Leisure & Activities

During summertime there is hiking, whitewater rafting, fishing, and other activities. The largest lake in the area, Watauga Lake, is a favorite spot just 30 minutes away for boating, fishing and wake boarding.

In the winter the main activities are skiing and snowboarding. There are two slopes in the area: Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain. There was formerly a third, but in the winter of 2008-2009, Hawks' Nest became an all-tubing park, the largest in the Eastern United States.

The town has hosted the Woolly Worm festival over the third weekend of October since 1978.

Winter Sports

Banner Elk is the only town in North Carolina within five miles of two ski resorts. This unique location — between the state’s two largest ski resorts — makes Banner Elk the top ski town in North Carolina.

Beech Mountain Resort

Beech Mountain Resort is the highest ski area in the Eastern U.S., with a peak elevation of 5,506 feet. A unique aspect of Beech Mountain Resort is the alpine village at the base of the slopes. The village is home to ice skating, snow tubing, a two-story ski lodge, craft brewery, ski rental shops, outdoor fire pit, snack bar and a souvenir store. Mountain Resort

Sugar Mountain Resort

North Carolina’s largest ski area is Sugar Mountain Resort. Sugar also boasts the only double black diamond slope in North Carolina, as well as the largest vertical drop (1,200 feet) in the state.

Hawksnest Snow Tubing

Hawksnest is home to the East Coast’s largest snow tubing park for those who wish to play in the snow, and a special Snowbird Zipline Tour for those who want to fly through the air. Hawksnest is open seven days a week throughout winter (weather permitting) with sessions lasting one hour and 45 minutes.


A visit to Banner Elk comes with an amazing array of activities. The town is geographically positioned to take advantage of all there is to see and do in the High Country of North Carolina.

Tweetsie Railroad

Trains are the stars of this Wild West theme park. Located between Boone and Blowing Rock, Tweetsie Railroad has entertained families with old-fashioned fun since 1957.

Grandfather Mountain

Grandfather Mountain is a popular tourist attraction located atop one of the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The mountain has 11 hiking trails, varying in difficulty from an easy stroll in a meadow or woodland to a rugged trek up challenging terrain. Interpretive rangers are available year-round to lead guided hikes, bird walks and wildflower walks for groups and families. As you hike the trails, you’ll see birds, squirrels and other forest creatures.

Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster

Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is North Carolina’s first alpine roller coaster, providing thrilling outdoor adventure in Banner Elk.
Guests navigate the track in individual carts that are designed to accommodate up to two people.


The High Country definitely has something for everyone. There are a myriad of festival, annual events and enough arts and culture to please the most discriminating of tastes.

Oktoberfest at Sugar Mountain

Always the second weekend in October

Sugar Mountain Resort brings a taste of Bavaria to North Carolina’s High Country each fall with its Oktoberfest celebration. This two-day, family-friendly event features Bavarian music, a Bavarian costume contest, great food, regional artists, a children’s fun area and barrels of Oktoberfest beverages for partaking.

A Small Town Christmas

Always the first weekend in December

Create lasting memories during a special weekend filled with traditional holiday activities. A Small Town Christmas in Banner Elk begins Friday evening with the lighting of the town tree and a holiday play performed by Ensemble Stage at the Historic Banner Elk School.

Woolly Worm Festival

Always the third weekend in October

Since 1978, this quirky, world-famous festival has been used to predict the upcoming winter weather for the North Carolina High Country.
According to legend, the 13 bands on the woolly worm (woolly bear caterpillar) represent the 13 weeks of winter. Brown bands indicate a mild week, black bands indicate a cold, snowy week

Excited to see what the area has to offer?