Come visit Banner Elk and experience it for yourself! I can’t wait to show you what makes Banner Elk the High Country’s best-kept secret. From breathtaking views to exhilarating adventures, this gem offers something for every adventure seeker.
Enjoy outdoor recreation and scenic beauty. With exceptional trail systems for biking, hiking, and horseback riding, you’ll never run out of things to do in the High Country. Plus, Banner Elk is home to some of the best Appalachian Trail festivals in the country. No matter your taste, you’ll find great activities in Banner Elk.
Visiting other destinations in North Carolina? Check out our other delicious guides:
- 7 Best Restaurants In Banner Elk, NC
- 13 Must-Try Restaurants in Mooresville, NC
- 11 Must-Try Restaurants in Manteo, North Carolina
- 8 Must-Try Boone NC Restaurants
- 13 Best Restaurants in Lexington, North Carolina
- 6 Best Things To Do In Banner Elk NC
- Which of these things to do in Banner Elk NC do you most want to try? Let us know in the comments section below!
6 Best Things To Do In Banner Elk NC
Grandfather Mountain State Park
Banner Elk is home to Grandfather Mountain, a state park on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Whether you’re hiking the Mountains-to-Sea Trail or the Oconaluftee River Trail, backpacking along the Appalachian Trail, or taking in bracing views on Cliffside Trail, a trip to Banner Elk is full of natural beauty. Bring your camera because the mountain’s 2,456-acre backcountry welcomes scenic views and animal watching.
The Grandfather Mountain State Park is located near Banner Elk, North Carolina. The State Park is known for some of the South’s most severe weather and challenging terrain, with trails that have hikers scrambling along cliffs and up ladders.
There are two hiking trails to the summit of Grandfather Mountain. The Devil’s Courthouse hike is 3.5 miles round trip and has many overlooks and challenges through rock scrambles. The Virginia Ridge Trail is six miles round trip with a strenuous climb of 1,590 feet from the slope level at mile marker 17 on the parkway to its summit.
The trails and forests surrounding the banks of the North Toe River in Banner Elk, NC, offer a variety of outdoor adventures for hikers, campers, and families. The Ranger Station at Profile Park is open every day from 8:30 AM-5:00 PM until late October or early November (depending on snowfall).
The park features dining and lodging close by, boating rentals on the North Toe River, and home-style cooking at the Smoky Mountain Diner just a few miles down the road.
1009 Sugar Mountain Dr // +1 828-898-4521
Sugar Mountain is the largest ski resort in North Carolina, and one of the largest in the Eastern United States. With more than 33 runs, six snowboarding and tubing parks, four terrain parks, ten lifts—including a high-speed quad—and ten action-packed resorts scattered around the slopes with night skiing every Saturday, there is something for everyone to do in this Banner Elk location.
This is a wonderful little town with lots of things to do. Many people come during the fall color season for a great time of year to hike on trails in the woods and enjoy views from atop Grandfather Mountain. There are rock shelters to explore, 360-degree views, and waterfalls, including Linville Falls off the Parkway near Grandfather Mountain. Enjoy!
Banner Elk is North Carolina’s highest base elevation, combined with a wide range of slopes and trails that make Sugar Mountain Resort the premier destination for skiing and snowboarding in North Carolina. Thousands of acres of skiable terrain at our five mountains offer something for skiers and riders of all ages and abilities, from beginners to experts.
Sugar Mountain Resort is known for its unique vibe, which embraces the casual and irreverent attitude of nearby Boone, yet also presents itself as an ideal place for families to enjoy a special winter getaway. In fact, the resort began its life back in 1954 as Banner Elk’s community recreation center. These days it’s a part ski resort and part entertainment complex, with an outdoor ice skating rink and snow tubing park, live music venue, and even an arcade and bar.
Elk River Falls – Elk River Rd // +1 828-733-9573
Are you looking for things to do in Banner Elk? Banner Elk offers a wealth of attractions, including shopping, winter and summer sports activities, historic sites, museums, fine dining, wineries, entertainment, and more. For those who enjoy the great outdoors and scenic views, one of the most popular attractions is Elk River Falls. Located in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina, this impressive waterfall is accessible from Interstate 40 at Exit 103 -Highway 105 – and can be seen from Highway 105 near mile marker 156.
The falls are one of the most impressive and majestic waterfalls in the area. In fact, this waterfall that is located near the popular tourist towns of Beech Mountain and Banner Elk used to be called “Big Falls” and is still identified as such on many topographic maps of the area.
The Larry Waterfalls is the largest waterfall in the area and is a popular spot for swimming and wading, as well as sunbathing and relaxing along the rocks that frame its gorgeous bottom. It’s also a popular spot for cliff jumping, so be careful! Don’t forget to look around a little bit – views from the top of Larry will take your breath away.
