Did you know “North Carolina’s Oldest Travel Attraction” is hiding right among other, more well-known attractions? Maybe you do, because you’ve visited here before. You might have visited without even truly knowing the mystical history behind the place Ripley’s Believe It Or Not deemed “The only place in the world where snow falls upside down.”
The legend of Blowing Rock dates far beyond its 1933 establishment as "North Carolina's First Travel Attraction." It goes back almost 250 million years ago when the Blue Ridge Mountains were forming.
The metamorphic rocks that seem to jut out over cliffs are referred to by geologists as gneiss (pronounced "nice"). When the Blue Ridge was forming, strong pressure on the rock in the earth's crust produced many of the aesthetic features seen today at Blowing Rock. A U.S Geological survey says this gneiss in particular was formed 1,055 million years ago.
Away from science, Blowing Rock also has plenty of myths and legends. Most notably, the story of the Chickasaw Chieftain's daughter. Worried a white man was advancing on his daughter, he moved her to the remote location of Blowing Rock in care of a squaw mother. One day, she saw a brave Cherokee hunting - she shot a bow and arrow at him as a form of flirtation, and it worked; the two fell in love. One day, the sky grew red and the maiden and her brave love worried trouble was to come. She begged him not to leave, but torn by his duty, he leaped from the rock and into the woods. Heartbroken, she prayed daily to the Great Spirit, until one day, the sky reddened again and from the bottoms of the gorge her love returned - a gust of wind blew him back onto the rock. From that a day, a strong wind has blown upwards from the rock and this story is at least how some describe the strange phenomenon of Blowing Rock.
Today, Blowing Rock sits at a breathtaking 4,000 ft. above sea level. It dangles over Johns River Gorge located at 3,000 ft. Here, you'll notice a peculiar current of air that flows upward from the rock. Aside from the legend, science came back to prove it's caused by rocky walls of the gorge creating a flume which forcefully sweeps northwest wind. In layman's terms - if you were to stand on the rock and throw a light object (say a handkerchief), the object would not fall below but simply float or return to you.
Many tourists flock here for the breathtaking landscape completely unaware about the strange phenomenon. From the top of the rock you can see Hawksbill Mountain and Table Rock to the southwest. To the south, Grandfather Mountain and Mt. Mitchell.
Even after you're done admiring the landscape there's plenty to do...
Like visiting nearby Flat Top Manor AKA Moses Cone Manor. Built in 1901, the Colonial-Revival style architecture is breathtaking. At the Manor you'll find Parkway Craft Center, one of five Southern Highland Craft Guild shops. Browse handmade crafts by hundreds of local artists while also taking in just how gorgeous the Manor is.
Nearby, the small town of Blowing Rock offers peace and quiet. Home to just over 1,000 residents, it's one of the most popular retirement destinations in NC. The Main Street is lined with art galleries, craft shops, and places to stop in for a bite to eat. While the town is charming, the mountain views and setting are most beautiful. Nearby destinations like Grandfather Mountain are appealing, but a trip to Blowing Rock is one you won't forget.