The Blowing Rock claims to be "North Carolina's Oldest Travel Attraction." Visitor services opened in 1933 and The Blowing Rock started to become well known, but the geologic formation bearing the name has been here for eons. This is a cliffband of gneiss overhanging the rim of the Johns River Gorge. Steep topography funnels northwest wind into this tight valley, and it sweeps up the mountainside past the rock. Sometimes you can stand on the rock and let go of a light object like a handkerchief, but the wind will catch it and you can grab it back. Thus The Blowing Rock earns its name.
According to Native American legen, a Chickasaw maiden and a Cherokee brave lived here and fell in love, but one day a deep red sky warned the brave of trouble that he must face by returning to his tribe. Brokenhearted to leave his love, he tore himself away by leaping from the rock and disappering into the gorge below. The maiden mourned and prayed for days until the sky reddened again and a strong wind blew her love up from the valley and returned him to her.
You can learn the full story, and others about the region, by going to see The Blowing Rock for yourself. Regardless of how the wind is blowing, this is an amazing view over the Blue Ridge Mountains. Grandfather Mountain dominates the view to the west. To the southwest you can see Hawksbill, Table Rock, and Mount Mitchell far in the distance. Short trails lead to a few different viewing platforms. There are plenty of benches and tables to sit and enjoy this all-around beautiful place. The grounds are well kept with many types of trees, shrubs, and planted flowers, and the owners keep cute animals that you are likely to see. The cats are friendly and love to be petted, and turtles come out to sun beside the little lily pond. You can see pretty much everything in 15 minutes or so, but it's worth relaxing and spending more time here. Refreshments, souvenirs, and artwork are for sale, and the visitor center has brochures and displays about nearby destinations you can discover.