BLOWING ROCK, N.C. -The Blowing Rock became North Carolina's first tourist attraction in 1933 and remains a popular spot today for High Country visitors.
The rock juts out from a large granite cliff overhanging the Johns River Gorge. It rests at 3,600 feet in elevation and nearly 3,000 feet above the gorge. From this perch and several others on property, travelers take in one of the state's best panoramic views.
The horizon is filled with such notable peaks as: Grandfather Mountain, Hawksbill, Table Rock, and the highest mountain east of the Mississippi, Mount Mitchell. Many other High Country summits can be seen from this one location.
The Blowing Rock derives its name from an unusual prevailing wind that blows upward from the gorge. The rocky walls of the gorge form a flume through which the northwest wind sweeps with such force that the air current flows upward.
Visitors often drop light objects, such as leaves or flower petals, over the side and watch them float back up. It's been called the only place in the world where snow falls upward.
Like many spots in the mountains, The Blowing Rock has a Native American legend attached to it. It is said that an Indian maiden playfully shot an arrow at a Cherokee brave in the wilderness below the rock. He soon appeared and they became lovers, until one day when a strange reddening sky brought the couple back to the rock.
To him it was a sign he must return to protect his tribe in the plains. Torn between a love for her and a duty to his people, he leapt from the rock into the wilderness below. The maiden prayed daily to the Great Spirit until one day a gust of wind blew her lover back into her arms
Whether or not they believe the legend, visitors enjoy the unusual air current.
Visitors to The Blowing Rock can take in the scenic views from a special observation tower, visit a gift shop in the main building, and eat at a snack bar out back. There's also a picnic area and a nature trail that runs across the property.
Hours are 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. daily, in season. For info, visit www.theblowingrock.com.