Y’all, it’s hot outside! Summer is a delightful time of the year and although the temperatures may be peaking, there is a place not too far away where you can escape and beat the heat of summer. The North Carolina Mountain towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro and Sylva not only offer a wide array of outdoor adventure options to explore, but they also provide the ideal temperatures to enjoy them comfortably. While urban cities can expect an average August temperature of 90-plus degrees, morning temperatures in Jackson County start around 60 degrees and in higher elevations maintain a comfortable mid-70s all day long.
It’s for this reason that long before air conditioning, people ventured here during the summer months to enjoy the crisp, clean and cool mountain air. Jackson County, NC is only a half day’s drive from the Southeast’s largest (and hottest) cities, with an ideal elevation offering a refreshing mountain oasis, full of fun activities for everyone to enjoy.
Scenic Swimming Holes
One of the best ways to chill out and have a blast is to enjoy a natural swimming hole. Cashiers is home to several scenic waterfalls with naturally cool swimming holes underneath. Silver Run Falls offers a family-friendly swimming area beneath its iconic cascade. Visitors to the falls enjoy the shimmering waters from the soft silver-colored mica and sand, as well as large rocks to spread out towels and relax in the sun. If you and your travel party prefer a waterslide, Cashiers’ Sliding Rock is the way to go. Perfect for families, this natural waterslide is a hidden gem in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains – free of charge.
Get the best of both worlds, the beach AND the mountains, and head over for a swim at the Pines Recreation Area in Glenville. This spacious beach is complete with an accessible fishing pier, restrooms, and picnic benches perfect for enjoying a picnic by the shore. If you’re looking for a crowd-free, off the beaten path experience, check out the East Fork Lakes, including Balsam, Wolf and Bear Lakes. These lakes are known for their seclusion, as well as lake fishing, as small and largemouth bass call these waters home.
Tip: Weekdays, especially earlier in the day, offer a crowd-free adventure perfect for you and your travel party to enjoy. This is especially true at Silver Run Falls and Cashiers’ Sliding Rock, which have limited parking.
Boredom Be Gone with Cool Activities
The best way to beat boredom is by trying a new activity! Paddle sports, including rafting, kayaking, and standup paddle boarding, are favorites among locals and visitors alike – offering a great way to get out and explore while enjoying the refreshing temps. The Tuckasegee River runs almost the whole length of Jackson County and provides an excellent environment for all skill levels to take on its gentle rapids. Those looking to sharpen their skills will want to paddle the day away during the West Fork Dam releases, where rapids accelerate to Class IV over a 5.5-mile stretch.
If you prefer calmer waters with plenty of room to spread out, paddling along our lakes is a great option. With over 26-miles of shoreline, three hidden waterfalls, and seven islands, Lake Glenville is Jackson County’s largest lake. Check out Lakeshore Marina or Signal Ridge Marina for rental options, including kayaks, canoes, pontoons, paddleboards and more.
Reel in your own “catch of the day” along the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail®. Highlighting 15-spots to catch Brook, Brown, and Rainbow Trout, angling the trail is a great way to spend the day, cooling off and trying something new. Our outfitters and guides have the gear and skills needed to teach you how to navigate the waters of the NC Trout Capital®.
The Coolest Air & Views
Reaching new heights has its perks. The best views and coolest temps are found along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Known as “America’s Most Celebrated Motor Route,” the Parkway spans 469 miles through the Blue Ridge Mountains and has more than 70 miles that run along Jackson County’s Northeast border. The Parkway tends to remain about 10 degrees cooler than the town of Sylva, so temperatures remain pleasant throughout the summer. You’ll experience some of the most scenic vistas in the country as you cruise on the road above the clouds.
Head South on the Parkway towards Cherokee for a day full of adventure. The Parkway’s most Southern terminus, (mile 469), ends at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Jackson County is home to the less crowded side of the Smokies, meaning you can spend less time in traffic, and more time enjoying the ride. We’ve got the perfect road trip itinerary to help you make the most out of this route.
Tip: Experience a “golden hour” sunset along the Parkway. Grab a carryout meal from one of our delicious restaurants and make a picnic.
Cool Down with a Cold Treat
From cold ice cream to “hoppening” breweries, cooling off in the mountains never tasted so good! The Jackson County Ale Trail is comprised of six breweries with over 120 cold and refreshing locally brewed craft beverages on tap.
In the mood for ice cream? Jack the Dipper’s famous waffle cone is a must. For over 30 years, Jack the Dipper has been scooping up the perfect portions for you to cool off. Nothing complements a day of cool mountain adventure better than winding down with a cone, a brew, or both!
Make Your Getaway with a Cool Place to Stay
Ready to cool off? Request our FREE Visitors Guide highlighting the best of what Jackson County has to offer. Your NC mountain getaway also has the coolest prices with its affordable accommodations, including cabins, hotels, Airbnbs and more. Are you ready to cool off in the NC Mountains? Plan your trip today!