We all vacation in hopes to find a secret escape where we can experience our own little piece of paradise that is away from the large crowds. During the winter to early-spring months, the Western NC mountain towns of Jackson County, NC offer just that! Cashiers, Cherokee, Dillsboro and Sylva come alive during our ‘secret season’, offering visitors a wide array of hidden benefits to traveling during this less crowded and more affordable time of year.
Within driving distance of many of the Southeast’s biggest cities, Jackson County is full of activities for every kind of traveler, including winter hiking to frozen waterfalls, scenic drives through the rolling mountainsides, along with eclectic shopping, and award-winning dining. Winter – particularly midweek – is the ideal time to enjoy the best of winter travel without the crowds and the most affordable accommodations. Experience the warm side of winter by cozying up in a hot tub or enjoying clear views for miles along your favorite trails. In fact, the Blue Ridge Mountains shield us from harsh winter weather. Enjoy the beauty of crisp weather without getting stranded and relax with the downtime you deserve.
Your adventure awaits
When visiting Jackson County during the secret season, you’ll love being able to take advantage of front row “seats” at the prime scenic viewing spots, have the best photo backdrops all to yourself, or the grab the best seat in the house at the county’s most popular dining spots. Traveling during secret season provides visitors a chance to try the best eats in the county. Plus, with minimal to no wait, you can select the best seat in the house for the perfect secret season dining experience.
Another bonus? The potential of a snowy vacation. Unlike other mountain regions, Jackson County gets a mild average of about 9 inches of snow a year. If you’re lucky enough to time the trip perfectly with the weather’s wishes, you might experience a light snow fall. Other times, you may enjoy the snow or flurries from a distance. On many occasions, snow caps the mountaintops rather than the valley floor, providing a picturesque backdrop for your vacation photos without worrying about getting stuck.
Get more bang for your buck
A vacation to Jackson County during secret season means every dollar will go much further, or as we say, enjoy more ‘mountains for your money’. In fact, secret season boasts the best prices found in the area all season long. From January to March, visitors can enjoy the best accommodations in the North Carolina mountains at unbeatable prices. And, best of all, you’ll find a range of options to meet the needs of every group size and budget. We’ve assembled a secret season lodging specials page with all the best bargains.
Spot a bear, shadow that is…
Jackson County is home to one of the region’s most unique natural spectacles, and you have the opportunity to see it during secret season. More commonly known for its fall appearance, many don’t realize that the Shadow of the Bear actually comes out of hibernation twice a year! In mid-February, the Shadow of the Bear makes an appearance for just 30 minutes on sunny days at 5:30 p.m. and continues through early March. Since this is a lesser-known time to observe this natural phenomenon, onlookers will enjoy an unobstructed view as a small dark shadow at the bottom of the valley grows until it finally evolves into the awe-inspiring bear. Make sure to bring your camera to capture this spectacular view as the sun sets behind Whiteside Mountain.
Soak in the solitude
A visit to Jackson County during secret season allows visitors the chance to unplug and unwind from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life. Thanks to no traffic and peaceful surroundings, you’ll have your own mountain oasis.
Take this feeling a step further by embarking on a winter hike unlike any other. Discover unobstructed views of snowcapped mountains along the 7-mile Pinnacle Park Trail, which ascends more than 3,000 feet in elevation. Likewise, along the Panthertown Valley Trail, you’ll find picturesque winter scenes of frozen waterfalls, scenic trails and panoramic views in what is known as the “Yosemite of the East.” Enjoy the crisp, clean, and cool mountain air during our mild winters.
Pack your sweaters – and some savings
During secret season, you can choose from a number of packages and promotions to truly experience the most for the least, just one of the many ways visitors can benefit from a Jackson County getaway during secret season. Cozy up in a warm mountainside cabin and enjoy snowcapped peaks in the distance. Without the crowds, you’ll uncover the hidden magic and peaceful nature of the area, while discovering a winter wonderland full of possibilities.
Header image courtesy of @jared_kay