In Burnsville, N.C., both the only town and county seat of Yancey County, you won’t find a lot of the things that often come to wealthier places – high-rise buildings, avenues of McMansions, also gridlock traffic and the noise of honking horns.
What you will find in this small, mountain town and its surrounding area are great riches in nature and art.
Indeed, Yancey County is the most mountainous county in North Carolina, having within its boundaries five of the highest peaks in eastern America, including Mount Mitchell, which, at 6,684 feet, is the highest point east of the Mississippi. Amid these peaks lie not only diverse forests, nationally protected land and a host of small communities, but a population that is thick with artists.
You cannot roam far without encountering an artist, public work of art, mural, artist studio or gallery. Scattered around the county, you will see the work of woodworkers, glassblowers, potters, metalsmiths, weavers, quilters, basketmakers, painters, sculptors, papermakers, photographers and more. Everywhere you look there is nature inspiring art.
Visitors will delight in the local galleries such as the downtown Burnsville Toe River Arts Council (TRAC) Gallery. Stop in at One of a Kind Art Gallery in nearby Micaville, N.C. Call ahead to visit artists in their studios/galleries. Many of them, including Potter, Claudia Dunaway and mixed-media artist John Richards at Yummy Mud Puddle, as well as glassblower Rob Levin welcome visitors to enjoy a behind-the-scenes look and see their work.
Plan ahead to take part in the Toe River Studio Tour held twice annually in June and December. Save a lazy afternoon to drive through the Mount Mitchell Scenic Byway Quilt Trail.
Art takes the stage at the Parkway Playhouse where the 2015 season is in full swing. Coming up are performances of All Shook Up, Red, and The Glass Menagerie. Many artistic events and festivals take place in Burnsville’s town square.
Cooler summertime temperatures prevail and make Yancey County the perfect place for hiking, camping, mountain biking, gem hunting, and, of course, cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway which defines the county’s southeastern border.
Night-sky enthusiasts will want to make their way to theMayland Community College Blue Ridge Star Park, the first star park in the southeastern United States certified by the International Dark-Sky Association. Construction is under way for an observatory building which will house the largest telescope in the Southeast in dark skies dedicated for public use. Completion is expected this winter.
Burnsville’s bed and breakfast inns offer all the comforts of home. Remarkable among them is the Terrell House Inn where six individually decorated rooms and a scrumptious breakfast awaits – the homemade cinnamon bread makes every morning special. There is a history lesson in every room of the NuWray Inn, North Carolina’s oldest operating inn. The rockers on the long front porch overlook the town square and, on weekends, family style southern meals are offered to guests and the public.