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PLanning a mountain Christmas - need some advice

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Akron, Ohio
14 posts
PLanning a mountain Christmas - need some advice

My parents, my husband and I and our dogs (5 between the 2 households) are thinking about a Mountain Christmas. We have not spent much time in the area. Did a weekend in PIgeon Forge almost 20 years ago - but that's it. I'm really not familiar with the best areas. Someone recommended the Blowing Rock and Boone areas to us. Said it was a much nicer area than Pigeon Forge (less honkey-tonk touristy). We are driving from Ohio.

What kind of weather would we expect at Christmas? If we rent a cabin in the mountains - will we run the risk of being snowed in? We get a lot of snow in Ohio - so we are used to that - but not sure what driving is like there in that area. One of the cabins I am looking at is in the Watauga Lake area - they say it's a 30 minute drive from Blowing Rock.

Are there any other places we should look? We would like to go sight see, hike some (gentle hiking) - any other sites in the area or things that are a "must do". Appreciate any advice...

Charlotte, North...
Destination Expert
for North Carolina
Level Contributor
2,761 posts
30 reviews
1. Re: PLanning a mountain Christmas - need some advice

Well the good news is yes, it is a MUCH better, nicer area than Pigeon Forge. (I cringe when I go through Pigeon Forge.) But as for the type weather you can expect and what outdoor activities you'll be able to enjoy in the Boone/Blowing Rock/Banner Elk area over Christmas, it's impossible to tell until about a week out. It can be cool, crisp and sunny and if that's the case, you'll find hundreds of wonderful hiking trails in the area for all levels of hikers. Although many things have limited hours during winter months, there are lots of nice sight-seeing opportunities throughout the area....What type things most interest you?...arts?, history?, shopping?, dining?

Weather in the area can also be bitterly cold with ice and snow.....from a few inches to a few feet. FYI, the northern NC mountains' climate is like New England....so you find more snow and colder temperatures much more like New Hampshire, Vermont, etc. than the rest of the South.

Snow skiing is big business in the area, and to be honest, most tourists to the Northern NC mountains during winter months come for skiing, snowboarding, tubing etc, especially over Christmas holidays. To keep the tourists coming, they do a good job keeping the highways and main roads to/from the ski resorts/towns clear if at all possible.

...As for Watauga Lake, it's in Tennessee, away from the vacation "hub" of Boone/Blowing Rock/Banner Elk. I don't know exactly where the cabin is in relation to the lake, but 30 minutes drive to Blowing Rock, sounds impossible to me. You could possibly get to Boone in 30 minutes...could be more, but Blowing Rock would be more likely 45 minutes to an hour. It's nice to be near the lake in the summer, however it's away from restaurants, shops, activities that most vacationers are looking for; I wouldn't want to be out there during winter months....especially in the snow.

I would choose accommodations in or nearer Boone/Blowing Rock/Banner Elk, and if a cabin, I would find out what type road (dirt?, gravel?, paved?) and if, or how often it gets plowed during snow storms. I have a friend who has a cabin about 20 minutes outside of Boone (near the Tennessee state line)and they often have to park on the side of a main road and walk close to a mile to get to their cabin during the winter months.

If you are looking for NC mountains with weather similar to Pigeon Forge, you may want to look at the Asheville, NC area in the Southern NC mountains. Lots of sight-seeing,(no honkey-tonking) hiking, etc. and an over-all milder climate than Boone/Blowing Rock/Banner Elk...although Asheville does get nice snow storms from time to time.

Take a look at monthly weather averages(temperatures and precipitation) on Weather.com for Boone NC and also Asheville, NC and also check out a few Boone/Blowing Rock/Banner Elk tourist websites...... http://highcountryhost.com/ http://www.blowingrock.com/ http://www.visitboone.com/ http://www.bannerelk.org/ .....Also Asheville area websites... http://www.romanticasheville.com/ http://www.exploreasheville.com/

Let us know which area you pick and we'll be happy to give more detailed suggestions.

Best Wishes!

Apex, North Carolina
Level Contributor
50 posts
182 reviews
2. Re: PLanning a mountain Christmas - need some advice

NC mountain weather can be deceptive in Dec. It can be in the 60's or in the 30's but even in the mountains it is likely to snow enough to be snowed in.

First of all go to www.blowingrock.com and get one of their guides.

You will certainly want to visit the Blowing Rock as well as Grandfather Mountain. Sugar Mountain Ski Resort is nearby and if you don't ski they have intertubing which is a blast. The Linville Caverns are also incredible. I also love the Blowing Rock art and history museum.

There a couple of waterfalls to hike to and you can go to www.cwaterfalls.com for info an directions.

Canyons Restaurant on highway 321 is fantastic place to dine with a stunning view. www.canyonsbr.com. I also am a big fan of the Mellow Mushroom restaurants and they have a Blowing Rock location www.mellowmushroom.com.

The Mast General Store is also a great place for shopping..www.mastgeneralstore.com

Hope that helps.

Chapel Hill, North...
Level Contributor
4,587 posts
16 reviews
3. Re: PLanning a mountain Christmas - need some advice

You might enjoy going to Biltmore at Christmas in Asheville. They really do it up. Couldn't take the dogs, but you might be able to leave them in your cabin depending on the dogs and the cabin.


Akron, Ohio
14 posts
4. Re: PLanning a mountain Christmas - need some advice

Thank you all so much for the feedback. After reading through this - I think it may be better if we focus closer to the Asheville area. Being stuck and not able to drive into the cabin will be an issue with my folks and 5 dogs :) Thank you so much

Charlotte, North...
Destination Expert
for North Carolina
Level Contributor
2,761 posts
30 reviews
5. Re: PLanning a mountain Christmas - need some advice

Overall, I prefer the Boone/Blowing Rock area to the Asheville area, but think if you all are not interested in winter sports, the Asheville area will have more to offer you that time of year....a visit to the Biltmore Estate all decorated for Christmas is a wonderful treat!

Just FYI to anyone reading this, there are plenty of condos, homes, cabins and of course hotels in the Boone/Blowing Rock/Banner Elk area that you would rarely have difficultly getting to/from during snow storms. Many homes/cabins/condos in the area have wide paved roads which are kept in good condition except during the most extreme storms....but there are also homes/cabins that are up or down narrow dirt or gravel roads, way off main roads....these would be problems during snow storms. Ask questions and choose wisely.

pookiehansen, I would also highly recommend you also ask the same questions for cabins/homes in the Asheville area.....you never know when that area will get a big snow storm. Better safe than sorry! :)

North Carolina
Level Contributor
1,488 posts
24 reviews
6. Re: PLanning a mountain Christmas - need some advice

I would worry about finding a rental that would allow five dogs.

Level Contributor
1,302 posts
69 reviews
7. Re: PLanning a mountain Christmas - need some advice

Jiminnc is right. Most rental homes won't even take three dogs, much less *five* dogs.

8. Re: PLanning a mountain Christmas - need some advice

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