NPO 100 Great Smoky Mtns

We’re celebrating National Parks Week from April 16-24. The National Park Service (NPS) celebrates an important milestone this year: 100 years of the National Park Service Organic Act. Today, the NPS manages 401 park units and attendance hit a peak last year. While we’ve got easy access to two of the most visited units – the Blue Ridge Parkway (#1) and Great Smoky Mountains National Park (#4) – day hikes are only the beginning of adventures that can be had when you venture just beyond our community. Grab the car and the kids and head out for these weekend trips this spring or summer.

There are 850 miles of trails and unpaved roads in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for hiking, including seventy miles of the Appalachian Trail. The only lodging inside the park is LeConte Lodge on top of Mount Le Conte near Sevierville. However, it operates on a lottery system so if you visit in 2016, you’ll most likely use one of the ten pet-friendly family campgrounds.

Stop at Clingmans Dome Observation Tower for a perfect example of American modernist architecture and a stunning 360° view of up to 100 miles in each direction. Spend a night or two camping and exploring at Cades Cove or Smokemont and then take the family to Gatlinburg to satisfy every tourist curiosity you’ve ever had – from the Museum of Salt & Pepper Shakers and indoor skydiving to horseback riding and musical dinner theatre.

If you’re not quite in the traveling mood or want to try some local hikes before setting out on the trails in Virginia and Tennessee, try portions of these trails to join the NPS Centennial Celebration.

  • The Appalachian Trail at Max Patch
  • The Mountains-to-Sea Trail at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Memminger Trail at Carl Sandburg Home
  • Deep Creek Trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Museum of the Cherokee Indian in Cherokee on the Trail of Tears

Half Tank Getaways highlights some of our favorite places just outside of Buncombe County and is powered by our pals at Prestige Subaru.

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Music Monday Josh Ritter

You don’t want to miss the excellent folk pop show coming to the Orange Peel May 18th: 98.1 the River presents Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band. Josh Ritter’s storytelling style of songwriting calls to mind greats of the modern music age like Springsteen, Dylan, and Simon. He’s representing the trials, tribulations, and exaltation of his generation, with songs that tell the stories of being a young adult in America: loneliness, love, spirituality, traveling on to the next adventure. His emotional and malleable voice overlays a music style that’s a little bit folk, a bit rock-and-roll, and a touch twangy Americana. He is touring a new album,”Sermon on the Rocks,” and it’s getting acclaim from fans and critics everywhere he goes. If you’re a music lover, you’ll want to be in the audience for this one. Of the many, many accolade Ritter has received, some highlights:

  • “How refreshing and inspiring it is to encounter a young artist whose achievements match his ambitions.” — The Washington Post
  • “The 10 Most Exciting Artists Now” — Entertainment Weekly
  • “100 Best Living Songwriters” — Paste Magazine

To listen in on samples of our Ritter favorites, we recommend the very Graceland-evocative track, Homecoming, off the new album, and an older favorite, Wait for Love, which finds Ritter in a echo-y, dreamy mood.

#MusicMonday highlights some of our favorite bands making a mark at the moment and is powered by our pals at The Orange Peel.

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NPO 100 Blue Ridge Pkwy

On August 25, the National Park Service (NPS) celebrates an important milestone: 100 years of the National Park Service Organic Act. Today, the NPS manages 401 park units and attendance hit a peak last year. While we’ve got easy access to two of the most visited units – the Blue Ridge Parkway (#1) and Great Smoky Mountains National Park (#4) – day hikes are only the beginning of adventures that can be had when you venture just beyond our community. Grab the car and the kids and head out for these weekend trips this spring or summer.

The Blue Ridge Parkway, dubbed “America’s Favorite Drive,” meanders for 469 miles and provides plenty of scenic driving, biking, and hiking in Buncombe County. Head over the Virginia border for a weekend and check out what The Commonwealth has to offer.

Stop off at the Blue Ridge Music Center near the town of Galax for music demonstrations, concerts, and a museum dedicated to old time mountain music. It’s set apart by focusing on local artists who best show the history of Appalachian music and not “the stars.”

Plan an overnight stay in Roanoke for shopping at City Market and dining at local favorites Local Roots or Billy’s. Make your way to Sherando Lake in George Washington National Forest for some hiking and camping the next day. You can spend your final day exploring the Shenandoah Valley, Humpback Rock, and Shenandoah National Park before heading back home.

Half Tank Getaways highlights some of our favorite places just outside of Buncombe County and is powered by our pals at Prestige Subaru.

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