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High Country Host Looks To Move Into App Ski Mtn. Visitor Center in Early September

A tractor moves dirt for creative landscaping at the Appalachian Ski Mtn. visitor center along U.S. 321 in Blowing Rock. Photo by Ken Ketchie

By Jesse Wood

Appalachian Ski Mtn. General Manager Brad Moretz hopes High Country Host will be able to move into the resort’s new visitor center on U.S. 321 by the end of next week.

The visitor center is located at the Edmisten Road intersection, which is also the main entrance to Appalachian Ski Mtn, and is across the street from the “Reba S. and Grady Moretz, Jr. Bridge” that leads to the new Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge.

“I think it’s going to be an elegant entrance in Blowing Rock – no doubt about that. I want people to see the quality of the facilities here and the welcome center will reflect that quality experience we have in the ski area,” Moretz said.

On Friday afternoon, Ron Cutlip, a licensed landscape architect, who volunteered his talents on the new Blowing Rock School playground, was on the site – along with other crews – working his magic.

“Ron just did a spectacular job with the Blowing Rock School playground. It has to be the most beautiful school playground in North Carolina. I was real impressed by his creativity,” Moretz said. “He’ll do something that will really do an impression on us, I think.”

Cutlip said that the mounds, boulders and creative grading being created and installed on the property will replicate the “ups and downs” of slopes and give you a “top of the mountain feeling.”

“Even though you are right here on 321,” Cutlip said, laughing. “It’s like a sampler of what you’ll envision [at the top of Appalachian Ski Mtn.].”

The visitor center, which is a 1,547-square-foot building, will be open year round with High Country Host operating out half of the space seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

Because the NCDOT, which owned the property that High Country Host operated on near the old Kmart in Boone, sold the property to a developer, which is reportedly leasing to Starbucks earlier this year, High Country Host had to find a new location.

Candice Cook, marketing director for High Country Host, said that the space is essentially “split down the middle” with ASM information, merchandise for sale and webcams for view of the resort on one side – and High Country Host on the other side.

“We are taking all of our materials with us, so it’s pretty much the same thing but different location,” Cook said. “We’ll run our visitor center the same way we do here by promoting the five counties in the region for the DOT.”

Cook added that they are excited to operate near the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Foley Center at Chestnut Ridge and along the busy highway of U.S. 321.

“That’s where most of our visitors are coming from anyway,” Cook said. “Having the Blue Ridge Parkway [nearby] and being on the main highway will really boost our numbers when we move out there.”

Ron Cutlip, landscape architect
Ron Cutlip, landscape architect; Steve Stanley, App Ski Mtn.’s Mountain Manager; and Garrett Hicks of Hick’s Construction
Cutlip marks the ground for future placement of mulch, dirt, rocks and other things in his creative landscaping design.
Appalachian Ski Mtn.’s new visitor center also features a detached sign advertising the resort.