Banner Elk, North Carolina is located in Avery County, close to the Tennessee line. This small town is immersed in nature, but full of entertainment opportunities for you and your family. Home to Lees-McCrae college, it holds a heavy focus on wildlife and preservation.
Banner Elk became incorporated in 1911, but before that, it was called Banner's Elk and was home to the Banner family who originally immigrated from Wales. Before then, there is evidence to believe that the area was inhabited by the Cherokee, for hunting and fishing. Banner Elk still holds plenty of history, with some sites such as the Banner Elk Hotel and Robert Chester and Elsie H. Lowe House listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
With a modern-day population just over 1,000, Banner Elk is your perfect small town. If you're looking to beat the heat, Banner Elk may prove to be the place for you, because its elevation ensures only mild summers but cool winters. Located within the Avery County school district, Banner Elk will offer your child a fine education. From stunning views to family fun, Banner Elk is the perfect little place to settle down.
A trademark of Banner Elk is the beautiful Elk River and Elk River Falls. Perhaps you'll recall the lyrics of country music singer Eric Church, "tonight I'm fishing Elk River if only in my mind." It truly is the place of daydreams! The Falls are picturesque all by themselves, with a 50-foot drop. There are multiple trails surrounding the falls for optimal views. Within the river itself, there are multiple opportunities for water sports including fishing, rafting, canoeing, and kayaking. You can touch base with any of the many outdoor outfitters and adventure companies, some of which include Base Camp BE, Edge of the World Outfitters, High Mountain Expeditions, and Foscoe Fishing Company.
If you're looking to stay on dry land, there are plenty of walking and hiking opportunities in Banner Elk, including the Banner Elk Greenway, Banner Elk Stables for horseback riding, and Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park for mountain biking. In a short drive, you can be to Grandfather Mountain to visit the wildlife or take a walk across the Mile-High Swinging Bridge. Across the border in Tennessee is Roan Mountain State Park, which offers some amazing summit views. You can also visit Beech Mountain, or visit Hawksnest Ziplining to get up in the air.
Banner Elk sits right at the heart of winter sports country. North Carolina’s largest ski area is Sugar Mountain Resort, which is right down the road from Banner Elk. Sugar offers 21 trails and nine lifts. The peak elevation is 5,300 feet, and Sugar has 115 acres of skiable terrain. Another great option for skiing is Beech Mountain Resort. Beech Mountain Resort is the highest ski area in the Eastern U.S., with a peak elevation of 5,506 feet. It has 17 trails, including an expansive terrain park, on 95 skiable acres.
If you're not great at skiing, but still have the need for speed, Hawksnest Snow Tubing will be the place for you. Hawksnest is home to the East Coast’s largest snow tubing park for those who wish to play in the snow, and a special Snowbird Zipline Tour for those who want to fly through the air.
Ever heard of the Woolly Worm Festival? Well, this nationally-recognized festival takes place right here in Banner Elk, on the third weekend of October annually. Since 1978, this quirky, world-famous festival has been used to predict the upcoming winter weather for the North Carolina High Country. Enjoy a weekend of fun-filled activities, including the famous woolly worm race, and get ready to enjoy some delicious festival food. You could enter your woolly worm into the race for a chance to win $1,000!
Besides this renowned festival, Banner Elk is sure to keep you busy with its many festivals that happen year-round. They often have Art on The Greene, which features local artists, as well as a Fourth of July Parade, Easter Eggstravaganza, A Small Town Christmas festival, and Trunk or Treat.