So when you live in a vacation destination such as Blowing Rock where people come to "get away from it all" where do you go to "get away from it all"? Well, the answer to that question this year was about 30 minutes outside of Burnsville, NC for my family. When I asked my Mom, "why Burnsville", she candidly replied..."well, none of us have ever been there before". Well, I guess that was good enough for me and the other 14 or so members of my extended family, all of who trekked from the far reaches of North Carolina and Virginia to the off the beaten path "cabin" that was big enough to house our rambunctious clan for a whole week.
My husband and I woke up with a burst of motivation one morning and decided to load up and drive the hour to Mt. Mitchell state park. Living in North Carolina and coming to various nooks and crannies of the mountains all my life, I just assumed that I had been there at some point. Turns out I hadn't, nor had my husband who grew up in nearby Morganton. We ended up having a wonderful day trip pretending to be tourists an hour and a half from home. We stopped at all of the overlooks on the parkway and took pictures of trees and butterflies. We set the camera to a timer so that we could have a pictures with both of us. We even bought the touristy blackberry jam at the little concession stand at the top of the mountain. It was a wonderful sunny day with the temperature at least 7 degrees cooler than when we set out at the base of the mountain.
The views were exceptional from all angles. The only downfall was that the observation deck at the top is currently closed for construction as it has been since March of 07'. Right now it's about 60% complete so it shouldn't be too much longer but I doubt they'll have it open before next spring. The good news is that you don't have to fight the crowds. The bad news is that, while you can drive up and have nice views from the main parking area and wilderness trails, you're not going to experience that huge unobstructed panoramic vista from the tip top.
All in all, definitely a worthwhile day trip even without the pinnacle. It's a pretty wild feeling to be up there, knowing that you're higher up than anyone on the eastern half of the United States. Getting there is a bit out of the way but the drive up is half the fun. Just don't pick a day where it's going to be cloudy or stormy . If you do you'll end up like the rest of my family when they decided to make the trip a day after we did!