Incorporating Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Stone Mountain State Park, the North Carolina Mountains form a vast undulating landscape across the state. Snowy climbs, gushing cascades and stunning lakes decorate the terrain surrounding historic towns. Make a base in one of the traditional towns and peruse the arts and handicrafts in community galleries.
Visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian in the city of Cherokee, near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Learn about thousands of years of history before you trek north through the park. Among the highlights here are Mingo Falls, the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and Indian Creeks Falls.
Travel east to Stone Mountain State Park and marvel at the enormous granite dome at its center. Fish for lake trout and ride horses along the nature trails. Hikers who follow a loop trail are treated to a view of the restored mid 19th-century Hutchinson Homestead. Enjoy a picnic at one of the shelters in these majestic surroundings.
In the northwestern corner of North Carolina, hike to the top of Grandfather Mountain and cross a bridge at dizzying heights for unforgettable views of the Blue Ridge Mountains range. Part of the Appalachian Mountain range, these forest-covered peaks are named for the blue tint they appear to possess from a distance.
Ski down the slopes of Beech Mountain or Sugar Mountain in winter. Stay in the nearby town of Boone and explore its myriad museums. Try hiking and camping in the Asheville and the Foothills region, ensuring you visit Chimney Rock, Lake Lure and the Biltmore estate.
Most of the mountainous terrain runs across the western ridge of North Carolina, approaching the border with Tennessee. Drive west from Charlotte for 100 miles (160 kilometers) to reach the eastern part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in a couple of hours. Continue westward for Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The North Carolina Mountains dominate the western half of the state. Visit the area for fun outdoor activities and historic sites.