Continuing our visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains we stopped in Asheville, NC, for 5 nights at the Bear Creek RV Park. This time we did not travel on the Blue Ridge Parkway since there is a very steep ascent and descent just before reaching Asheville so we didn’t want to put this stress on our vehicle.
I suppose a visit to Asheville wouldn’t be complete without going to see the Biltmore Estate. This very large estate with a massive house, extensive gardens, parklands and a winery, was built by George Vanderbilt. The Biltmore House was opened in 1895 after six years of construction. It was during this same time that Cornelius Vanderbilt completed the family’s beach house in Newport, RI, which is know as “The Breakers”. We toured that house back in August. We particularly enjoyed the Biltmore gardens and the Conservatory with its extensive selection of orchids. After we visited the winery and tasted some of the Biltmore wines we encountered a special event where they were presenting a variety of artisan foods to sample.
Asheville has a very active craft beer brewing scene. We visited Oyster House Brewing Company, One World Brewing and New Belgium Brewing. New Belgium has established one of the large nationally distributed craft beer brands. Although headquartered in Fort Collins, CO, New Belgium has recently built a large brewery here in Asheville along with a beautiful tasting bar.
On a day trip, we drove the southern leg of the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This brings you into the southern entrance to the park at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. From there we drove up the Newfound Gap Road and from there to Clingmans Dome which at 6,643 feet is the highest point in the Smoky Mountains and the second highest point in the eastern United States. A portion of the 2,174 mile long Appalachian Trail passes through the Smoky Mountains alongside Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome.
Next stop: Columbia, SC