A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

[caption id="attachment_147392" align="alignnone" width="1140"] Photo Credit enabled[/caption] Roan Mountain An early morning hike into the clouds reveals a view that few North Carolinians see: a sunrise at more than 6,000

Madison County Championship Rodeo

[caption id="attachment_147392" align="alignnone" width="1140"] Photo Credit enabled[/caption] Roan Mountain An early morning hike into the clouds reveals a view that few North Carolinians see: a sunrise at more than 6,000

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

[caption id="attachment_147392" align="alignnone" width="1140"] Photo Credit enabled[/caption] Roan Mountain An early morning hike into the clouds reveals a view that few North Carolinians see: a sunrise at more than 6,000

Photo Essay/

Dawn’s Early Light

photograph by Justin Potter

Roan Mountain

An early morning hike into the clouds reveals a view that few North Carolinians see: a sunrise at more than 6,000 feet. Roan Mountain is not one peak but a long, towering ridge that rises along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. Known for its late spring rhododendron bloom, spruce-fir forests, and treeless, high-elevation meadows, or grassy balds, Roan takes on new beauty under a blanket of snow.

 


photograph by Neil Jernigan

Greene County

Snows come and go, but some images of life in the Old North State are indelible. “Red” Lyon’s country store, outside the eastern North Carolina town of Ormondsville, may be long-shuttered, but it still proudly advertises the simple pleasure of a Pepsi, just as it has for decades. Today, the building’s owners are seeing to it that the property will remain a reflection of the past for many winters to come.

 


photographs by Scott Hotaling

Hawksbill Mountain

When dawn arrives in the mountains, it stretches out its rosy fingers to touch the highest points of the Linville Gorge Wilderness, a federally protected area that some call “the Grand Canyon of the East.” From the craggy beak of Hawksbill Mountain, elevation 4,009 feet, hikers get a panoramic view of Pisgah National Forest — and the otherworldly grandeur of Linville Gorge in winter.

 


photograph by Dianne Sherrill

Blue Ridge Parkway

Nearly every vista along the Blue Ridge Parkway has something special to offer. First thing in the morning, it’s the east-facing overlooks that shine. At two popular sunrise-watching spots along the scenic byway — Thunder Hill Overlook in Blowing Rock and Tanbark Ridge Overlook in Asheville — visitors wait, coffee in hand, for day to break over the Blue Ridge.

 


photograph by @EPICDRONEIMAGES

Greensboro

In the Reedy Fork community in northern Greensboro, a winter morning softened by snow is still and quiet — but surely not for long. Soon, the joyful shouts and laughter of neighborhood kids will ring out from yards and parks across Guilford County. In the Piedmont, where snow is never a certainty, even a dusting is good reason to pull out the sled.

 


photograph by Mike O'Shell Photography

Nags Head

Jennette’s Pier is a place for all seasons: Open year-round, the 1,000-foot pier is a beloved backdrop for summer beachgoers, anglers in the spring and fall, and winter wanderers who stroll the quiet shores of Nags Head. And when a rare snow falls on the Outer Banks, Jennette’s Pier watches the dunes turn into mini snow-capped mountains that sparkle as the sun comes up over the horizon.

 


photograph by SKIP SICKLER/GRANDFATHER MOUNTAIN STEWARDSHIP FOUNDATION

Grandfather Mountain

On Linville Peak, the rising sun brings warmth and color to a frosty, windblown landscape. Along with the famed Mile High Swinging Bridge, Linville — one of four named peaks on Grandfather Mountain — offers some of the best views in the High Country. On a clear day, you can see the Charlotte skyline, some 80 miles in the distance.

 


photograph by Wes Snyder Photography

Roanoke Island

Never does the beacon atop Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse shine brighter than when it channels the splendor of a coastal sunrise. The red-roofed cottage — a replica of an 1877 lighthouse — stands 40 yards out into Shallowbag Bay, a familiar sight in downtown Manteo and a reminder of local maritime history. What it lacks in height, it more than makes up for in charm — especially when a light snow falls on Roanoke Island.

 


photograph by Scott Hotaling

Max Patch Mountain

One of the most iconic views along the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina is a mountaintop meadow called Max Patch. “Bald” but never barren, Max Patch is best known for wildflowers in the spring, grassy slopes in the summer, and views of bright foliage in the fall. Winter offers yet another perspective: In the soft glow of an Appalachian sunrise, even the coldest slopes radiate a warm welcome.

This story was published on Dec 21, 2021

Katie Saintsing

Saintsing is an associate editor at Our State magazine and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.