Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

Linville Caverns and Mount Mitchell, N.C.

Our trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway toward Gatlinburg, Tenn., led us to Linville Caverns and Mount Mitchell, both off of or near the parkway in western North Carolina.

Linville Caverns isn’t state owned, but is still a main tourist destination for the mountains.

Located in Marion, N.C., the business has a gift shop and gives guided tours inside Humpback Mountain. The caves were discovered by a local fisherman over a hundred years ago when he noticed trout swimming in and out of the bottom of the mountain. The stream flowed under the mountain and led to a cave with three levels. On level is completely submerged in water.

Guides share several local legends and tell you about the various rock formations. The cave is a constant 52 degrees, no matter the temperature outside, and water drips from the ceiling of the cave. So wear a jacket!

I’ve wanted to visit the Linville caverns and was excited for this stop on our trip. And I wasn’t disappointed. Although the tour was short (maybe 30 mins.), it was very informative and interesting. The price was reasonable – $12 for two adults. The business’ Web site lists $7. I don’t know if we got an off season discount or a discount because it was later in the day.

I don’t think I’d want to visit the caverns in the summer, however, because our guide said up to 9 tour groups may be touring at the same time. With just 5 groups walking through at the same time that day, we had to wait a few times for other groups to finish and move on or walk by us so we could continue the tour.

Next stop was Mount Mitchell, the tallest peak east of the Mississippi River at 6,578 feet. The park is 1,946 acres and boasts fantastic views.

Chris and I saw some nice views, but the observation deck was closed for renovations. So I don’t think we got to experience the whole affect.

Looking in one direction we could see the valley below. Turning to the other direction, we couldn’t see the valley due to smog. I wonder if the observation deck would have made any difference.

After snapping a few pictures and strolling around the small museum, we decided we had seen enough and climbed back into our car for the final leg to Asheville, N.C., where we would stay for the night.

But, the parkway was closed between the park and Asheville, so we had to turn around and drive 11 miles north to take a detour to Asheville. That added an extra half hour onto our trip, but at least I can now say I’ve been to the highest point in the eastern part of our country.

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