State Parks of the High Country
High Country state parks represent a nationally significant spectrum of superb outdoor recreation and priceless preservation. Many feature programs, special music events, outdoor venues for family reunions and gatherings, even business retreats.
The Boone Area boasts four state parks, two among the newest in North Carolina’s system of 29 parks and four recreation areas.
Did you know?—Elk Knob State Park is just part of the effort to preserve a major mountain range north of Boone. These are the so-called Amphibolite Mountains for their geologically unique composition of sedimentary rock turned metamorphic by volcanic action. There are backcountry campsites and cross country skiing and snowshoeing in winter. Check out the state park's Web site.
Grandfather Mountain’s very near vertical mile of elevation change creates 16 separate ecological zones that include seventy-two rare plant and animal species (32 globally imperiled) in a United Nations designated International Biosphere Reserve. This is one of the nation’s premier natural preserves with some of the South’s most spectacular and rugged hiking trails (check out the state park's Web site).
Mount Jefferson towers over Ashe County and its mountain climbing motor road whisks you to awesome views. Hike the easy 1.5-mile trail across the crest. This was part of the Underground Railroad—escaped slaves sheltered in its caves.
New River State Park surprises with a scenic 26-mile stretch of perhaps Earth’s oldest river. This pastoral waterway is a nationally significant natural area where even beginning paddlers can cruise into adventure with multi-night canoe camping available along the way. There are canoe and car accessible campgrounds (with showers), an excellent visitor center, picnicking, and miles of trails with river views from right beside the water or high above.
Most parks have ongoing special events that offer the perfect opportunity to get acquainted. It doesn’t take a scheduled event to make friends and memories at a High Country state park. Just drop in—there’s always something going on.
Luckily, you don’t have to live in the mountains to become a devoted fan of High Country state parks or donate your time and talents. The Boone Area group Friends of High Country State Parks actively supports efforts to protect and interpret these special places—and even build trails. In fall 2011 at Elk Knob, volunteers completed a spectacular 2-mile trail to the summit.
Visit the Friends of High Country State Parks on Facebook and get involved!
Visit each park’s Web site for information on upcoming programs, events—and especially volunteer opportunities to help improve and maintain the High Country's awesome outdoor facilities.
Dive into our Interactive Map!
Zoom in close on the map below (use the plus/minus signs and directional arrows at upper left), or repeatedly double click near, but not on, the map symbols. You can literally dive down to see the parking lots and landmarks for Boone Area State Parks. Click any map symbol and information balloons pop up. In the trailhead parking map balloons, click "Directions," add your address or location, and step-by-step directions will guide you to the hike from wherever you are!
View State Parks of the High Country in a larger map