The Ultimate Guide To Asheville
and the Western North Carolina Mountains
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Western North Carolina
Western North Carolina, the region of North Carolina that includes the Appalachian Mountains, is blessed with towering verdant mountains, lovely gentle valleys, flower-filled coves, virgin stands of untouched forest, crystal clear lakes and streams, and vibrant cities and towns. The mountains are generally separated into four distinct zones or regions. The Western Mountains, extending from Andrews and Murphy in the far western corner to Waynesville, the Central Mountains from Waynesville through Asheville to the Burnsville area, the Northern Mountains from Burnsville to Sparta, and the Foothills, extending along the full length of the mountains from Columbus to North Wilkesboro.
Detailed, up-to-date information of all of the best accommodations, restaurants and attractions in Asheville and Western North Carolina can be found in the print publication of The Ultimate Guide to Asheville & the Western North Carolina Mountains
The major cities with populations over 10,000 are Asheville (92,000), Boone (15,000), Hendersonville (10,000), Hickory (40,000), Lenoir (17,000), Morganton (17,000), Newton (13,000) and Waynesville (10,000). Asheville is the hub city, home to the famous Biltmore Estate, America's largest private residence and the major tourist attraction. The other major cultural attractions in Western North Carolina, in terms of visitors, is Harrah's Cherokee Casino, located on the Cherokee Indian Reservation in the western part of the mountains.
Tourism is the major industry in Western North Carolina, with millions of visitors each year flocking to the mountains for outdoor recreation. The area includes the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Nantahala National Forest, the Pisgah National Forest and numerous State Forests. Most of Western North Carolina is wilderness and offers an abundance of recreational opportunities from mountain climbing to whitewater rafting. Other major natural attractions include the Appalachian Scenic National Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway, both of which pass right through the mountains.
The unique character of the Western North Carolina mountains is such that Congress has even designated them a National Heritage Area, and the region is now officially recognized as the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.
There are 24 counties in Western North Carolina with a total population of over 1,000,000. The region covers approximately 11,000 square miles and is roughly the size of the state of Massachusetts. There are over 80 mountain peaks between 5,000 to 6,000 feet in elevation, and 43 that rise to over 6,000 feet.
Western North Carolina Counties
(with County Seats and