River House is in the northwestern corner of North Carolina in Ashe County near Virginia and Tennessee, along the beautiful New River. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, we are close to the Blue Ridge Parkway and an easy drive to so much to see and do!
Blue Ridge Parkway: We are a 20 minute drive from "America's favorite drive". A drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway is meant to be slow paced and relaxing. A stop at almost any overlook or trail will reveal much of the natural and cultural history here. The Parkway meanders 469 miles between Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks.
Nearby on the Blue Ridge Parkway is Doughton Park, featuring open meadows, 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. Hiking opportunities range from a short hike at Fodder Stack Trail to the strenuous 7.5 mile Bluff Mountain Trail. Visit the Brinegar Cabin to see craft demonstrations or hike into Basin Cove to view the Caudill Family Homestead. The Northwest Trading Post at Milepost 258 has a wide variety of craft items and souvenirs for sale from this part of North Carolina.
Grayson Highlands State Park: Just across the Virginia state line is some amazing hiking. This park is the neighbor to Mount Rogers National Recreation Area (NRA) and provides one of the easiest access points for a hike to Virginia's highest peak. The road into Grayson takes hikers to a parking lot at Massie Gap that's 4,200 feet above sea level—a good running start at the 5,729-foot peak of Mount Rogers. But this windswept, often fog-shrouded piece of the Blue Ridge Highlands is far more than just an entrance to the federal recreation area. The 4,935-acre Grayson Highlands State Park showcases the natural beauty of waterfalls, spruce-fir forests, igneous rock outcroppings, native trout streams, rugged mountains, and high alpine meadows with panoramic vistas of valleys below. A community of hardy wildflowers, shrubs, birds, amphibians, and wild ponies that can withstand the harsh conditions of the open highlands have adapted to life in the alpine meadows.
Virginia Creeper Trail: This is a biking adventure that you and your friends will talk about for a long time. The Virginia Creeper Trail stretches 35 miles from Abingdon Virginia thru Damascus Virginia to the NC State Line near Whitetop Virginia. The Virginia Creeper Trail is open to hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The former rail bed passes through the back country of Southwest Virginia. The Virginia Creeper Trail is rich in beauty and regional history. If you don't bring your bike, rent one from Creeper Trail Bike Rental.
Christmas Tree Farms: Ashe County's Christmas tree industry boasts over 9.8 million trees, making Ashe County the largest producer in North Carolina and second in the nation. An Ashe County Christmas tree was selected to serve as the official White House Christmas Tree by President George W. Bush. Indeed, it is a common sight after Thanksgiving to see cars, SUVs, and minivans from North Carolina's cities traveling from Ashe County with a freshly-cut Christmas tree tied to the top of the vehicle. Come up, choose and cut your tree this holiday season.
The Christmas in July Festival (first weekend of July) is a free two-day summer celebration featuring entertainment, handmade arts and crafts, children’s activities, and a variety of wonderful foods. The festival is located in downtown West Jefferson, in the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area in northwestern North Carolina. Thousands of visitors experience and purchase a wide variety of art and crafts from Festival exhibitors.
Visit the area artist studios: Craven Studios is world renowned for its handbuilt porcelain dinnerware, wall sculptures, bowls and vases. For over twenty five years, Rob and Beth Mangum have been creating and producing hand crafted pottery and ceramic sculpture. Also check out Kosinski Watercolors & Oil Paintings of Jerusalem, the Holy Land & the Blue Ridge Mountains
Downtown West Jefferson: Go to this quaint downtown to discover some great art! Acorn Gallery has originals and limited edition reproductions by Raney Rogers, one of North Carolina's most well-known artists. The Ashe County Arts Council has changing exhibits and a gallery shop (also ask them about their Barn Quilt Tour). Originals Only Gallery has original works of art by one of Ashe County's favorite artists, Joan Stiles Bell, and fine handcrafted wood furniture by Tom Sternal. R T Morgan Art & Glass By Camille. has sculpture and paintings by internationally known artist R.T. Morgan and stained glass by regionally known artist Camille Morgan. West Jefferson's downtown area hosts several murals that create a "walking tour." The murals are the works of local artists and others in North Carolina that depict the area's history and unique character. Stop at the Ashe County Cheese Store, offering more than 50 varieties of cheese, gifts, souvenirs, snacks, plus our own Ashe County Cheese, Country Butter, and fresh cheese curd.
New River State Park: Rugged hillsides, pastoral meadows and bucolic farmlands surround what is believed to be one of the oldest rivers in North America — the New River. Its waters are slow and placid. Its banks are fertile and covered with wildflowers. Dedicated as a National Scenic River in 1976, this gentle river is the centerpiece of New River State Park. Three areas with access to this waterway make up more than 1,500 acres of New River State Park and provide spots for camping, canoeing, hiking, picnicking and fishing.
