Welcome to Ashe County, NC
Ashe County is located in the northwestern most part of the state with just slightly over 27,000 full-time residents. You will find our county provides the quiet, calm and privacy of good country living while still affording residents ample opportunity to engage in shopping conveniences, annual events and plenty of recreation.
Take advantage of the heritage of the North Carolina’s high country by enjoying the unique and charming dining and shopping venues that are offered in towns like West Jefferson, Jefferson, Todd and Lansing. Revitalized and capitalizing on centuries of tradition, these towns are quickly becoming renowned for their fine, folk and primitive art, hand-hewn crafts and veritable treasure trove of antiques. Steeped in tradition, the county also offers a lengthy calendar of annual events including concert series and musical competitions, theatre, community and civic events as well as many performing arts presentations.
Ashe County is steeped in Appalachian culture and history. The land is truly awe-inspiring where scenic vistas abound on mile after mile of leisurely country roads. Gleaming rivers and mountain streams run the course of the county making it a prime location for those who love to surround themselves in the tranquility of nature.
Ashe County is a place just waiting to be called home.
Ashe County Towns
West Jefferson, NC
Incorporated in 1909, West Jefferson, NC, steeped in historical significance having been a major depot for the Norfolk and Western Railroad during the height of textile industrialism. Revitalized over the last several decades, West Jefferson has quickly resurged to offer a renewed mountain culture holding fast to its traditional roots. Roots such as Ashe County Cheese, North Carolina’s oldest cheese plant in operation for 85 years.
This charming mountain town is lined with unique restaurants, galleries, quaint shops and boutiques. The town is pedestrian friendly with a designated arts district, operating art deco theatre, a back street park, mural art and green spaces. The town itself sponsors “Music in the Park” every Friday evening during the summer months and the Ashe County Arts Council supports a “Gallery Crawl” throughout the arts district one Friday evening each month.
Annual events abound such as the Christmas in July Festival, Antiques Fair, and Antique Car Shows, to name a few. Local establishments provide weekly music and entertainment venues both inside and out.
Noted as having been one of the first towns in the United States to bear the name of Thomas Jefferson, Jefferson, NC, created by special commission of the NC General Assembly in 1799, upon the purchase of a fifty-acre tract of land. Now the seat for Ashe County government and its municipal centers, Jefferson is home to the Ashe County Historical Museum as well as Ashe Memorial Hospital, significant for its award winning facilities and medical services. Jefferson offers unique shops, dining, State Parks and recreational facilities for all ages.
Glendale Springs, NC
Just a short drive from West Jefferson and adjoining the Blue Ridge Parkway, sits the small village of Glendale Springs, NC. The famous Glendale Springs Inn, listed as one of the registered Historic Places in Ashe County, is located nearby off the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is one of the few Victorian Queen Anne homes still standing in North Carolina. The Inn has served many famous people including former U.S. Presidents, Vice-Presidents and dignitaries.
Also of significance are the renowned frescoes of Ben Long featured on the walls of the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Glendale Springs. His works can also be seen in St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in West Jefferson.
Todd, NC, now a sleepy little crossroads town, is situated at the South Fork of the New River and was known as the Queen City of the Mountains in the 1800s due to its booming logging and timber industry. It’s an adventure all its own to take the short drive to this small community where you will find the clock has turned back time.
Todd General Stone, said to be the oldest general store in the State of North Carolina, is still open for business each day of the week. Here, you will find the oral traditions of mountain music and storytelling is still a weekly event. View the “Virginia Creeper” Railroad car which welcomes visitors to the quaint village and harkens back to the era when the Carolina-Virginia Railway brought a boom to the community.
The New River October Festival, biking on Railroad Grade Road, the on-going free summer concert series and many Todd Island Park activities are but a sampling of the events highlighted in Todd each year. Lansing, NC This rustic small town exudes the charm and warmth of old-time North Carolina.
Lansing, NC is located in the northwestern section of Ashe County and offers dining and downtown shops filled with local arts and crafts, antiques and sundries. Surrounding Lansing is remarkable for its scenic landscape especially Pond Mountain with its spring fed ponds that rise on the mountain’s ridges.
