Those ever-changing – slow and determined – annual seasons keep churning away, as if to manufacture in us some unearthly quality. Each seasonal change brings us into another of life’s many phases. But amid the cosmic choreography of spring, summer and autumn, winter looms most ominously– seemingly the most dire and poignant of them all.
We at The Park on Main®, the luxury, pet-friendly hotel in Highlands, North Carolina, embrace the winter; in fact, we pose the inevitable question: What are some winter activities in Highlands, NC for those robust folks looking to clutch this majestic experience? William Blake, the English poet, rightly captured winter’s essence: “In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.”
It begins at 11:48 p.m., Dec. 21. Temperatures atop the Southern Appalachian Mountain range in Western North Carolina – specifically, in our happy hamlet of Highlands – descend into the lower 40s. Nighttime lows reach the mid 20s. The record low was 5 below. (The record high was 65.)
North Carolina is considered a Southern state, yet its blustery winters are reminiscent of the North. That’s because the altitude of Highlands is 4,100 feet above sea level. That elevation leads to cooler summers and winters, abundant rainfall (87 inches annually), but that also means comparatively little snowfall (12 inches).
Highlands is a splendid mixture of geography and climate, staking claim to the best of all worlds: the easy winters of the South’s upper regions, the North’s mild summers and the artistic seclusion of the Appalachian range.
Nonetheless, winter makes its stunning appearance, painting the rolling landscape in a scanty coat of brazen white. Forecasters predict the first snowfall (two inches) this month. January typically gets four inches. By the end of April, six more inches fall. 6:44 p.m., March 20. It’s over. Winter is gone.
As the new season prepares to awaken, set sail for The Park on Main®. Book your suite today to experience winter’s shy mystery. Here is winter in Highlands:
- Dry Fall’s paved walkways will take your breath away as you stroll beneath a 75-foot waterfall. It is northwest of Highlands in the Nantahala National Forest.
- Whiteside Mountain is for the stout of heart. This provides views of some of the highest cliffs in the eastern United States. Cliffs rise 2,100 feet to a 4,930-feet summit. It is five miles east of Highlands on U.S. Highway 64.
- Glen Falls’ two-mile walk showcases three waterfalls. The trail begins easy and heads to the East Fork Overflow Creek. Visitors rave about the great views. It is two miles west of Highlands on State Road 106.
- Cullasaja River Gorge gives visitors to the Highlands’ winter grand views of the mountain ranges and rolling landscapes. It is five miles east of Dry Falls on U.S. Highway 64.
- Visible from the highway, the 120-foot Bridal Veil Falls waterfall sometimes paints an afternoon rainbow. But stubborn winter cold has occasionally frozen the falls. It is northwest of Highlands in the Nantahala National Forest. At 45 feet in height, it is the only waterfall in North Carolina with room to drive a car under.
- Highlands’ locals call Quarry Falls, west of U.S. Highway 64, “Bust-Your-Bust Falls.” Known for a large, deep pool at its bottom, the falls is a popular swimming spot – in the spring and summer.
- Looking Glass Falls, north on U.S. Highway 276, might be the most spectacular waterfall in the area. It is 60 feet.
Go indoors for some temporary solace:
- The Bascom Art Center rests upon a mountain plateau and offers visitors exhibitions, studio art instruction and other culture-based presentations. It has six buildings on six acres.
- The Mountaintop Wine Shoppe has more than 600 wines and sells 50 wines “by the glass.” Cheese, meat and dessert plates are also available. Wine station machines allow you to taste up to 16 wines. Take it easy in front lawn seating in the fire pit area.
Highlands’ Main Street and downtown area are known for their diverse and very cultured shops and boutiques, including antique shops, art galleries, fine clothing stores and jewelry shops. Many of the shops remain open during the winter months. Read more about the highlights of Highlands.
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