I don’t know about you, but there are few things I look forward to more than a long weekend. Far too often my weekends turn into a game of catch up where I try to conquer all the tasks I was too busy to attend to during the week. But a long weekend gives you that extra time to accomplish those tasks and still have time to enjoy yourself. And since this upcoming weekend happens to have an extra day attached to it, why not head for the cool, refreshing mountains to enjoy a little extra playtime.
Labor Day Weekend is one of my very favorite long weekends. It not only honors the hard work and labor of the American worker, but it also bids farewell to the heat of summer and welcomes the cool, freshness of fall. This long weekend is the perfect opportunity to take that extra free time and check out something you haven’t experienced before. Maybe it is a new hiking trail or different scenic route you haven’t taken before. Whatever it is, this weekend is your chance to check it out. The mountains are calling….will you answer? Check out a few suggested activities below that are well worth your extra time this weekend.
Take a trip back in time to Cataloochee Valley
Start your day bright and early with a visit to see the reintroduced elk of Cataloochee Valley, which are most visible during dawn and dusk. The valley is one the most remote parts of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is rich in mountain history and beauty. The area is laced with abundant wildflowers and wildlife including elk, white-tailed deer, black bears, wild turkey, butterflies and many species of birds. The tranquil scenery is sure to inspire the inner artist in everyone. With several hiking trails, streams for fishing, and preserved buildings from the early 1900’s, there is plenty to explore in the valley. Want a guided tour of the valley? Check out Cataloochee Valley Tours!
*Bonus* – September – October is when the elk enter “rut” which is their mating season. Male elk “bugle” to attract females and challenge other bulls. This is a particularly interesting time to visit Cataloochee, but please practice caution and keep your distance from the elk. Remember – It is illegal to approach elk in the national park.
Photo courtesy of Esther Blakely – Cataloochee Valley Tours
Ride the Twists & Turns of the Blue Ridge Parkway
The 46 miles of the blue Ridge Parkway that run through Haywood County are one of the most popular attractions in the area. Haywood County is home to the highest elevated section on the entire parkway, so that means you’ll find some of the very best long range views at our 74 vistas and overlooks. Hop on the parkway entrance just outside of Maggie Valley and head North towards Canton for an exquisite drive through the Balsam Mountain Range, which is where Haywood ‘s native bluegrass band, Balsam Range, got the inspiration for their name. Stop for a hike and incredible views at Waterrock Knob, Richland Balsam (highest point on the parkway) Graveyard Fields and Devils Courthouse, just to name a few.
Snag your Catch of the Day on the Mountain Heritage Trout Waters
Want to try your hand at trout fishing but not ready to make the commitment to a full fishing license? Purchase a 3-day, $5.00 fishing license to fish in the designated Mountain Heritage Trout Waters in Waynesville and Maggie Valley. This special 3-day license can be purchased online at www.ncwildlife.org or by telephone Monday – Friday, 8-5 at 888-248-6834. Did you forget your fishing pole and tackle box? No worries! Stop by the Maggie Valley Visitor Center and pick up a free tackle box filled with 6 lures/flies and you can borrow either a fly rod or a spinner rod. You can also pick up a map of the heritage trout waters so you know exactly where the fish will be biting.
Enjoy the Height of Harvest Season
Did you know Haywood County is home to over 700 farms encompassing more than 56,000 acres? Needless to say, Haywood County is a hub for delicious agritourism offerings and this time of year is the height of harvest season. Grab a “Find Your Adventure” Agritourism Guide and let the tasty tour begin. Stop by one the county’s many produce stands, tailgate markets or farmers market for a true taste of Haywood County. Or make plans to dine at one of our incredible farm to table restaurants for mouthwatering local flavor. You’ll also find a variety of U-Pick farms, specialty retail shops, nurseries, historic preservation sites, and much more. Embark on your Haywood County agriadventure this weekend! Visit www.buyhaywood.com to learn more.
These experiences are only a few of the many ways to occupy your long weekend in the NC Smokies. This weekend is also host to several special events and countless other exciting activities to enjoy throughout the towns of Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Lake Junaluska, Canton and Clyde. Just poke around this website a little more and your guaranteed to find just what you’re looking for! Got questions or need suggestions? Give us call – 800.334.9036. We’ll help you plan a long weekend that you will be talking about long after you leave!