Lansing is home to the annual and well-known Ola Bella Reed Festival showcasing musical performances from renowned local and visiting Country, Bluegrass, Celtic, Folk and Old-time artists.
Ashe County Schools
Our Schools Public education is a priority to both civic leaders and citizens of Ashe County.
Four of the overall five schools in the Ashe County district have received “School of Distinction” recognition from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction for multiple years running. Currently, the county educates approximately 3,400 students.
The County has five schools ranging from pre-kindergarten to twelfth grade. Ashe County High School in West Jefferson promotes enrichment of students through specialized curriculum and athletic offerings. The school offers Advance Placement courses in specialized fields for pre-college credit and extended elective studies for broadening specializations.Student performance has long exceeded the State average in all standardized test requirements. Graduation ratios, too, exceed by 84% over that of the state's 70% average.
In 2008, Ashe County High School was recognized by US News and World Report as one of the top 1,500 national public high schools. In 2012, the school was awarded the North Carolina Spirit of Sport Award from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. Ashe County Middle School is located in Warrensville and offers sixth, seventh, and eighth grade children a full and enriching curriculum along with encore courses such as Art, Band, Spanish and Computer Sciences.
Ashe County Middle School has been chosen as a “School to Watch” by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle-Grade Reform. The County has three elementary schools: Blue Ridge in Warrensville, Mountain View in Jefferson, and Westwood in West Jefferson. Each offers a curriculum of extended early childhood learning through fifth grade with core curriculum and extended social, art and athletic activities.
The County also operates an Early Learning Center which serves pre-school aged children. The Ashe County Arts Council has partnered with the county school system to provide artistic programs for students including sponsored performances and artistic residency support in music, art, drama, and living history.
Ashe County Arts County partnership includes supporting programs such as Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) offered to fourth through sixth graders who want to learn guitar, banjo, or fiddle. The Mountain Arts Program, sponsored in conjunction with the Arts Council, exposes children to the hand-on craftsmanship of ceramics, weaving and loom work, jewelry making, paper making, puppetry, origami, creative writing and opera.
Ashe County Parks
Our Parks County parks and recreation are highly valued in Ashe County’s sense of community.
Overlooking the towns of West Jefferson and Jefferson, Mt. Jefferson State Park consists of 539 preserved acres of pristine mountain. Rising well above an altitude of 4,500 feet, Mt. Jefferson is a botanical paradise of varying indigenous hardwoods and pines. Accompanying the furtive natural landscape, Audubon and wildlife in the area is plentiful. Enjoy miles of picnicking and nature trails to take in the breathtaking views of this lovely state park.
The New River State Park in Jefferson provides a different vantage point of the countryside. With more than 2,200 acres of preserved land, gathering and picnic areas, as well as hiking trails and other amenities, the New River State Park is set alongside the banks of one of the country’s oldest known rivers. The New River, designated as a National Scenic River in 1976, serves as the centerpiece for this tranquil pastoral park. Access to canoeing, kayaking, excellent fishing, picnicking, camping and more, are available. The New River State Park has much to offer those who enjoy and appreciate the grandeur of the outdoors.
Ashe County Park consists of playgrounds, shelters for picnics, disk golf course, baseball fields, pond, just to name a few. At Family Central, you will find a fitness center, cardio room, a full gymnasium for basketball, a skate park, playgrounds with top of the line equipment, volley ball and the list goes on.
The town of West Jefferson is home to the Bowie-Segraves Municipal Park, also known as West Jefferson Park, connected to the town by way of the Back Street Park. The park offers, walking trails, picnic tables, tennis court, large greenspaces and playground equipment including a jumbo slide for the children or the young-at-heart.
Arts and Attractions
Ashe County has quickly become one of North Carolina’s preeminent havens for artists and craftsmen alike. With an extensive collection of independent and cooperative galleries, artistry in the High Country has been well supported. Ashe County touts more than thirty galleries, craft and antique shops each showcasing original and historic works in a variety of mediums. West Jefferson’s monthly Gallery Crawl is a collaborative effort where shop keepers and artists unite to welcome the public after business hours. Beverages and tapas foods are provided while the community mingles among fine and primitive art, quilting, photography, woodworking and clay mediums, to name but a few. The Town’s recognition and support of the arts has been a call to both serious and casual collectors.
