Sunsets along the Blue Ridge Parkway, hikes to hidden waterfalls, and relaxing in our historic mountain towns are all favorite memories in the NC Mountains. Those memories are the best thing we can hold on to right now – good memories that last a lifetime. Reminiscing can help us stay positive even during hard times.
We’ve created a list of some of our favorite memories in the mountains. Use them as inspiration to begin planning your roadtrip when everything returns to normal. We can’t wait to welcome you back to Jackson County soon!
Seasons of Serenity
No matter the time of year, there are always memories to be made in the NC Mountains. From the first bloom of spring flowers to the changing of autumn’s hues, Jackson County NC and its towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro and Sylva, are full of scenic beauty, charming downtowns, and the best of southern hospitality.
Spring in the NC Mountains never comes a moment too soon. As spring blooms begin, everyone is ready to feel the warmth once again. Being one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the temperate world, Jackson County’s springtime display always puts on a show. From the blooming of cherry blossoms lining downtown Sylva, to the ever so rare Trillium nestled in higher elevations, Jackson County’s range in elevations means that there is something new in bloom every week and something different in every location.
Temperatures begin to pleasantly rise, and as late spring comes around, everyone enjoys making memories on the Tuck! The Tuckasegee River runs the length of the County, some 50 miles, and is a great place to cool off. Late spring also welcomes the opening of Fly Fishing season (April) and Rafting season (May), meaning anglers and paddlers alike enjoy making memories on the best of Jackson County’s waterways.
Water and warmth aren’t the only things that make this time of year exceptional. Many visitors enjoy making memories with locally guided tours. Pinnacle Forest Therapy enables one to experience Shinrin-Yoku, the Japanese art of “forest bathing” where you become immersed in the healing power of nature through meditative practice. For those who are interested in the region’s biodiversity, Bigelow’s Botanical Excursions is the way to go. This walking tour will expand your knowledge about the species that calls southern Appalachia home.
Warm days and cool shade, summertime is here! Summer temperatures are quite enjoyable in the mountains and remain relatively cooler than other Southern cities. These refreshing mountain temps are met with some of the most scenic vistas, majestic waterfalls, and marvelous mountaintops in the country, making the perfect backdrop for summer memories to be made.
With a seemingly endless array of waterfalls to explore, it can be almost impossible to enjoy them all in one day… unless you’re in Panthertown that is! Known as the “Yosemite of the East”, Panthertown is home to a dozen waterfalls. From the iconic Schoolhouse Falls with a relaxing swimming hole directly underneath, to the gentle cascade of Granny Burrell Falls, experiencing Panthertown is always a favorite. Explorers of Panthertown commonly pack a lunch and make a day out of it. The expansive tree canopy that covers most of the trails along with the cool streams allows for the temperatures to be ideal for a day of exploring.
Restaurants begin to take on a whole new ambiance as well during the summer months. From the open-air dining experience of Cornucopia to sitting on Main Street while enjoying a delicious farm-to-table meal at Guadalupe Café, Jackson County offers big city flavors without the crowds. Outdoor dining is a favorite during the summer months as the gentle breeze of a summer day adds the perfect complement to your dining experience. No summer day is complete without that perfect scoop (or 3) of Ice Cream! Jack the Dipper in Sylva, is home to the warm waffle cone and has been a local icon for more than 40 years. Folks like to enjoy their ice cream with a friendly game of checkers in this hometown sweet spot!
Autumn ushers in cooler temperatures with famous golden hues dotting the mountainside. With our elevation change from Sylva to Cashiers, we have one of the longest leaf seasons in the Country. There is nothing quite like witnessing the changing colors along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Many enjoy taking a picnic along the Parkway where they can enjoy watching an autumn sunset as the orange sky compliments the view of the changing leaves.
Fall foliage provides the perfect setting for a hike as well. Trails are greeted with the crunch of falling leaves as you stroll through the majestic forest with ideal hiking temps. For those who are looking for a challenge, Sylva’s Pinnacle Park is one of the best hikes for enjoying fall foliage. Ascending more than 3,000 feet over a 7-mile trek, hikers who take on this trail in the fall are greeted with an unforgettable view of Sylva and the valley below painted with the majesty of autumn’s hues.
Winter in the NC Mountains is a truly special time of year. As the leaves make their final descent off of the trees and the air becomes cool and crisp, festivities begin to transform our mountain towns into holiday havens.
There is nothing quite like selecting that perfect holiday centerpiece! Choose-and-cut tree farms are a staple of holiday tradition in Jackson County. With thousands of Frasier Firs to choose from, Jackson County tree farms create the ideal experience for you and your loved ones to enjoy.
The holiday cheer doesn’t stop here. The artisan village of Dillsboro is transformed into a winter wonderland of lights, candles, laughter, and song during the Lights and Luminaries festival. This “Top 20 Event” is a great time to find that perfect one-of-a-kind gift from a local artisan and enjoy free hot coco and a horse and buggy ride while you shop. Free photos with Santa are available and families love to take a picture with the big man himself!
The winter months in the NC Mountains mark the beginning of our “Secret Season.” January-March enjoy the most mountains for your money and special lodging packages. Snowcapped peaks in the distance make for a perfect backdrop for a winter adventure while you may even experience a light snow during your stay.
There’s nothing more memorable than learning something new. Many enjoy hitting the slopes for the first time in Sapphire Valley! Sapphire Valley Ski Resort offers the perfect place to learn how to ski or snowboard. Certified instructors of the Ski School will teach you and the crew how to shred the slopes. Families not looking to shred the powder can enjoy the slopes in a tube. Sapphire Valley also offers a 500-foot snow tubing run. Afterward, enjoy a hot cup of coco by the fire at Buck’s Coffee Café in nearby Cashiers.
We Will See You Soon!
Cherishing the best mountain memories will get us through some difficult times. We hope enjoyed these favorite memories from years past. For inspiration, make sure to follow us on Instagram or give us a like on Facebook. Needing a picture-perfect memory? Make sure to see some of our visitor’s best memories captured in our Visitor Galleries. We can’t wait to make more memories with you soon!