Candler, North Carolina (high 72, low 54)
On Thursday, we started our day on the Blue Ridge Parkway, at a Visitor center, and after a short visit there, a few miles further was the Folk Art Center. Local artists sell their wares, and there were some beautiful items for sale. There was a gorgeous quilt on display, but unfortunately they didn’t allow photos. One man was there making the nicest little whisk brooms. They were really well made and I appreciated the fact that he made them by hand, but I decided not to pay $20 for a whisk broom. It was a wonderful place to see local hand made crafts, but we left without buying any of the treasures. One thing about living in a motor home, is it keeps you from buying more “stuff.”
Some parts of the Blue Ridge have more visitor centers and places to stop, but many areas have only scenic over looks. Restroom facilities need to be visited when you find one, because you might not find one for quite a while. This part of the parkway had a lot of visitor centers in one area, so stopped at them all, not wanting to miss anything. After our first few trips on the Parkway, we broke down and bought a $10 map. There are a lot of free ones, but they don’t give you the mile markers, any of the roads to exit the parkway, or all the special places along the road. It was a good investment and one I’d recommend. It’s nice to know the quickest way to exit the parkway. Just a reminder…don’t exit on Highway 151, unless you’re real brave! One more reminder, is start with a full tank of gas.
I wrote about our stop at Craggy Gardens Overlook in the last post. After we left there, we headed towards Mount Mitchell State Park, which wasn’t too far.
You have to leave the Parkway and head up the mountain to get to the park. I was worried that the road up would be a narrow, scary, gravel road, but it wasn’t. It was actually a very good road….except when we saw the 40 foot diesel pusher coming back down.
We started the ascent at over 6000 feet elevation. That was the highest we’ve even been at that point!
Not long after beginning our ascent up to the park, we started to notice the wonderful, sweet fragrance of the Red Spruce and Frazier Fir trees. They are the most beautiful trees.
I wish I could bottle the wonderful fragrance.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason the forest is dying. Some are saying it is air pollution and acid rain from the factories in the state. Others are saying it is a little insect called the Balsom Wooly Adelgid. Many of the larger trees have died and it’s truly a shame because in my opinion, this is one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever seen. They have been spraying some sort of horticultural oil on the trees and we saw a lot of younger trees, so maybe that’s a good sign.
Oh….the fragrance.….try to imagine!
Aren’t these the most beautiful trees?
This is not your normal state park. The highlight seems to be the scenic overlook. There is a restaurant and a snack bar, and 9 tent camping sites, but no rv sites. Not sure I’d want to take our motorhome up the mountain anyway.
There was a sign saying “fee area” ahead, but we never found a place to pay or any type of gate.
We parked the truck and then walked the steep path up to the scenic overlook.
In the picture below in the upper center, you can see some of the dead trees…..but this area was particularly fragrant, and while I was gasping for air, I was enjoying the sweet smell.
Since we started this uphill climb at over 6000 feet elevation, we could really feel it. There were benches placed all along the path.
We finally made it to the top. This will be the highest point we will be until we head west.
The view from the overlook was spectacular, but like any area that’s so large, it’s very hard to capture it on “film.”
The dark areas were from the clouds above.
It was a little cool up there.
You could see for miles in all directions and it was all gorgeous. North Carolina is truly a beautiful state.
We reluctantly left the overlook and walked back down the trail to the parking lot. I took a few minutes to try to burn that memory into my brain…. the sights and smells. I think I will need to go back there again before we leave though, just to be sure I can pull up that memory whenever I want to.
Despite all the dead trees, it’s still a magnificent place and one well worth the trip.
When we left, as usual, we were nearing the end of the day, we were in the middle of the Blue Ridge Parkway, not near the road off of the parkway, so we decided we’d better head home.
I think this was the best day we’ve had since we’ve been in North Carolina. Craggy Gardens and Mount Mitchell….what a day.