Sept. 2, 2021, 10:36 a.m.

Top 5 Things to Do at the Historic Orchard at Altapass

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Is there anything that feels more like fall in the mountains than sipping a cup of steaming apple cider on a cool day, looking out over the layered peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains as spirited bluegrass music plays in the background?

Located on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 328.3, the Historic Orchard at Altapass welcomes visitors of all ages to experience the sights, sounds and flavors of Appalachian culture.

Built in the early 1900s by the Clinchfield Railroad, the orchard thrived for decades, producing as many 50,000 bushels a year in the 1930s. The end of passenger rail service in the area and the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway led to the orchard’s decline. The current owners purchased it in 1994 and transformed it into the cultural and educational destination it is today.

U-Pick Adventures, Live Music, & Butterflies

The orchard is open May through October each year and admission is free. The late summer and early fall months are a wonderful time to enjoy all that the century-old orchard has to offer.

Pick heirloom apples: More than 20 varieties of apples grow in the orchard, many of the trees planted by the original owners! Beginning around August, visitors can venture into the orchard to pick their own apples for $10 a half peck (about a gallon). Wear sturdy closed-toe shoes and look for signs designating which trees are ready to pick! Bagged apples are also available for purchase in the General Store.

U-pick apple adventures at the Orchard at Altapass

Listen to live music: On Saturdays and Sundays from June through October, head to the pavilion at 2:30 p.m. for free live performances by local musicians drawing on a long tradition of mountain music. Check our calendar of events for details.

Live music at the Orchard at Altapass

Browse the General Store: Take a step back in time as you shop for homemade treats such as jellies, jams, pickles, dips and fudge. Enjoy a slice of warm apple pie with a scoop of ice cream as you learn about area history, or challenge a friend to a game of checkers amid shelves of nostalgic toys and games.

Jars of pumpkin butter at the Orchard at Altapass

Hunt for monarch butterflies: These iconic pollinators pass through this area during their annual migration in early fall, and the Orchard at Altapass has dedicated efforts to cultivating beneficial plants and tagging migrating butterflies. Visit the education center to see the whole butterfly life cycle and learn more about these beautiful insects.

The butterfly garden at the Orchard at Altpass.

Fun for the whole family: Kids of all ages will enjoy lawn games, scavenger hunts and photo opps at the orchard. Older kids will love weekend storytelling (11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturdays on Sundays) when co-founder Bill tells about the legendary Battle of Kings Mountain and other tales from the area. And don’t miss the model train — a replica of the Clinchfield Railroad that established the orchard a century ago.

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