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FSP 2008 Sponsored Project

North Carolina State Parks Tours

The Northwest Park Loop - Northwest Mountains and Rivers


View NC State Park Tour NW in a larger map 
Grandfather Mountain State Park - Elk Knob State Park – Mount Jefferson State Natural Area – New River State Park – Stone Mountain State Park – Blue Ridge Parkway
This tour focuses on the northwestern corner of the state and loops by famous mountain tops, one of the oldest rivers in the country, National Nature Landmarks, and the famous scenic vistas of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
You can join the tour at any point but we'll begin near the intersection of the US 221 and Blue Ridge Highway just north of Linville at a grand old favorite and the states newest state park - Grandfather MountainIn 2008 an agreement was reached to preserve the park and the land surrounding it for future generations. The hanging bridge, wildlife habitats, and alpine hiking trails are still run by the Morton family but the land around it is now preserved for generations. Go for more information.

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Grandfather Mt
Elk Knob Plan on a hours driving time to head north on US 221 to US 421 N and then NC-194 passing through the tourist towns of Blowing Rock and Boone to reach another recent park Elk Knob State Park. A unique natural wonderland based on its “sweet soil” (amphibolite). Hike the rocky road to the top to catch a view of three states and peaks from Mt Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain, to Mount Rodgers. Come on a trail day ( to help them build a new easy going switchback trail up the mountain.

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Continue north to Hwy 88 until you reach Jefferson, take US 221 S and then end this hour long scenic drive by driving to the top of Mountain Jefferson State Natural Area. Mount Jefferson rises abruptly to more than 1,600 feet above the surrounding landscape, serving as a landmark for area motorists. The park's large variety of unusual plants qualified the area for designation as a national natural landmark by the National Park Service in 1975 

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Mt Jefferson
New River Follow US 221 N for a half hour to the main site of New River State Park at Scottville. Enjoy the old-fashioned charm of the New River area with its winding mountain roads, small farms, churches, and country stores. The tranquil river itself is believed to be one of the oldest in the country and offers good bass fishing, trout streams, excellent birding, inspiring mountain scenery, and a peaceful canoe trip on its slow-moving waters. Stop at the visitor center and sign any kids up for the Friends of State Parks sponsored Junior Ranger program.

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Continue on US 221 N to US 21 S for 40 minutes to reachStone Mountain State Park. Designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1975 for its 600-foot granite dome it also has wonderful fields, forests, waterfalls, and historical stills and churches. You can hike a moderate path up the back to the top of the dome, a more strenuous trail up and around mountain, or rock climb up the sheer cliff face. Note you must register to rock climb but you don't have to register to watch others.

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Stone Mountain

Blue Ridge Parkway

Return to Grandfather Mountain by heading up US 221 N to the world famous Blue Ridge Highway( at entrance 230. On this 3 hour relaxing stretch you can see the tops of Stone Mountain, Mt Jefferson, and Grandfather Mountain. Stop at one of the many camping, hiking, or scenic overviews spots. Check out the Northwest Trading Post or the Moses Cone Estate for local crafts and the engineering marvel of the Linn Cove Viaduct. Just south of Grandfather Mountain is scenic Linville Falls. Take Exit 305 of the Blue Ridge and follow US 221 S to reach Grandfather Mountain.

Some of major towns near the route where you can find lodgings and food include Boone, Blowing Rock, Jefferson, West Jefferson, Sparta, and Banner Elk. You can easily use one of these as your home base and enjoy each of the parks during your stay. You can also check out the area for historical sites, golf courses, craft shops, and outdoor sports.

Detailed text Directions

Park Links
Grandfather Mountain

Elk Knob

Mt Jefferson

New River

Stone Mountain

Want to Camp!

Camp at a State Park–  call 1-877-7-CAMP-NC or

Other Places of Interest
Blue Ridge Music Center 

 Doughton Park

Northwest Trading Post

Moses Cone Park and Craft Center 

Julian Price Park 

Linn Cove Viaduct 

Linville Falls 

Museum of North Carolina Minerals

Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation 

Commercial Sites for Lodging, Dining, Supplies, and Recreation

Mount Airy (aka Mayberry) 


Blowing Rock 

Blue Ridge Parkway Association

For more information on North Carolina State Parks we recommend ourNorth Carolina State Parks Map Guide

North Carolina State Parks Map Guide
A planning and traveling companion with detailed maps and information on each park

Blog - coming soon 

Copyright © 2009 by Friends of State Parks

Photo of Grandfather Mountain © 2009 Jane Best others © 2009 Bob Sowa.

Your membership and the 501c Non Profit status of Friends of State Parks support this program. 
Support and Enjoy Your State Parks

Friends of State Parks, Inc.

PO Box 37655

Raleigh, NC  27627

Friends of State Parks, Inc. is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization (tax identification number 58-1634155) under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.

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