With stunning summits, expansive rivers, spectacular waterfalls and crystal-clear lakes, Jackson County, North Carolina’s 494 square miles of natural beauty shines no matter what time of year. Along with the wealth of natural wonders, the man-made treasures, culinary offerings and cultural attractions elevate the experience even further. The mountain towns of Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro and Sylva in Jackson County, North Carolina await. The picturesque views that surround the county may change colors with the seasons, but the beauty of the destination never fades.
Why visit in the spring?
As winter starts to melt away, the winding trails of the county spring alive with bursts of reds, blues, purples, pinks and yellows. Blossoming wildflowers, such as the delicate painted trillium, larger Mayapple and tiny bluets, brighten and line the county’s most popular trails. From novice to more adventurous, Jackson County is home to some of Western North Carolina’s finest hiking trails. Download a free trail map to plan a hike and take in this lively time of year in the mountains. As warmer temps start to come in, so do the celebrations. Come visit during the spring months to enjoy the following events.
- Celebrate the arrival of spring with the Greening Up the Mountains street festival in downtown Sylva. The festival hosts various arts, craft, retail, and artisanal food vendors, ranging from paintings and pottery to locally-made soaps, jewelry, stained glass ornaments, and much more. Experience the annual festival that draws more than 10,000 visitors every year.
- Hook, Line and Drinker features fishing guides, fishing industry vendors, food trucks, activities, craft beer, live music and a farmer’s market.
- Whether you enjoy sipping a smooth golden ale, something hoppy or a dark IPA, Jackson County’s craft breweries have you covered. In April, the county celebrates NC Beer with several beer-related events.
Why visit in the summer?
This summer, trade the heat, large crowds and high prices for cooler mountain temperatures, endless outdoor adventures and affordability by escaping to Jackson County. Instead of the waves, discover one of the counties many natural waterfalls, take the family rafting down the Tuckasegee River, or learn how to fly fish in the pristine waters of the state’s Trout Capital®. The county is filled with more than two dozen waterfalls, including one of the tallest east of the Rocky Mountains, Whitewater Falls. Cold brews, good food, free festivals and good tunes also await visitors to the county during the summer months.
- Jackson County embraces mountain traditions and the longstanding craft of pottery. Pots on the Green brings the region’s most talented potters to the area to display and sell their pottery as well as participate in demonstrations.
- Several fireworks displays light up the night sky during Fourth of July in Jackson County. Music, dancing, food and much more to add to the celebration.
- The much-anticipated summer concert series Concerts on the Creek, located in Sylva, and Groovin’ on the Green, located in Cashiers, take place every Friday night from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
- Plein Air Festival, a biennial event that will be taking place in 2018, brings nationally acclaimed painters from throughout the country to set up their easels to capture the beauty of the North Carolina Mountains. Their original art is displayed for viewing and sale in Cashiers.
- Visitors can test their endurance and abilities by traversing the beautiful terrain of Jackson County by foot, bike and canoe in the Great Balsam Relay. Participants will challenge themselves by trekking, cycling, and canoeing through the inspiring rivers and ridgetops.
Why visit in fall?
Jackson County is a key location for those who love fall. With a stop here, visitors can take leaf peeping to new heights with scenic drives through the Great Smoky Mountains and on the Blue Ridge Parkway. With the majestic mountains as a picturesque backdrop, travelers on the move for the best seasonal displays will find the fall colors of their leaf-seeking dreams in Jackson County. Mountain rentals, B&B’s and hotels fill up quickly this time of year as guests flock to see the mountains don a new wardrobe.
- Mountain Heritage Day, known as one of the “Top 20 Southeast Arts Events,” by the Southeast Tourism Society, is a combination of an old-fashioned mountain fair and a showcase for Southern Appalachian music, arts, dance and song. Artisans sell local arts and crafts in booths lining the streets. Taking place each fall, visitors will find three stages of traditional, old time gospel and bluegrass music and dance with plenty of fiddles, banjos and clogging.
- Also known as one of the “Top 20 Southeast Arts Events,” by the Southeast Tourism Society, WNC Pottery Festival showcases the work of more than 43 master potters from 15 states displaying a variety of clay art styles along Dillsboro’s Front Street.
- Held each year as the leaves begin to change in this beautiful mountain village nestled at 3,487 feet in elevation, the Cashiers Valley Leaf Festival has grown tremendously since its inception in 2009. Along with spectacular leaf viewing, the Leaf Festival brings unique artisans, plenty of food, live music and entertainment to the area.
Why visit in the winter?
Along with festive holiday events and celebrations, lucky visitors can see snow fall across the mountains, making skiing or snow tubing a popular choice at Sapphire Valley. Winter is also the best time to fly fish in the home of the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail®, which maps out 15 prime spots to catch brown, rainbow and brook trout in the crystal-clear streams of the Great Smoky Mountains. During this time of year, visitors will experience a magical scene when the towns are decorated for the holidays. Storefronts light the way for shoppers looking for that perfect one-of-a-kind hand-crafted gift.
- Perhaps the most anticipated event of the year in Jackson County, Sapphire Valley’s Outhouse Races, takes place every February with people of all ages racing down a ski slope on a decorated outhouse built on skis.
- Lights and Luminaries takes place each holiday season when the entire town of Dillsboro transforms into a winter wonderland with 2,500 luminaries lighting up the town for visitors.
- The Hard Candy Christmas Show is an art show filled with more than 100 regional artisan vendors selling Christmas trees, crafts, holiday gifts and more. The show has everything from quilters to soap makers, basket makers and leather craftsmen to master jewelers.
- Winter is also the perfect time to participate in a nostalgic holiday tradition. Choose and cut a tree from one of the many farms throughout Jackson County to bring home. Due to the county’s location, range of elevations, excellent soil and rainfall, Jackson County is home to some of the fastest growing, picture-perfect Christmas trees.
Accommodations that range from downhome B&Bs to luxury resorts are readily available year-round. With an impressive restaurant and brewery scene, unique year-round festivals and events, and unlimited outdoor adventures, travelers will not be disappointed when visiting Jackson County, no matter what time of year.
A downloadable free Visitor’s Guide is available for a full listing of seasonal events, making it easier for visitors to plan their ideal getaway.