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outdoors-summer

Nature

ONE OF YOUR BEST OPPORTUNITIES TO SEE FLORA AND FAUNA 

ICONIC SIGHTS YOU'LL SEE 

Large tracts of national forest and animals are frequently sighted, at times crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway. That can be one of your best opportunities to see wildlife. Here are some iconic sights you'll see on a visit to the Boone Area's nature preserves.  

Red Spruce/Fraser Fir Forests

Parkway area summits are the highest in the East. Two scenic species of evergreens symbolize the cool northern climate of the Southern Appalachians. Red Spruce grows widely and ranges all the way to New England. Fraser Fir is native only to high summits in western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and southwestern Virginia. The nation's favorite species of Christmas tree grows in neat plantations along the Boone area part of the Parkway. Acid rain and ozone challenge both trees, and the tiny Balsam woolly adelgid is attacking Fraser Fir. In places you'll notice dead, skeletal stands of these evergreens-and places where the cool verdure of the forest is inspiring. Add sugar maples, yellow birches, and paper birches and you'll see why the Parkway's highest forests inspire comparisons with New England.

The Southern "Balds"

The tree-covered Southern Appalachians offer inspiring vistas from breezy mountaintop meadows called "balds." Despite being located at high elevations, these natural appearing meadows are not true alpine areas like those that lie above timberline in New England and the West. Parkway peaks would need to reach 8,000 feet for a severe high elevation climate to create treeless summits. Some think the unexplained meadows resulted from fires set by Native Americans to encourage game. The balds are one of the best places to enjoy the rhododendron bloom (link to the article "The King of Appalachian Spring" below). The meadows can easily be seen on the Boone area part of the Parkway at Craggy Gardens (and near the Parkway at Roan Mountain (link to hiking article).

Carolina Hemlock

The lacey boughs of Carolina Hemlock lend a northern feel to the Parkway's deciduous forests of oak, maple, and tulip poplar. These evergreens love water, so they grow to impressive height and girth in stream drainages and near lakes (such as Trout Lake in Blowing Rock). The bark of the hemlock contains tannin and was used to make a tanning treatment for hides. Sadly, the hemlock woolly adelgid may eradicate the species.

Ravens

A distinctive gargling croak denotes this giant black bird with a bulbous black beak. Often seen high on the Parkway, at Grandfather Mountain and Mount Mitchell, the birds soar along rocky crags and brave even bitter winter winds to frolic in blustery gusts. Quoth the traveler: "The raven never bores" with aerial acrobatics.

Turkeys

It's easier than ever to glimpse flocks of wild turkeys along the Parkway-populations of the birds have grown dramatically in North Carolina in recent years. Clusters of gobblers can often be glimpsed at the edges of fields and forests.

Bears

With the Parkway surrounded by thousands of acres of national forest, you could glimpse the reclusive black bear. The often-sinewy bruins range from 125 to 250 pounds. Parkway campers should use caution not to tempt bears with easily accessible food. Never feed bears or approach too closely, especially a mother with cubs.

Squirrels

North Carolina has its own subspecies of northern flying squirrels. It's rare to see these nocturnal gliders, but you will see the red squirrel, another species found far to the north that lives in the cool evergreen forests of Boone area mountains.

Salamanders

Groundhogs commonly stand alongside the ParkwayThe highest mountains and streams of the Parkway are home to more species of these slithering amphibians than any other place on the planet. Many Parkway area species are found nowhere else. Most salamanders are "lungless" and breath through their skin, so staying damp is essential. Their preferred habitat of misty forests and streamside sites makes them easy to observe under rocks and logs.

Groundhogs

You'll often see these furry, puffy-cheeked, roly-poly rodents calmly standing in the grass right beside the Parkway or perched atop stonewalls, munching away on the shoots of a verdant mountain summer. Members of the marmot group are also called woodchucks. They dig impressive burrows and experience a true three or more month hibernation in winter. Groundhogs whistle when alarmed, so mountain residents called them whistlepigs. 

DIVE INTO OUR INTERACTIVE MAP!

Zoom in close on the map below (use the plus sign and directional arrows at upper left, or repeatedly double click near, but not on, the map symbols). You can literally see the parking lots for Parkway destinations in this guide. Click any map symbol and information packed balloons pop up to describe locations all along the route. In the map balloons, click "Directions" to add your address and get step-by-step directions to Parkway locations from wherever you are. Start in the north, follow the road south, for a local's introduction to your own Boone-area Parkway adventure.

Featured Events

Mar 31

Fancy Pants: Part Deux -- Fine Wine &

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Taste 40+ wines at four favorite eateries in Boone: CoBo's, The Local, Proper and Vidalia. Plus, it's a Fancy Pants… more
Apr 01

38th Annual Blowing Rock Trout Derby

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The 38th Annual Derby begins at sunrise on Saturday, prizes awarded at 4:30pm. Win prizes for biggest fish in separate… more
Apr 01

5th Annual High Country Brewer's

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Boondocks is holding the 5th Annual High Country Brewer's Experience in West Jefferson (Ashe County), NC. This year… more
Apr 01

High Country Grizzlies vs. Dayton

4/1/17
High Country Grizzles is Boone's brand new indoor football team. Join them on Appalachian State Univeristy's campus at… more
Apr 08

5th Annual Boone Birding Festival

4/8/17
A FREE family-oriented festival celebrating the unique birding opportunities in the NC High Country! Valle Crucis Park… more
Apr 09

High Country Grizzlies vs. Jacksonville

4/9/17
High Country Grizzles is Boone's brand new indoor football team. Join them on Appalachian State Univeristy's campus at… more
Apr 20

SAVOR Blowing Rock

4/20/17 – 4/23/17
A four-day celebration of wine, craft beer, fine cuisine and entertainment, featuring lectures, art classes, cooking… more
Apr 29

NC Artisan Market and NC-centric Dishes

4/29/17
The backyard of the brewery will turn into a pop-up market featuring local North Carolina artisans. Celebrate both… more
Featured Events
815 W. King Street, Suite 10
Boone, NC 28607
(T) 828-266-1345  •  (F) 828-266-1346
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