Banner Elk NC
Hub of the Blue Ridge Mountains
Nestled in a wide valley between two of the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge mountain range, Banner Elk NC in Avery County is the hub of a vacation destination to which many a lowlander are drawn, seeking summer refuge from stifling summer heat, and trading cold rainy winters for snow bound fun on the slopes.
In the middle of an area Peppered with vacation homes, communities, and resorts, Banner Elk NC has become a cultural and recreational center of activity. You’ll find all kinds of cultural and sporting events at Lees-McRae College in the town of Banner Elk. Yes, Banner Elk is a college town, with all the ameneties that come with that. To find out whats happening at Lees-McRae, vist our LMC News Feed for the latest in press releases and events.
The Legend of Banner's Elk
In the year of 1840, Martin Luther Banner - a man of Welch descent - first saw the area now known as Banner Elk in the valley of Elk Creek in the heart of the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina. He was just passing through on the way to Nashville when he was taken aback by the natural beauty of the North Carolina mountains, and decided right then and there he would return. He did return with his family around 1845, and about a year later they moved across Sugar Mountain Gap, cleared a small field and built a cabin about where Lees-McRae College now stands.
Martin Luther established the first permanent settlement in 1848, and eventually the Banner family grew to 55 members. The area where they lived became known as "Banner’s Elk" - deep in the mountains of North Carolina, a name you can still hear from some of the older local folk.
Rumor has it that the town was named after an elk- one of the last in
the region- that was shot and et, allegedly by one of those 55
There's plenty of casual and fine dining restaurants, and lots of shops selling anything from antiques and local crafts, to skis, snowboards and winter sporting gear.
Banner Elk is also the central gathering place for all types of outdoor excursions. Many shops on the main drag feature whitewater rafting, offering day trips to several of the nearby rivers that have various classes of whitewater.
Horseback riding enthusiasts are welcomed at two sites opened all year round. Banner Elk Stables has horseback riding by the hour, and the Smith Quarter Horse Farm offers full room and board for the whole family.
Everything for the fly fisherman can also be found in Banner Elk. Fly fishing gear, flies, fly tying gear, as well as lessons and guided excursions, are available at several locations.
And let’s not forget about the winter time! Banner's Elk plays
host to three of the top North Carolina ski resorts; Sugar
Mountain Ski Resort, Hawksnest Ski Resort, and
Ski Beech Mountain Resort. Skiing and snowboarding, scenic mountain views,
and a college town atmosphere, is what makes Banner Elk NC a winter fun wonderland
for thousands of people every year!
Exploring the Valley of Banner Elk
Weather coming south from Linville, or down from Boone, the first thing you’ll notice is the spectacular profile of Grandfather Mountain, which is essentially the eastern border of our valley. There’s an intersection at the eastern continental divide where you’ll see the “Shoppes of Tynecastle”, a rustic looking strip center built entirely of stone, a local building tradition also seen at Lees-McRae. Heading west, you’ll pass the gated community of Tynecastle on the right, and coming down the hill is an excellent view of the valley, with the impressive Sugar Mountain immediately to your left. Straight ahead looms the back of Beech Mountain, our western border, where we find the Town Center. Turn right for a long and winding road to Valle Crucis, or make a left that takes you to Lees-McRae College and the Elk River. Take the next right, and you’re on your way up to “the Beech”.
Truly a Four Seasons Resort, "Banner's Elk", as the old timers call it, offers all the amenities within easy distance of the areas main attractions. Whether you want to beat the summer heat, take a roll in the snow, enjoy the spring wildflowers of Avery county, or experience the spectacular colors of autumn, Banner Elk NC has it all!