Category: Events

Check Out Rhododendron Ramble at Grandfather Mountain

One of my favorite activities this time of year is scampering over to Grandfather Mountain to see the rhododendrons in bloom.

Those of us who call the High Country home know that no plant signifies the arrival of summer in the mountains quite like the vivid pink Catawba rhododendron. And no place has any prettier rhododendrons than Grandfather Mountain!

My good friends at Grandfather Mountain showcase the amazing blooms each year with the Remarkable Rhododendron Ramble. This year it takes place from June 1-9 and we love to make it a part of the Beech Mountain Family Fun Month activities!

“Rhododendron are special because they are attention-grabbing,” says Amy Renfranz, director of education, at Grandfather Mountain. “So many of us get lost in our smartphones, calendars and the rush of modern life. Brightly colored rhododendrons compete for our attention — and often win.”

To showcase the beauty and significance of this native plant, Grandfather Mountain naturalists host daily 1:00 p.m. guided strolls to see the blooms from June 1-8. The Rhododendron Ramble concludes on June 9 with a native plant festival and multiple hikes.

The daily hikes (June 1-8) allow visitors to observe the blooms and learn from naturalists about their history, characteristics and roles they play in the mountain’s ecological communities.

The Rhododendron Ramble culminates June 9 with a full day of activities, including information about native plants, plant nurseries, kids’ craft activities and presentations by botanists.

The Rhododendron Ramble activities are free with park admission to Grandfather Mountain, and the Beech Mountain Visitor Center has discount tickets available.

For discount ticket details, call 800-468-5506.

Yours Truly,
Boomer the Squirrel

 

Yippee! June Family Fun Month Brings 30 Days of Activities

June is almost upon us, and you know what that means up here on Beech Mountain? It’s Family Fun Month!

For 30 days we celebrate spending time together as a family unit with hiking, mountain biking, flying kites, picnicking, watching movies under the stars and even playing pickleball.

My cousin Darryl is coming from Raleigh, and my other cousin Darryl is coming from Charlotte. We’re super excited about Friday field days, which are new this year. Every Friday afternoon, the field beside Brick Oven Pizzeria will be full of bounce houses and all kinds of games. After all the fun and games, there’ll be a free outdoor concert and a movie under the stars. Sounds like my kind of Friday night.

I was chatting with my buddy Kate Gavenus at the Beech Mountain Visitors Center, and she said one thing that makes traveling to Beech Mountain so great is how inexpensive it is.

“When you’re spending less money, that reduces stress,” Gavenus says. “We don’t have many commercial activities on Beech Mountain, so people spend time hiking, fishing and canoeing, which are all affordable, relaxing things to do.”

We squirrels don’t worry much about money, but we sure know a relaxed human when we see one; they’re always smiling and laughing. We see lots of those carefree humans up here on Beech Mountain.

Another attractive characteristic of Beech Mountain in the summer is the beeee-u-ti-ful weather. Darryl and Darryl are always complaining about how hot and sticky it is in Raleigh and Charlotte, but up here at 5,506 feet, we have days in the 70s and nights in the 50s.

“Summer is when nature really nurtures humanity on this mountain,” Gavenus says.

I like the sound of that — nature and humans all in sync for the summer!

If you plan to bring your family up the mountain in June — And why wouldn’t you? — make sure you take advantage of awesome lodging specials offered by our friendly accommodations, like stay two nights and get a third night free. We have everything from a one bedroom suite for a small family to big ol’ cabins to hold the whole crew of grandparents, aunts and uncles.

So I expect to see you and the family on Beech Mountain this June! For complete Family Fun Month details, click here

Yours truly,
Boomer the Squirrel

Hey Cyclists, the Beech Mountain Metric is a Doozy!

We’ve reached that time of year when spring fever takes hold. Old Man Winter releases his grip, the trees start to pop with bright green leaves, and we squirrels and humans become more active.

One of the big events up here on the mountain — the fifth annual Beech Mountain Metric — returns Saturday, May 19. Clocking in at 61 miles with 8,000 feet of climbing, the Metric is a doozy of a ride and requires some serious cycling skills.

The Beech Mountain Metric starts in Banner Elk, our neighboring town down the mountain. The route circles north of Beech Mountain, joining up with the Elk River and Watauga River. Clearings along the way offer views of our beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Some of my animal buddies make appearances, like fellow squirrels, black bears and deer.

The route circles back to Banner Elk before making the final climb up the switchbacks to Beech Mountain. The finish line lies in downtown Beech Mountain, and you can bet there will be a crowd of our friendly residents, volunteers and visitors there to celebrate with you.

