- 35 miles (56 km)
- 1.25 hours
Imagine a silvery ribbon of water looping around the forested Stone Mountains. This is just one of the sights you'll encounter on the New River Valley Scenic Byway, just one of the many state byways that will take you into the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The byway is named for the New River, which is the oldest river in the country and second oldest in the world (the Nile is estimated to be the oldest).
Paralleling the Blue Ridge Parkway for a time, the New River Valley Byway, provides a new perspective to some favorite familiar territory. As the road winds from Boone to Laurel Springs,travelers drive "the Old Buffalo Trail" on NC 194. Visitors will also pass the largest concentration of Christmas Tree farms in the country. So during the holidays, you may have a piece of the New River Valley Byway in your living room.
Points of Interest
Points of Interest Along The Way
Blowing Rock (NC)
Blowing Rock is a historic community on the Blue Ridge Parkway with a perfect location for traveling the Byway and stopping at the sites. The town of Blowing Rock offers all services to visitors and is a place that has captured all the atmosphere and romance of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
This community on the Blue Ridge Parkway is named for a nearby geological formation known as Blowing Rock. Such a formation is not without a story. The legend tells of a Chikasaw Indian princess who met an Indian brave from the plains on the edge of the rock. They spent many days together in the woodland mountains of the area until one day a strange reddening sky appeared as a bad omen to the brave. Torn from having to choose between his true love and returning to the plains, he jumped off the Blowing Rock into the woodlands below. The maiden prayed daily to the Great Spirit until another evening came with a red sky. This time, a mighty gust of wind blew her lover back to the Rock where she was waiting for him. Since then, the wind continually blows upward from the valley below to the top of Blowing Rock. The wind is so strong that sometimes, the snow even seems to fall upside down.
Just south of Boone, North Carolina.
Visit the "Firefly Capital of the World" where Daniel Boone once camped. Appalachian State University is located in Boone as well as several other points of interest. Make sure you take time to explore the Appalachian Cultural Museum. Or drive to Hickory Ridge Homestead where exhibits will open your eyes to life in an 18th Century log house.
Boone is a mountain town right in the middle of some of North Carolina's most beautiful natural wonders. Near to ski resorts and several North Carolina byways, Boone is a natural stop for travelers.
At the beginning of the New River Valley Byway on NC 194.
Doughton Park (NC)
Doughton Park is a landscape of open meadows and pioneer cabins, a place to view wildlife and get a feel for the lives of those who lived here long ago. Originally known as the Bluffs, this area came by its present name in honor of Congressman Robert L. Doughton, a long-time advocate and supporter of the Parkway. Doughton Park is one of the best places along the motor road to view white-tailed deer, raccoons, red and grey foxes, and bobcats, as well as spectacular shows of flame azalea and rhododendron in the late spring.
Just east of the byway, Doughton Park is an easy stop to make while driving in the area.
Grandfather Mountain (NC)
Grandfather Mountain is one of the most environmentally significant mountains in the world. It is set apart by the U.N. as an International Biosphere Reserve, a place where man and nature thrive in harmony. Only 324 biospheres exist and this mountain is the only one that is privately owned. There are 47 rare and endangered species located in the area.
No matter the season, Grandfather never fails to stir the soul with its ancient black cliffs, laddered trails, and astonishing views. The pinks of its rare Azalea Vaseyi and reds of its rhododendron are as celebrated as gospel singing in June and Scottish gatherings in July. Even its weather - its beautiful mists and winter icicle days - add to the mystique of the mountain.
Southwest of the byway on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Hickory Ridge Homestead (NC)
This living history homestead is located in Boone, North Carolina.
Located in Boone, NC
Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area (NC)
You can get a glimpse of it from the Blue Ridge Parkway, but Mount Jefferson is even better up close. This State Natural Area includes hiking trails and picnic grounds to accommodate visitors who want to explore the forest of Mount Jefferson.
Once known as "Panther Mountain" the mountain was renamed to honor Thomas Jefferson after the revolution. Colonial stories tell of a child who was attacked on the mountain by a panther in earlier days. You won't see panthers on Mount Jefferson today, but the area is still thriving with both plants and animals.
Since 1975, Mount Jefferson has been nationally recognized for the multiple species of plants that live there. The chestnut trees found in the area are rare. And the red-tailed hawk makes the mountain its home. From forests of trees to fields of wildflowers,Mount Jefferson is a place where nature flourishes.
Just outside of Jefferson, this state park is on the byway.
New River State Park (NC)
Ironically, the New River is actually the oldest river in North America. Its placid waters now flow gently through forests and hills of the Appalachians providing a place to fish, camp, and unwind for North Carolina residents and weary travelers. The scenery that surrounds the river is as diverse as the creatures that live there. Cliffs and mountain sides keep the homes of the hawk safe. When the river passes by wetlands, bullfrogs and salamanders can be spotted.
People inhabited the shores of the New River for thousands of years. The river still remains elusive in some areas that are not accessible by road. Archaeological exploration in the area have yielded arrowheads and pottery shards, but no ancient settlements have been found. Making a trip to the shores of the New River will connect travelers with nature and the past of humankind.
Located off of NC 88 between Jefferson and Laurel Springs.
Stone Mountain State Park (NC)
Named for a 600 foot granite dome, Stone Mountain State Park is home to a beautiful mountain as well as rivers for trout fishing and forests for camping. Rock climbing and hiking on Stone Mountain offer opportunities to explore the natural qualities of this state park.
At the park's Mountain Culture Exhibit, visitors view a little of North Carolina's Appalachian history. The earliest mountain settlers used many of the items displayed here to survive. The Hutchinson Homestead is another historic exhibit within the park that displays an old time log cabin, barn, blacksmith shop,corncrib, and meant house. And be sure to visit one of the original churches in the county, the Garden Creek Baptist Church.
Southeast of the byway, this state park might be a stop while driving the New River or the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Tweetsie Railroad (NC)
Centered around old west railroading, this was North Carolina's first theme park. The Tweetsie Railroad takes visitors on a ride through the captivating mountains of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Rides and entertainment are only the beginning.
Just south of the byway.