Western North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains are known for amazing hiking, spectacular waterfalls, and vast long-range mountain views. Visitors flock to the area in the summer months for the cooler temps and in the fall for the beautiful changing of the leaves. But did you know it's also a popular place to visit in the Winter?
The winter months offer a completely different experience for the mountain lover. The trees have lost their leaves which means you can see things you wouldn't be able to see at other times of the year. There are many places where unbelievable views are normally obstructed by the lush mountain foliage. In the winter months, it's as if a veil has been removed to reveal breathtaking vistas and surprises around every corner!
If you're lucky enough to catch a snowfall during your mountain getaway, the trees and laurel turn into natural works of art as the bare branches and evergreens collect the snow and ice. The stark contrast between the white snow and the black streets makes the landscape seem almost artificial. It's as if you're living in a black and white world absent of any color. Although Jackson County and the neighborhood Property Owners Associations do a really good job of keeping the roads in good shape before, during, and after snowfall events, having a 4WD vehicle is certainly recommended in the winter.
In addition to the beautiful scenery, the winter months also provide exceptional recreational opportunities for the mountain-goer. As if the hiking wasn't already amazing in the summer and fall, the winter adds an extra element of wow. Waterfalls become living ice sculptures that reflect the sunlight and create a magnificent spectacle of nature. The picture above is of Silver Run Falls in nearby Cashiers, NC. Water seeping through the cracks in the granite mountain faces often freeze displaying gigantic ice cycles and frozen walls of ice. Be sure to check out the sheer granite face on Highway 64 between Sapphire and Cashiers during the freezing months which turns the entire mountainside into a frozen spectacle.
In the winter months, hiking trails provide a completely different experience compared to when the trees are full of leaves. You'll discover hidden rock faces, streams, and waterfalls that aren't always visible in the spring and summer so be prepared for amazing new photo ops. Be sure to revisit the trails you've already traversed for an amazing alternative adventure.
Another popular way to spend a day (or two, or three) in Sapphire is at Ski Sapphire Valley. Enjoy your time skiing, tubing, and snow boarding with friends and family. The resort offers a bunny slope for beginners and a blue slope for more experienced skiers/snow boarders. You'll also be able to rent skis, boards, and accessories so don't stress about bringing that stuff with you. The "Frozen Falls" snow tubing is extremely popular and fun for the whole family so be sure to make your reservations early- they can only accommodate so many people at a time each day. No snow in the forecast? No Problem! Ski Sapphire Valley has new state-of-the-art snow-making equipment that can make several feet of snow in just a few hours overnight, providing there are freezing temperatures. Here's some more good news- guests of Once Upon a Stream and Top of the Rock will enjoy a 25% discounted rate at Ski Sapphire Valley!
Are you the brave and adventurous type? Better yet, are your kids? If so, then you'll want to give the Vordach Zip Line and canopy tour a try. Zip high above the ground from towering tree to tree and traverse across Frozen Falls and the tubers below. The Vordach is open year-round but again, availability is limited so make your reservations in advance. Learn more about the Vordach Zip Line here. Our guests also enjoy a 25% discount on zipping.
After a cold day playing out in the snow, be sure to finish it off at the Sapphire Valley Recreation Center adjacent to the ski resort. Warm up in the indoor heated pool, hot tub, and saunas. Lockers and showers are also available so pack a change of clothes. There's even an arcade and game room with pool and ping pong for the kids (and adults) to enjoy.
Overall, we find the winter months to be quite delightful in the mountains. It's a slower pace and quieter time in Sapphire because it's outside the "season." So enjoy having more of the place to yourself! As always, please message us with questions and feel free to comment below. We hope to help you plan a mountain getaway very soon.