We visited Blowing Rock in September 2023, as part of our Five Days in the Mountains trip. Read about our first visit way back in 2016 on Big Trip #1 here, and we also popped over from Boone in May 2021 and August 2021.
As a recap, by this point in our trip we’d spent a night in Fayetteville, WV and a night in Boone. Originally, we’d planned on two nights in Boone, thinking we’d just drive the 20 minutes over to Blowing Rock on day 2 for a bit of hiking and wandering around town. Instead, on day 2 we decided to move our entire household to the NPS campground just up the hill from downtown Blowing Rock where we stayed at the very end of Big Trip #1 in 2016.
Blowing Rock is Boone’s smaller, posher neighbor; the main draw for us is that it’s closer to hiking off the Blue Ridge Parkway. I’d say there’s better beer in Boone and better cocktails in Blowing Rock, and good food in both. If you want a commercial campground, you’ll be in Boone, and if you want to boondock in the trees, head to Blowing Rock.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is just up the hill from downtown Blowing Rock; drive a couple miles west on the Parkway and you’ll arrive at a big, beautiful, NPS-managed campground. Julian Price Campground is adjacent to Price Lake, is crossed by a couple hiking trails, and offers almost 200 campsites. About half the sites allow RVs, but the sites are pretty small, so depending on your rig you may want to head straight for loops E and F for the best selection.
After hiking in the hills and walking around town a bit, we spent the evening by a campfire at our site and it was so peaceful. My notes sum it up nicely: “super super glad we came up here.” A word of warning, though: some of the campsites are quite close together, so check your picnic/fire pit area to make sure you won’t be on top of your neighbor if you care about seclusion.
We did three hikes, all of which are very close to Julian Price. We’d done them all before, and while they’re not spectacular, they’re convenient and pleasant.
The Green Knob trail cuts through the lower section of Julian Price Campground–how’s that for convenience? It’s a nice little 2.3-mile loop with road noise from the parkway and no real vistas, but a pretty creek, huge rhododendrons, and no other people on the September weekday we visited.
The loop around Price Lake is a lovely, easy 2.25 miles just up the road from Julian Price. If you’re not in a hiking mood, you can rent a canoe or kayak and have a paddle or an angle.
Flat Top Tower trail to vista
This is our usual go-to hike in Blowing Rock, but in the interest of time (we wanted a quick hike the morning we left town) we turned around at the main vista, for a total of about two miles.
Blowing Rock has a sweet, walkable downtown area with an interesting collection of shops and food/drink establishments. Our favorite places to patronize include:
The Spice and Tea Exchange where we bought way too much spices and teas (duh)
Hellbender for cocktails and food. We picked up a delicious carryout dinner to eat by our campfire, and hit them again in the morning for breakfast biscuits to fuel our Flat Top hike. If we didn’t have our own home on wheels, we’d probably stay at their B&B.
To complement our Hellbender biscuits, we grabbed coffee at Camp Coffee Roasters. What a cozy, adorable outdoors-themed coffee shop! Their baked goods looked tasty and they also sell breakfast biscuits–might need to try them next time to compare to Hellbender!
After a whirlwind couple days in NC, we left for a night in Tennessee!