Life in Black Mountain
Learn more about what Black Mountain has to offer
About Black Mountain, North CarolinaThe Swannanoa Valley is home to Black Mountain, a special town located 15 miles east of Asheville, NC. We are a small town community, but the one thing that sets us apart is that, within the small town genre, we are home to the eclectic and creative, artistic and business-minded alike. We have an active cultural calendar, with festivals, music, museums, and artevents year-round. We welcome visitors to our mountain home not only with the Southern hospitality and charm of a small town, but also with a love for the unique. We are an eclectic community of businesses, artisans, friends, and neighbors and have much to offer visitors and residents alike, for all ages in all seasons. Children, young adults, retirees, and everyone in between find this town to be an enriching, fulfilling community.
Black Mountain History
The earliest people, the Cherokee, hunted in the Swannanoa Valley for centuries. The English arrived to the New World and explorers and settlers gradually made inroads in the mountainous Cherokee lands. After the Revolutionary War, immigrant settlers began to populate the Valley. By 1800, roads were being built, wagons came into use, schools were being built and settlement was spreading. As the nineteenth century progress, life in the Valley became safer and it was during this period that the area experienced its earliest tourism. The Black Mountain Range, with its high peaks, scenic beauty, and cool summertime climate, attracted visitors from the lower, hotter piedmont and coastal areas.
The town of Grey Eagle (as Black Mountain was originally known) saw a rise in tourism that was interrupted by the Civil War, but interest in the area was resumed later in the 1800s. The railroad, which had been started before the Civil War, did not reach Grey Eagle until 1879, but within a decade, tourists arrived steadily by train, and hotels, cottages, and boarding houses sprung up to accommodate them. Tourism became the major industry after Grey Eagle incorporated as a town and was renamed Black Mountain. In addition, religious organizations began to explore the Valley as a location for retreat centers, resulting in the development of Montreat, Ridgcrest, YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly, and Christmont. Besides tourism, textile and furniture manufacturing and logging flourished, although those industries have ceased to operate in the Valley. Today, Black Mountain has a robust year-round tourist economy that draws thousands of visitors.
The area has always attracted scholars, poets, writers, artists, and musicians – creative people drawn to the beauty and serenity of the mountains. In the 1930s, an unusual educational forum known as The Black Mountain College was established, an experimental school that attracted some of the 20th century's most outstanding thinkers and artists and that operated until 1956. The Valley is also home to Warren Wilson College, which began as the Asheville Farm School for Boys in 1894 and has developed into a four-year nationally known college that operates a vocational/service programs in which all students support the school's operations.
Places to See and Things to Do
Historic downtown Black Mountain hosts over over 200 businesses, specialty shops, furniture makers, breweries, a museum of the Swannanoa Valley, an arts center, and a full course of dining options. Other attractions of the town include the Town Square, with beautiful landscaping and oversized rocking chairs, an authentic old fashioned general store, Town Hardware, and the restored train depot that boasts a gallery as well as arts and crafts for sale. After eating a delicious dinner at one of 35 fine restaurants, enjoy a leisurely walk around Lake Tomahawk just minutes from downtown. It offers a well-lighted level path for safe strolling for day or evening and a senior center for various activities. Besides shopping and dining, available activities include hiking, biking, golfing, fishing, boating, swimming, croquet, camping, lakes, and nearby waterfalls. There are several venues for musical enjoyment in the area. The Valley is home to six major conference centers, two colleges, and several well-known summer camps. Enjoy beautiful mountain vistas along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway and spectacular views from the summit of Mt. Mitchell, the tallest mountain peak in the eastern United States, minutes off the Parkway. The Biltmore Estate, the largest single family privately owned home in the country located in Asheville, is a must-see.
Black Mountain's annual Sourwood Festival is always a hit with the locals and visitors alike. Held each year in August, it's a time for good food, good music, and good friends. For the more adventurous, there's the annual Black Mountain Marathon & Mt. Mitchell Challenge in February. Glorious views and crisp, cleansing air make this an exhilarating trek. The holidays always bring lots of festivity to Black Mountain. In the late spring/fall, there are two arts and crafts shows at the Old Depot Station. Winter brings a Christmas parade, Holly Jolly sponsored by the local merchants, and the “Circle of Lights” around Lake Tomahawk. In spring, events include the “Taste of Black Mountain,” sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, and the Lake Eden Arts Festival (better known as LEAF). And of course the 4th of July is always a popular day in Black Mountain with lots of family and visitors in town.
For your stay, choose from your favorite kind of overnight accommodation – we have them all, including country inns, B&Bs, vacation rentals, cabins, and hotels. Whether you are here for the day or the week, or choose the valley as your home, you'll find we are a colorful, diverse, and creative community rich in natural beauty and small-town charm.
From Main Street to the Mountains
- Parks for all ages around town
- Mountain adventures just minutes away
- Natural beauty in every direction
- Small town lifestyle with amenities