The higher elevations of Western North Carolina have been a refreshing respite for those living in the “lowlands” of the state for years. There are stunning views, big mountain peaks, endless recreation, lush forests, cascading rivers, exciting wildlife, room to roam, and plenty of fresh air. As you go up in elevation, the temperatures are also noticeably cooler. On a summer day, temperatures can range from the mid-’70s in the Western Mountains above 4000 feet to the mid-90’s in the Inner Coastal Plain area. When you add the humidity to the coastal areas, it can literally feel over 25 degrees hotter than the mountaintops (especially with those pleasant breezes).
From a meteorological perspective, air at higher altitude is under less pressure than air at lower altitude because there is less weight of the air above it, so it expands (and cools), while air at lower altitude is under more pressure so it contracts (and heats up). So, scientifically, you can rely on the temperatures almost always being cooler in the higher elevations or on top of a mountain. For planning purposes, if you are looking for an escape from the heat throughout the summer, you can bet on approximately 3 degrees cooler per 1000 feet in elevation gained. If you enjoy spending time in the great outdoors and the heat and humidity make it less desirable, we invite you to come visit our beautiful mountains.
The town of Blowing Rock is just over 3500 feet in elevation (3566’), with some of the surrounding areas climbing above 5,000’ (Grandfather Mountain and Beech Mountain). This equates to average summer temperatures are generally in the upper 70’s during the day and in the upper 50’s at night. In addition to the cooler temperatures, it is also easy to find shade or a cool mountain breeze, especially along the Blue Ridge Parkway. With the cooler temperatures due to the reduction in pressure from the air above, the higher elevations allow us to immerse ourselves in the endless opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Now, you have to decide what to do! Here are some of our favorite activities to enjoy under less pressure:
Hiking, horseback riding, rafting, tubing, ziplining, fishing, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, clay shooting, reading a book by the lake, driving the Blue Ridge Parkway (with the windows down!), picnicking, bonfire with s’mores, jogging, and exploring a new park.
Downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, fly-fishing, reading a book by a cozy fire, biking (fat bikes over snow), and many of the summer activities with warmer clothing 😊
Elevations of Nearby Towns
Blowing Rock 3,566’
Banner Elk 3,701’
West Jefferson 3,000’
Elevations of Nearby Mountain Peaks
Beech Mountain 5,506’
Sugar Mountain 5,300’
Grandfather Mountain 5,946’
Elk Knob 5,566’
Mount Jefferson 4,616’
Howard’s Knob 4,420’
Roan Mountain 6,285’
Take some pressure off of yourself and go enjoy some time in the great outdoors!