Tour North Carolina

North Carolina

June 2015

I wouldn’t say North Carolina is fat, but it is wide.  No other state on this side of the Mississippi River is this wide, 560 miles from one end to the other, west to east.  By comparison, it’s only slightly narrower than the wide open ranging state of Montana.

It’s easy to think of the Tar Heel state as dividing into three divisions.  They would be the Coastal Plain, the Piedmont and the Mountain Region.

The eastern section, the Coastal Plain, is flat and not very high.  Its eastern border is defined by the Atlantic Ocean and by popular tourist attractions such as the famous Outer Banks, a major draw with tons of beachfront property.  Most of us have heard of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Cape Fear, Ocracoke Island which was the home of Edward Teach, bka Blackbeard, the wild horses and Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk, where the Wright brothers flew their first controlled, powered, heavier-than-air vehicle.  The Outer Banks is also home to more than 500 wrecked ships which occupy low rent areas on the ocean floor.

The central section of North Carolina is called the Piedmont.  Here you will find baby mountains, ranging up to 1500 feet in elevation.  Piedmont from the Latin pedemontium, is French for “foot of the mountain” or “foothills.”

Western North Carolina is the Mountain region.  I don’t have favorites, but this is my favorite part of the state.  Hundreds and hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails lace throughout this area, ten major rivers flow here, some with the best names:  the French Broad, the Nolichucky, the Hiawassee and the New Rivers.  Forty-three mountain peaks rise up over 6000 feet.  If you are from the western U S, 6000 feet may not seem like much, but these are the highest mountains on this side of the country.  We’re proud of ‘em.

This mountainous region has been called the “Land of the Sky” and the “High Country.”  We’ve got the Blue Ridge Mountains defining the Continental Divide here, and the Great Smoky Mountains, the most visited national park in the country.  It’s likely that these Appalachian Mountains are the oldest mountains in the nation and close to the oldest in the world.  Woof!  There are also some attractive, fun cities here and there, if it’s people you want.

In such a diverse state as North Carolina, wherever will we find the high point!

I don’t know, let’s try the Mountain region.  That’s my bet.

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