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The Variety of Uncommon Communities Within the High Country … Banner Elk

By  Aaron Brown, REALTOR, Blue Ridge Realty & Investments, LLC

If you’ve been reading High Country Real Estate for any length of time, you know we’re terribly in love with the High Country. In our opinion, this is one of the most beautiful places on earth with a rich history, lush landscape, and unique character. Part of that unique character is the variety of uncommon communities within the High Country.

A few times a month over the course of the coming months, we’re going to be looking at some of the communities that add so much quality and spirit to our home here in the High Country. We’re going to start by taking a look at one of the jewels in the High Country crown, Banner Elk.

Incorporated in 1911, Banner Elk’s year round population was 1088 as of 2022 (and they all seem to be on Tynecastle Rd when I need to get somewhere). It is home to Lees-McRae College, the college with the highest elevation east of the Mississippi, and the Woolly Worm Festival on the 3rd weekend of October.

Banner Elk’s tourism motto is Escape. Unwind. Indulge. 

With that in mind, it’s really no surprise that it is a culinary hot spot in the area with everything from 5 star dining establishments to a great ice cream shop. Some of the fare available includes, Mexican, Asian, Italian, Louisiana-inspired, steakhouse, deli, and farm-to-table. Plus there are a variety of wineries and craft breweries within a 15 mile radius of downtown.

Named the ski capital of the South, Banner Elk is just minutes to two of the largest ski resorts in the South: Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain with a combined 220 acres of skiable terrain, 37 trails, and 17 lifts. Both resorts offer snow tubing as well and each has its own flair.

Just a few of the other wonderful attractions in Banner Elk include:

Apple Hill Farm – A working alpaca and llama farm with year round guided tours (approx. 45-60 minutes) to learn about the animals on the farm and have a chance to interact. In addition to the alpacas and llamas, there are angora goats, horses, donkeys, ponies, pigs and chickens. Plus there are amazing top of ridge panoramic views. Also, the farm’s shop sells fiber and yarn from the onsite animals.

Grandfather Mountain – One of NC’s most popular attractions, with a nature preserve, wilderness hiking trails, animal habitats, nature museum, famous Mile High Swinging Bridge, dining at Mildred’s Grill, naturalist programs, tables & grills for picnicking, gift shops, guided tours & special activities. Each July one of the biggest Scottish Games in the US takes place in this spectacular setting with athletic competitions, food, music, and more.

Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster – NC’s first alpine roller coaster. 3,160 feet of track with 3 circular loops, waves, twists, and turns. Individual carts. Top speed of 27 mph, average ride duration of 5 minutes. On-site clubhouse, observation deck, gift shop, coffee shop.

Wilderness Run Adventure Course – Ropes, logs, and planks secured to giant wooden tripods to create 28 obstacles with 3 levels of difficulty. Cargo nets, rock-climbing structures, swinging bridges and logs, crow’s nest at highest point of 40’ high. Children’s course for ages 2-5 on site.

With all of this and so much more, it’s easy to see why anyone would want to be in Banner Elk!