The Catawba Falls trail is closed until spring of 2024. Click here to find alternative waterfall and hiking trails.

June 28, 2023, 4:22 p.m.

Rainy Day Adventures in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Hikers at Mount Mitchell

When you look out your window and see nothing but rainy skies, it’s easy to consider it a lost day of vacation. But there is actually plenty of fun still to be had in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here’s our guide to rainy day adventures.

Historic Carson House

The Arts and History

The Blue Ridge Mountains has a flourishing art scene, and Marion is a perfect place to start. The McDowell Arts Council offers a wide variety of handcrafted goods from local artists showcasing their pottery, woodworking, paintings, sculpture and photographs. The featured artists rotate every month, so each time you visit will be a unique experience. Also check out their Foothills Community Theater for entertaining shows and performances.

You also can’t miss the Historic Carson House, a 2-story mansion built in the 1700s. The Carson Family’s memories offer a glimpse into life through their experiences in the NC Gold Rush, Native American struggle, slavery and plantation life, and both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.

Nearby Old Fort is home to the Mountain Gateway Museum that focuses on Southern Appalachian and Western North Carolina history. Learn about traditional crafts, such as spinning and weaving, as well as unique displays of folk medicine moonshining.

Copper Creek Moonshine

Adult Refreshments

Now that you’ve studied the art of moonshining, it’s time to try some! The Copper Creek Distillery in Marion offers free tastings. But if you want more than a sample, they offer 9 distinct moonshines made with recipes that date back to owners Berry and Shuford’s roots in the mountains of Yancy County.

If moonshine’s not your thing, chase away the rainy-day blues with a flight of brews at Mica Town Brewing. Featuring carefully crafted beer, cider and spirits inspired by the geology and hardworking people of Western North Carolina. Mica is a mineral once used as currency and steeped in local history.

Little Switzerland Books and Beans McDowell County

Shopping

Shopping like the locals is another experience perfectly suited for gray, wet skies. The Vintage Market specializes in repurposed and vintage items, including some singular antiques. The longer you stroll around, the more treasures you’ll find.

Flavors on Main General Store is another interesting shopping experience. They offer a wide range of camping and fishing gear, but they also focus on specialty foods. Shop for North Carolina-made oils, vinegar and sauces and then pick up some chocolates, cheese, and grits as souvenirs of your Blue Ridge Mountain vacation.

Hot Wheelz in Marion

Indoor Fun

Downtown Marion brings traditionally outdoor fun indoors with the Hot Wheelz skating rink. Burn off some energy, then explore the rest of the indoor mall with retail shops, restaurants, and specialty stores, like Chance of Sprinkles Bake Shop, perfectly named for a rainy-day treat.

Tom's Creek Falls in McDowell County

Waterfall Hiking

If you’re going to get wet anyway, why not do some outdoor exploring? The Blue Ridge Mountains are known for their exceptional hikes and waterfalls, but exploring them in the rain can be slippery and dangerous. We’ve got you covered with hikes that can be tackled safely in rain or shine.

Roaring Fork Falls in the Pisgah National Forest cascades down 50 feet of mossy rock into the awaiting pool. You reach the waterfall via an easy, half-mile trail over a flat forest service road. The best part is that the waterfall is even more spectacular in a heavy rain when the gently flowing water becomes a thundering torrent.

Tom's Creek Falls is accessed by an easy hike that takes about 16 minutes to complete. The trail stays relatively dry, because it was built using viaducts that channel the water away from the trail. View the spectacular falls from a rough-hewn wooden bridge that passes just a few feet above the cascades.

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