Outfitters for the New River: For canoe, kayak and tube trips, see New River Outfitters or Riverside Canoe and Tube Rentals.
(By the way, the National Committee for the New River works to protect the New River is ongoing and multifaceted.)
Wineries: At Thistle Meadow Winery, Proprietor Tom Burgiss makes your visit a top priority and often conducts the wonderful 1-hour wine-tasting event himself and also includes a tour of the winery.
Mt. Jefferson State Natural Area: Drive to the top and take a short hike for some great views. Mount Jefferson rises abruptly to more than 1,600 feet above the surrounding landscape, serving as a landmark for area motorists. On a clear day, you can see for miles from its peak. The picnic area is located in a beautiful wooded location near the summit of Mount Jefferson.
There are plenty of country roads for great bicycling. The local favorite is biking the Railroad Grade Road for 10 miles from Todd to Fleetwood. It's a paved local access road built on section of abandoned Virginia-Carolina Railroad along South Fork of New River. If you want a guided ride in the mountains, contact Carolina Tailwinds.
A walk around Bluff Mountain Preserve offers scenic beauty, unusual landforms, and amazing botanical variety. Although relatively small in size, Bluff is one of the most ecologically significant natural areas in the Southeast. Hiking on Bluff, in just a few dozen steps you can walk from a Carolina hemlock forest to a dwarf red oak/white oak forest to a rare flat rock plant community. A broad, high plateau containing an unusual wetland, a southern Appalachian fen, adds to Bluff’s unique character. Guide hikes by appointment only (336-385-6507).
Todd, NC, is in the southern part of the county and is a redeveloping area best known for its Friday night bluegrass and Celtic music jam sessions, held year-round. Area musicians gather around the old-fashioned pot-bellied stove in the Todd General Store on Friday nights to pick and grin, and folks from all over the country have been known to drop in.
Glendale Springs is home to one of the county’s two Churches of the Frescoes. Painted by world-renowned artist Ben Long, the artwork beautifully integrates with the century-old Episcopal chapel and grounds surrounding it.
At Old Orchard Creek Farm you’ll find rows and rows of high bush blueberries laden with giant, sweet fruit just waiting for you to pluck them off their branches. Bring a picnic and enjoy the sights of the farm.
Stone Mountain State Park: Stone Mountain is not immediately visible upon entering the park that bears its name, but this magnificent 600-foot granite dome is well worth the wait. Sunlight and shadows dance across a broad tapestry of stone. White-tailed deer emerge from the security of the forest to graze on meadow grasses at the mountain's base. They have 16 miles of trails to hike. The Stone Mountain Loop Trail first leads hikers .75 miles to the summit of Stone Mountain then continues 1.25 miles to the top of impressive Stone Mountain Falls. From the falls, the trail leads two miles to the meadow at the base of Stone Mountain and back to the trailhead.
Burnt Hill Stables offers miles of guided scenic mountain trails for horseback riding and back roads to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. They have horses for all skill levels with one and two hour rides.
Mountain Aire Golf Club: Located in West Jefferson and nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge, Mountain Aire is an established, public course offering 18 holes of well-maintained fairways, complimented by the natural, rugged beauty of the Appalachians.
Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in the North Carolina mountains, Blowing Rock is a storybook village filled with upscale shops. It's also home to Appalachian Ski Mountain.
The largest town in the area is Boone, home to Appalachian State University and many attractions.
Held on the third Saturday in June‚ at Grayson Highlands State Park in Mouth of Wilson, VA., the Wayne C. Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition features some of the region’s best traditional musicians. From time to time, they have shared the stage with bluegrass bands from Europe.
MerleFest is an annual Americana music festival held in Wilkesboro, North Carolina at Wilkes Community College at the end of April. The festival was conceived by the late legendary guitar player Doc Watson and is named for his son, Eddy Merle Watson, who died in a farming accident in 1985. The four-day-long festival was founded in 1988 and now attracts more than 85,000 participants, making it the largest folk music festival in the United States.
Grandfather Mountain Highland Games features brawny athletes, delicate dancers, noisy bagpipe band parades, rocking Celtic music and a spectacular highland setting makes this colorful celebration of Scottish culture the best highland games in America. Over one hundred Scottish clans and societies sponsor this celebration of Scottish dance, music and athletics.
For more about our area, visit the Ashe County Chamber of Commerce. Stop by the Visitor Center in downtown West Jefferson. Ask about the High Country Back Roads Tour, a driving tour accompanied by a downloadable CD and map that can direct you to many hidden treasures in the county.
During the month of July, Appalachian State University transforms Boone into one of the best places to find world-class arts and entertainment at the Appalachian Summer Festival with dozens of concerts, theatre events and art events.