The falls are just as spectacular as the town itself. If you’re looking for something to cool off, the trail leading out to the falls is a great choice. It’s only about a five-minute hike through forest and meadow that will bring you up on top of the falls — in the thick of tall trees and undergrowth that provide a welcome relief from the sun’s rays during the summer.
3265 Tynecastle Hwy // +1 828-898-7866
Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is North Carolina’s first alpine roller coaster. This thrilling outdoor adventure in Banner Elk is modeled after popular coasters in Europe and built by Germany’s top alpine coaster company, Mack Rides. The alpine coaster track has 3,160 ft of pure thrills with three circular loops, a series of waves, and several twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Riders will navigate the track in individual carts that are designed to accommodate up to two people. Each ride begins with a cable-pulled ascent of 770 feet to the top. At that point, the alpine coaster resembles a roller coaster because the remainder of the downhill track is gravity-fed, with the rider grasping two handles that serve as brakes. Riders can use as little or as much braking as they like, but what happens when riders reach speeds topping out at 42 miles per hour? Only one way to find out . . . go ahead and have a seat on this fun activity in Banner Elk.
60 Deer Run, Banner Elk // +1 828-898-9090
Welcome to the wonderful world of wine tasting! The Banner Elk Winery is Avery County’s first commercial winery. In addition to making a great selection of wines, they offer wine-tasting events and evening wine tastings where you can purchase bottles to enjoy at home.
Wolfe Creek Vineyard is located in Banner Elk, North Carolina. The philosophy is to grow French hybrid varieties and other varieties that balance the needs of the winemaker and the consumers. The winemaker, Dick Wolfe, makes a variety of wines from grapes grown on the property and sourced from other local vineyards. The Marechal Foch is made from French-American hybrid grapes that produce a red wine with intense flavors and color.
Banner Elk is nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, where great wines are handcrafted. The climate and soil create a great environment for grapes to grow, and the end result is exceptional award-winning wines. The scenery here rivals that of Napa Valley but with half the price tag. Enjoy a stroll around our quaint downtown, visit the art galleries and shops, or take a hike through the woods or along trails. There’s always something to do in Banner Elk.
Banner Elk Winery produces two unusual specialty wines. Its blueberry wine pays tribute to the property’s historic blueberry farm and is produced from fruit grown on bushes that still remain. The ice wine is a rare variety made from high-elevation grapes left on the vine until after the first freeze.
103 Lakeledge Rd, Beech Mountain // +1 828-387-4208
Beech Mountain Club is a premier Eastern destination near Banner Elk and Boone, North Carolina, with two mountains offering 17 trails on 95 skiable acres. With the highest peak elevation in the Eastern U.S. at 5,506 feet, Beech Mountain has terrain for skiers and riders of all levels.
Depending on the weather, the ski school offers programs for all ages, either young or old. Offering lessons from top-rated instructors is one of the best ways to make your day on the slopes enjoyable and memorable. For added convenience, the Burton Learn-to-Ride Center welcomes children aged three years and up with a designated area that houses a gentler terrain park designed specifically for first-time snowboarders.
Beech Mountain Resort in Banner Elk always has something to offer skiers and snowboarders, from beginner to expert. On the lower mountain, beginners can enjoy wide groomed trails, scenic views, and open areas to practice new skills. As you advance to the upper mountain, choose from chutes and steeps, or head over to the Oz Run for a widely-known “back-breaking” run that looks down on the valley below.
The Beech Mountain Resort has many fun activities year-round. Things to do in Banner Elk, NC, include shopping, strolling through the shops of the alpine village, visiting the craft brewery, ice skating, or snow tubing. Hiking trails can be accessed from any of three main parking lots; a zip line link trail is also available from one lot to another.
Banner Elk is a four-season place, meaning you can go there any time of the year and enjoy numerous activities all day long.
It is important to bring a decent camera so you can take as many pictures/videos as you can. Also, bring a few more extra dollars than what your planned budget is because some of the things in Banner Elk will throw you off your plan, meaning if you planned to visit or go to a certain place, on your way, you will find many other attractions that will get your attention. You will never lack things to do in Banner Elk.
Which of these things to do in Banner Elk NC do you most want to try? Let us know in the comments section below!
Travel writer and owner of the blog. My work has been featured on Fodors, Eater.com, International Living, and Great Escape Publishing, among many others. My story? Nearly six years ago, I left my job at an Oklahoma City law firm and embarked on a journey around the world. At the time, I thought I would only be gone for 6 months, but the more I traveled, the longer my bucket list became. Flashpacker describes how I travel. Rather than traveling as the normal world wise backpacker and staying in hostel dorms, I prefer a more comfortable experience, and typically stay in private rooms, take Ubers instead of taxis, and now use a suitcase instead of a backpack. Foodie, on the other hand, describes one of the key reasons why I travel. I love to pick a central “base camp” and then explore the surrounding area, really immersing myself in the culture and interacting with the people, and enjoying and exploring the food of an area is an essential part of this experience.