Blowing Rock, North Carolina

Blowing Rock, NCIn the mid-1700s, a pair of feuding Indians tribes, the Cherokee and the Catawba, called this part of the High Country home. Two young lovers, one from each tribe, were near the Rock one day when the brave realized it was time to return to his tribe. The Indian maiden begged him to stay with her, and, unable to choose between his tribal duties and his love, he leaped into the gorge far below. Distraught, the maiden beseeched the Great Spirit to return her lover. In answer to her fervent prayer, the strong winds of the John’s River Gorge blew him back to her.

This romantic legend is just part of Blowing Rock’s charm. A village of fewer than 1,500, the summer population swells to around 8,000 people. Astride the Eastern Continental Divide, 4,000 feet above sea level, Blowing Rock sees a bit of snow during the winter months, but its climate is generally quite pleasant and conducive to a variety of outdoor activities.

“A village of fewer than 1,500, the summer population swells to around 8,000 people.”

The Blue Ridge Parkway is easy to reach from Blowing Rock, offering an opportunity to drive on the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, surrounded by magical vistas and views that stretch for miles. Hiking trails abound throughout the area, including the easy one that winds around the lake in Moses Cone Park and the tougher climb around the Linn Cove Viaduct. Grandfather Mountain, which, according to some, is the world’s oldest mountain, is just a short drive away.

If hiking through shops is more your style, Blowing Rock’s short but picturesque Main Street has a variety of antique stores and boutiques, and many offer crafts by local artisans. Be sure to stop at the unique Dulcimer Shop or the Mast General Store. And, for serious bargain hunters, Blowing Rock features a small outlet mall.

With all that hiking and shopping, you’ll no doubt be ready for a great meal, and you will not be disappointed. You’ll find mountain basics including barbecue and ham biscuits, but Blowing Rock also serves up a full menu of excellent dining experiences at places such as Crippen’s Restaurant, which has received many accolades, and The Speckled Trout, which, of course, specializes in rainbow trout.

The legend of the Blowing Rock continues today but in a slightly different way. Once you’ve been to Blowing Rock, you’ll be back. Perhaps to stay.