You're Invited: Join the movement to protect our beloved, shared outdoor spaces.

Sept. 23, 2022, 1:42 p.m.

Brown Mountain Lights — A Blue Ridge Mystery

Brown Mountain Lights

Move over, Bigfoot — there’s more than one unexplained phenomenon in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The Brown Mountain Lights are said to be ghost lights that appear over North Carolina’s Brown Mountain in Pisgah National Forest, not far from the Linville Gorge. Sightings of the Brown Mountain Lights have been reported for more than 100 years, with some saying they look like stars and others like glowing orbs that may move or float above the ridge and can appear in many colors.

Government researchers who investigated the Brown Mountain Lights attributed them to train headlights or newly electrified homes situated on the ridge, and others have suggested various natural explanations such as brushfires or bioluminescence. But these explanations have not satisfied those who believe something more mysterious is at play.

News reports in the early 1900s linked the lights to several spooky explanations: that they are the lanterns of Cherokee maidens searching for fallen warriors or the ghosts of Civil War soldiers or the lights from visiting aliens’ UFOs. There was even a 1999 episode of the hit paranormal TV drama The X-Files based on the lights!

Brown Mountain

There are a few popular spots for those brave enough to try to spy the Brown Mountain Lights for themselves.

  • Brown Mountain Overlook is located on NC-181, about 15 minutes from the Linville Falls Community.
  • You can also visit Wiseman’s View (named for Fate Wiseman, who reportedly saw the lights in the 1850s) in Linville Gorge. From the Linville Falls Community, drive south on NC Hwy 183 for about one mile until you see the large Linville Gorge sign on your right. Keep to the right to continue on Kistler Memorial Highway (also known as old NC Hwy 105). Drive four miles to the Wiseman's View parking area. You’ll find two observation areas at the end of a short paved trail. Choose the deck with the eastern view of the ridge between Hawksbill and Table Rock — and be sure you bring your own light!

Fall is supposedly one of the better times to see the Brown Mountain Lights — especially after a rain — the mysterious ghost lights remain elusive year round.