bob Timberlake Inn of the Chetola Resort. This bed and breakfast is located in Chetola’s Manor House. Each of the eight rooms is unique. But the highlight probably is the library on the third floor, with a vintage atmosphere impossible to not notice.
Chetola Resort Condoniums
The third option within the resort is to stay in Chetola Resort Condoniums. Enjoy the Chetola facilities including the fitness center, heated pool, spa, Timberlake’s Restaurant, tennis courts and more.
Meadowbrook Inn is located more centrally in Blowing Rock than the Chetola Resort. Here you only are a block away from the downtown area including shops, restaurants and galleries on the main street of Blowing Rock.
So at Meadowbrook Inn you can have a peaceful stay just a stone’s throw away from some of the most popular places to eat and drink in Blowing Rock.
Here you without any effort can mix your visits in the central area of Blowing Rock with relaxing time in your spacious room. And the indoor pool is wonderful so don’t forget to bring your bathing suit.
This boutique hotel with its about 60 rooms just in the center of Blowing Rock offers a very comfortable stay. The grounds of Meadowbrook Inn are not as impressive as the Chetola grounds. But on the other hand Meadowbrook Inn is a great option if you want to stay central in Blowing Rock.
Riverside Log Cabins
Riverside Log Cabins is an obvious choice if you look for a cabin to stay in. Here you stay in cabins that conveniently are located around five minutes by car away from Blowing Rock.
And from the cabins you have access to the Middle Fork Greenway Trail and are just a walk away from attractions such as Tweetsie Railroad, High Gravity Adventures and Mystery Hill.
Every cabin at Riverside Log Cabins has bedroom, bathroom, a living/dining/kitchen room and a private deck with rockers.
So if you choose Riverside Log Cabins you get to live a comfortable cabin life while still being close to many of the attractions in the area.
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