Last Updated on September 20, 2023
Last Updated on September 20, 2023
The Blowing Rock is one of North Carolina‘s oldest tourist attractions, known for its glorious views and tons of fun!
You can enter Blowing Rock from US 321, across the road from the Green Park Inn, and about two miles from Main St in downtown Blowing Rock. This is one of our favorite places to visit in the High Country and should belong on everyone’s bucket list of things to do in North Carolina!
This attraction is just too iconic to leave off our list (and our book). Inside this guide, we’ll share the history of the Blowing Rock, along with what you’ll find after turning off US 321.
Here’s how we’ve organized this article:
- The Blowing Rock Quick Guide for Visitors
- Visiting the Blowing Rock Today
- Things to Do
- Annual Events
- More Things to Do Nearby (Related Posts)
Read More: Things to Do in Blowing Rock
The Blowing Rock Quick Guide for Visitors
- Address: 432 The Rock Rd, Blowing Rock, NC 28605 (Watauga County)
- Website: theblowingrock.com
- Mostly Wheelchair Accessible.
- Events: Blowing Rock Music Festival, Shagging at the Rock, Weddings, and Private Events.
- January to March: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays.
- April to October: 8:30 am to 6:30 pm.
- November and December: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Note: All hours are weather permitting. Please contact them in advance before visiting. Their phone number is 828-295-7111.
- Adults (Ages 13 and Up): $9 (Summer Price) / $7 (Winter Price)
- Students (ID Required): $8/$7
- Seniors (60+) & Military: $7/$6
- Children (Ages 5 to 12): $3/$2
- Children Under Age 5: FREE
A lot of the information we will share about the Blowing Rock comes from an interview we conducted with Charlie Sellers. The multi-generational owner and lifelong resident of the High Country and then-Blowing Rock Mayor, Charlie knows pretty much everything about the area.
Original History of Blowing Rock NC
The Blowing Rock is known formerly by the US Geological Survey as The Blowing Rock Gneiss (pronounced “Nice”). Through vigorous examination, it’s determined to be a one-billion-year-old metamorphic rock from the Middle Proterozoic geological age.
Millions of years of the Blue Ridge Mountains rising, followed by even more years of pressure, weathering, and erosion, granted The Blowing Rock its current features and shape. It hangs over Johns River Gorge which sits about 3,000 feet below.
The Blowing Rock Legend
According to Charlie Sellers, the famous legend surrounding the Blowing Rock was written in the late 1800s.
Based on this legend, a Native American chieftain raised his daughter on the cliff to protect her from European settlers. One day, she saw something down in the valley and shot an arrow nearby to get its attention.
It ended up being a Cherokee Brave, a problem as she was a member of the Chickasaw tribe. These two tribes did not get along very well but the Chickasaw princess and the Brave became lovers.
Later on, the Brave saw an omen in the sky signaling that his tribe needed him to return. He didn’t want to go and decided to jump from the Blowing Rock to avoid his responsibilities.
Grief-stricken, his lover prayed and prayed until he blew back into her arms.
“The Blowing Rock” Name
While that story never happened, the idea of it is still rooted in some reality. The Blowing Rock’s size, position high above Johns River Gorge, and the rocky walls of said gorge work together to create fairly strong updrafts of wind.
In fact, these updrafts are strong enough to return light objects (including snow) that fall into the gorge. Charlie told us that they’ve recorded updrafts as strong as 135 miles per hour, resulting in the Blowing Rock name.
Becoming a Tourist Attraction
As mentioned, the Blowing Rock is regarded as the oldest travel attraction in North Carolina. Its popularity is attributed to the rock’s age, as there are few other ventures, such as Chimney Rock, that predate the Blowing Rock.
In 1933, Charlie’s grandfather Grover C Robbins convinced the land’s owners to lease it to the state and transform it into a tourist attraction. Robbins also served as the mayor of Blowing Rock and is regarded by many as North Carolina’s “Father of Tourism.”
Visiting the Blowing Rock Today
Nearly 90 years later, Blowing Rock still remains a must-visit place in North Carolina.
The grounds are wheelchair accessible, while a few of the nature trails are not. This is also one of the few privately owned attractions that allow pets (leash required) to tag along!
Things to Do at The Blowing Rock
When you arrive and pay your admission fee (see our quick guide for details), we recommend browsing the gift shop first and then moving on to the rest of the complex. It’ll take you roughly 20 minutes to walk through the entire attraction.
In case you’d like to take a souvenir home, the Blowing Rock has two gift shops packed with items mostly made in the USA.
Museum at the Annex
There’s a small museum that exhibits old photos and articles about the history of the area as well as precious gemstones found nearby.
Near the observation tower, a few picnic tables are available for you to kick back and enjoy a picnic while taking in the stunning views! If you find yourself hungry, there is a snack shop with ice cream, drinks, and more refreshments for you to enjoy.
Speaking of which, exceptional views for hundreds of miles await you at Blowing Rock! To the west, you’ll see Grandfather Mountain, our tallest peak Mount Mitchell, much of Pisgah National Forest, as well as winding Johns River Gorge.
On the eastern end, you can enjoy similarly gorgeous scenery. If you visit during a clear day in the winter, you may even be able to see the outlines of the high-rises in downtown Charlotte.
The Blowing Rock’s observation tower looms over the Johns River Gorge. It may intimidate those with a fear of heights, but the views make the height worth it!
Trails at The Blowing Rock
Want to get your heart rate up? The Robbins Ridge Trail snakes along the mountain into the gorge. There is a warning that the trail is not suited for children or those who aren’t up to the challenge.
There are more than 150 stairs and descends quickly. But the views are absolutely worth the climb back up!
There are two notable music festivals held at the Blowing Rock each year, described in more detail before. First, we should mention that the Blowing Rock is an amazing destination to get married!
You’re also able to host special events at the Blowing Rock, with more information available through this request form.
Blowing Rock Music Festival
The Blowing Rock’s annual music festival is normally held in September, a wonderful showcase of Bluegrass and Americana. More than a few local acts fill the rest of the festival, making it a must-attend for music lovers.
Shagging at the Rock
For an afternoon in June, Shagging at the Rock brings beach music to the mountains! The fun usually kicks off at around noon and runs all day through the evening. Visit for a reminder of the beach even while in western NC!
Ready to Visit the Blowing Rock?
A visit to the Blowing Rock is as much a prerequisite for exploring Western North Carolina as other icons like Biltmore Estate or the aforementioned Chimney Rock. The mix of physics magic and long history are enough to draw anyone to this place, but those views of the Johns River Gorge are what keep us coming back for more!
If you’ve visited the Blowing Rock, we’d love to know about your experiences. Let us know in the comments or by email and keep the conversation going. In case you haven’t made it out here yet, we hope you do soon!