Visiting The Blowing Rock in North Carolina

We seem to have a knack for finding random oddities to add to our trip itineraries when we travel.  In the case of The Blowing Rock, we seemed to build our spring break trip around our visit to the site.  My husband should have been a geologist--and my true passions lie in archaeology, anthropology, and Native American history and lore.  The Blowing Rock, located near the North Carolina town of the same name, quickly found itself on our "bucket list" of US sites to see.  What can I share about our visit to The Blowing Rock in the mountains of North Carolina?

Old Sign for The Blowing Rock in The Blowing Rock Photo Gallery

The Blowing Rock Visitor Center

Next to the parking lot, visitors will find the Blowing Rock Visitor Center.  To access the site, you must enter the visitor center.  This building is where you will find some site information and pay for your admission tickets.

Front View of the Blowing Rock Visitor Center

The Legend of the Blowing Rock

I am always fascinated by Native American legends and stories.  The monument at The Blowing Rock site tells the following account of the legend.  

Marker telling the story of the Legend of the Blowing Rock

"It is said that a Chickasaw chieftan, fearful of a white man’s admiration for his lovely daughter, journeyed far from the plains to bring her to The Blowing Rock and the care of a squaw mother. One day the maiden, daydreaming on the craggy cliff, spied a Cherokee brave wandering in the wilderness far below and playfully shot an arrow in his direction. The flirtation worked because soon he appeared before her wigwam, courted her with songs of his land and they became lovers, wandering the pathless woodlands and along the crystal streams. One day a strange reddening of the sky brought the brave and the maiden to The Blowing Rock. To him it was a sign of trouble commanding his return to his tribe in the plains. With the maiden’s entreaties not to leave her, the brave, torn by conflict of duty and heart, leaped from The Rock into the wilderness far below. The grief-stricken maiden prayed daily to the Great Spirit until one evening with a reddening sky, a gust of wind blew her lover back onto The Rock and into her arms. From that day a perpetual wind has blown up onto The Rock from the valley below. For people of other days, at least, this was explanation enough for The Blowing Rock’s mysterious winds causing even the snow to fall upside down."

The Science Behind The Blowing Rock 

While I do love a good legend, The Blowing Rock also has a pretty unique story from a science geek perspective.  It seems that it is possible for light objects to be "returned" up to the rock due to its unique location!  Ripley's "Believe-it-Or-Not called it "the only place in the world where snow falls upside down".  Why?  The Blowing Rock cliff sits 4,000 feet above sea level and overhangs the Johns River Gorge 3,000 feet below. The rock walls of the gorge form a flume through which the northwest wind sweeps with such force that the wind actually returns light objects cast out from the rock.

I am not sure if it snows "upside down" up there, but, there was zero chance of keeping our hair in place from the moment we ventured toward The Blowing Rock or to the nearby observation deck area!  

Rocky Cliffs Line the Site's Trails

The rocks make for some fun photo backdrops--and strike the interest of rock-loving visitors.   There is a guard rail along much of the path, giving it a safer feel as you walk along the cliff's edge to view The Blowing Rock.

Rock formations along trails at The Blowing Rock

Rock formations along trails at The Blowing Rock

The Blowing Rock

The Blowing Rock is one of North Carolina's oldest tourist attractions.  Established as a travel stop in 1933--the rock itself has a much older geologic presence.  Millions of years, to be exact.   Ripley's "Believe-it-Or-Not called The Blowing Rock "the only place in the world where snow falls upside down."  It seems that if you were to toss something light, like a handkerchief, off of the rock, it would actually float up and return to you rather than drop to the gorge below.  Snowflakes seem to float back up as well. 

The Blowing Rock rock formation in North Carolina

The Views From The Blowing Rock

Cloudy, rainy Spring days led to photos that simply do not do the views from The Blowing Rock any justice.  You can see for miles across the gorge--picking out Grandfather Mountain, the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and  Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi.

Mountain Views from The Blowing Rock in North Carolina

Mountain Views from The Blowing Rock in North Carolina

Views near The Blowing Rock in North Carolina

If you Visit The Blowing Rock

Plan about an Hour.  The site is fairly small, with a couple of short trails off the main trail that runs from the main entrance to the Observation Tower, giving fantastic views of the gorge.  There is a little garden and waterfall area and a picnic area, as well as an indoor photo gallery and gift shop.  We probably spent only a little over an hour on site, even with taking extra photos, a bathroom break and a thorough look through the photo gallery and rock shop.

There is an Admission Charge to Access the Site.  Sometimes a site charges admission for "extra" things like tours or special areas.  The Blowing Rock setup requires visitors to pass through the main building--and pay their admission fee--to access any part of the site.  So--if you visit, make sure to check the site's operating hours and admission rates, as each varies a bit seasonally. If the facility is closed, you will not be able to view The Blowing Rock or access the observation tower.  However--your admission ticket is good for the whole day, so if you wanted to stop in a couple of times during the day, you could do that.

The restrooms are easily accessible.  There is a restroom at the main building entrance and midway near the picnic area--so if you have little ones, there is no need to worry about finding a bathroom during your visit.

Pack a picnic lunch.  The picnic area is small, but if you enjoy packing along a lunch--there is space with a few tables. 

Be Ready for the Wind.  My daughters and I have long hair--and did not take along hair ties--so we spent most of the viewing and photo-taking with our hair in our eyes. 

Anticipate a Crowd During Peak Season.  There were lighter crowds during the late March days  that we visited.  Fewer people meant that we were able to spend more time taking photos and exploring the little trails off the main trail.  We visited earlier in the day as well.  The Blowing Rock's main area is handicap accessible, but, all of the trails are not.  

The Blowing Rock is Pet Friendly.  Leashed pets are also allowed.  Having said that, some of the trails are narrow, and the facility rather small.  Our dog loves kids and cats--but, is not a fan of other dogs, so we opted to have him skip the trip!

Dining in the Area.  We ate dinner at Woodlands Barbecue and had a great experience.  The portions were huge, and there was live music when we visited.  I have read that our experience may not always be the norm--so you may want to weigh some other local options too.   

Other Activities in the Area.  We visited the town of Blowing Rock and wandered through the shops and tours the BRAHM (Blowing Rock Art & History Museum).  While there were other activities and things to do in Blowing Rock--like gem mining and wineries--we were there a little early in the season, so some things were not yet opened.  We spent most of our time driving and exploring stop offs along the Blue Ridge Parkway during our stay there.


Pinnable Image for a Visit to the Blowing Rock

The Blowing Rock was a unique stop that I would very much recommend!

Details about the Site Featured Here:

The Blowing Rock

432 The Rock Road
Blowing Rock, NC 28605


If you are visiting from the Blogging from A to Z Challenge--B is for Blowing Rock!

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  1. Greetings from Australia. I enjoyed reading about the legend and virtually visiting the Blowing Rock.

    A fellow A to Z participant


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