An interesting side note: the famed ascent up Beech Mountain was often the closing stage for the Tour DuPont, which featured riders like Lance Armstrong, and Lance came back to Beech Mountain to train on that ascent in preparation for his first victory in the Tour de France.

For less-experienced riders – or those looking for a lighter challenge – a secondary route travels 43 miles with a mere 5,600 feet of climbing.

After all that effort, I say you should make a Beech Mountain weekend of it by staying in one of our condos, cabins lodges or inns. If your friends want to come and ride together, our accommodations work great for groups.

Several properties offer discounts, such as 10 percent off, 20 percent off, or stay three nights for the price of two. Local restaurants know cyclists will be ready to refuel after the big ride, so they’re offering discounts, too. For discount lodging, click here.

Online registration is open, and the ride is limited to 300 participants. So if you’re up for the challenge on May 19, go ahead and register now.

I look forward to seeing you pedaling up Beech Mountain soon!

Yours truly,
Boomer the Squirrel

New Restaurant Features Tasty Helpings of Comfort Food

Here in Eastern America’s highest town, our guests like a cozy spot to relax and refuel after a day of outdoor adventure.

We have some of the tastiest restaurants, friendliest pubs and comfiest accommodations anywhere in the High Country, and this bloggin’ squirrel is here to tell ya that Beech Mountain’s newest addition, Beech Mountain Grille, fits right into that cozy, comforting niche.

Beech Mountain Grille is located in the heart of town, just an acorn’s throw across the street from Fred’s General Mercantile in the former location of Vasarely’s. Owners Lance and Misty Hurd purchased the property this past fall and made quick work freshening the space and planning their menu in time for a November opening.

Everybody says Misty’s homemade meatloaf, flecked with red and yellow bell pepper, beats the socks off most meatloaves they’ve tried before. She drew inspiration from her grandmother Josephine for the yummy chicken and dumplings, while the homemade chili is Lance’s handiwork.

On the sides menu, don’t miss the creamy mac-and-cheese and green beans prepared with caramelized onions and bacon. Save room for a mudslide sundae, piece of Oreo pie or pecan pie. I just go nuts for her pecan pie!

The furnishings have been updated, while the restaurant’s signature wood paneling and rock fireplace remain. The circular, living-room-style bar off the side of the dining room naturally collects groups of friends, couples on date nights and locals hanging out after work.

One of the most impressive sights — other than that big bowl of chicken and dumplings and piece of pie a la mode — is the view from Beech Mountain Grille’s front windows. The restaurant looks directly onto the ski slopes at Beech Mountain Resort. Diners watch skiers and snowboarders glide down the mountain, as they reminisce about their day and make plans for tomorrow.

So, I’m here to tell you, give Beech Mountain Grille a try next time you’re in town. And, make sure to tell them Boomer sent ya!

 

Yours truly,
Boomer the Squirrel

Funnest Sledding Hill in North Carolina is Back with New Upgrades

Yippee! The Beech Mountain sledding hill — one of my favorite town traditions — is open and ready for the kiddos.

The free youth sledding hill is a one-of-a-kind experience that our friendly town is proud to offer to locals and guests. This past offseason, the town made improvements to the hill, so it’s even more fun (and safe) this winter.

Grading work provided a longer place to stop at the bottom. New pads, like the ones used over at the ski resort, eliminate any bump ups along the sides or at the base of the hill.

The hill now has two lanes, one for tiny tikes and one for older kids. I’m still working on getting a lane just for squirrels!

This year the hill will have more consistent snow coverage thanks to a better water supply from the town’s snazzy new water treatment plant. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that good ole Mother Nature keeps piling on the white stuff, too.

Kids need plastic sleds for the sledding hill. They can bring their own or buy or rent one from a local store.

Parents are allowed to accompany younger kids on the hill. Once the kids have the hang of it, observers can watch from the seats in the Visitor Center lobby.

If you get chilly, step across the street to the pizzeria for a cup of hot cocoa. Or warm up in the Visitor Center, use the restroom and post those sledding hill photos to Facebook and Instagram using the complimentary Wi-Fi. Make sure you tag Beech Mountain. We love seeing all the kids’ smiling faces.

As weather allows, the sledding hill will be open until late February or early March. Check conditions anytime by calling 800-468-5506. Weekday hours are 1 p.m.-5 p.m., and weekend hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Bundle up the kids and grab the sleds, a snowy afternoon of fun and laughter awaits up here on Beech Mountain!

Yours truly,
Boomer the Squirrel