Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Banner Elk is a charming town near North Carolina’s border with Tennessee. It lies along the Elk River and was once a hunting and fishing ground for the Cherokee. In 1848, a permanent settlement was established here by the Banner family from Wales.
Things to do in Banner Elk
Occupying the 1860s-built home of Samuel Henry Banner is the Banner House Museum, which has been furnished as it would have appeared during his residence. In addition to period artwork, hand-stitched quilts and vintage costumes, there are antique farm tools and old photographs on display. Seasonal events take place at the historic home.
South-east of Banner Elk is Grandfather Mountain, where you’ll find rugged hiking trails and the Wilson Center for Nature Discovery. Learn about the native flora and fauna of the area while exploring the interactive displays before getting up close to cougars, black bears and river otters in the Wildlife Habitats. Don’t miss the Mile High Swinging Bridge, where you can see all the way to Charlotte on a clear day.
If you’re visiting in the winter months, hit the downhill runs of Sugar Mountain Resort, which boasts the largest vertical drop in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, you can go tubing, snowshoeing and ice skating. Drive in the other direction from Banner Elk and you’ll arrive at Beech Mountain Resort, which offers winter skiing and summer mountain biking trails.
Getting around Banner Elk
Banner Elk is just over an hour’s drive from the Tri-Cities Regional Airport, which has flights to destinations across the United States. Renting a car is the most convenient way of getting to Banner Elk and the town is small enough to explore on foot.