The Ashe County Civic Center has steered the way with a monthly program of events and festivals that range from a performing artist’s concert series to theatre performances, dance and benefits for cultural awareness in the community. Well equipped with a 300 seat auditorium for larger events, the Ashe Civic Center offers the community an opportunity to revel in culture.
The Ashe County Arts Council is also instrumental in providing the community with an abundance of varying talents. The Arts Council sponsors an extensive calendar of monthly exhibits in its own gallery space conveniently located at the end of Main Street in downtown West Jefferson. A constant promoter and supporter of the Town’s monthly Gallery Crawls and the downtown’s extensive display of building murals, the Council continues to highlight its active involvement in keeping the artistic community flourishing in Ashe County. The Council supports the Ashe Little Theatre and Missoula Traveling Children’s Theatre, both of which it avails with open auditions and performances to the community.
The Ashe County Arts Council and Ashe County Public Library work in partnership to sponsor the annual weeklong literary festival, On the Same Page – A Celebration of Reading. Local and visiting writers participate in bringing the art of the written word to community. The festival includes artist’s readings, book fairs, a writing competition and special open discussions on all things written.
Ashe County is home to two of the most unique examples of fresco art in the country. World renowned and illustrious artist Ben Long graced the revived walls of both St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in West Jefferson and Holy Trinity Church in Glendale Springs. Separate works spanning the course of a six year period, Long’s frescos, Mystery of Faith and The Lord’s Supper, where each created as a gift to the community in reverence of both churches and their historical significance. An annual Festival of the Frescos is held each October to showcase his works yet public viewing is available throughout the year. Each year, thousands of visitors marvel at the impressive realism of the artist’s portraits and renderings. Mr. Long’s other works have been showcased in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC., he has been awarded the prestigious Leonardo Di Vinci International Artist Award and his cumulative works have earned him a place on the Art Renewal Center’s trademark list of Living Masters.
For the music lover, it is hard pressed to find a location more adapt in tradition and heritage than Ashe County. Home to Bluegrass, Country, Folk and the culmination of Celtic and Anglo music, Ashe County holds annual festivals highlighting nationally and locally renowned performers. All of the mystic sounds of the banjo, fiddle, mandolin, and all things acoustic commemorate the heritage of the mountains for centuries. Ashe County Fiddlers’ Convention normally held in August, with local and regional musicians. Lansing’s Ola Bella Reed Festival in memorial of Folk performer Ola Bella Campbell Reed is a celebration of all Appalachian mountain music and keeping its heritage alive. For traditions more rooted in the county’s southern heritage, the New River Blues Festival held just outside of West Jefferson is sure to please. Blues lovers line the grassy lawns along the New River in a day-long concert celebration that highlights globally known artists and living legends in the industry. Weekly and monthly free concerts routinely scheduled during the warmer months at both West Jefferson’s Backstreet Park and Todd’s Cook Memorial Park.
Ashe County Events
Ashe County has established and created as diverse a calendar of seasonal events as any of its urban counterparts. Rarely at lose for an event, Ashe County hosts monthly festivals year round. Well known as one of the nation’s most prominent Christmas tree farming areas, the Choose and Cut Christmas Tree events between Thanksgiving and Christmas allow the community to walk the sprawling tree farms for picking that favorite tree for the holidays. Don’t miss Olde Time Christmas at the Back Street Park where folks gather to carol and light the community’s tree and the Christmas Parade in West Jefferson is sure to please all ages as the town rolls out its finery for the season.
Christmas actually comes twice a year in the High Country as Christmas in July puts a new spin on the Fourth of July weekend events. Downtown West Jefferson becomes a festival of arts, crafts, and handmade Christmas wears with food vendors and musical performances throughout the two day event. Always a favorite among locals and vacationers, Christmas in July is attended by thousands.
Early September brings the Olde Time Antiques Festival which takes over most of downtown West Jefferson. The event is dynamic with rows of antique vendors and craftsmen. Pickers and serious collectors can delight in the wide range of timeless treasures, newly refurbished finds, quilts, linens, and tools from times gone by. Always a crowd pleasing event, the two day festival features musical entertainment, food and mountain festivities.
Quilting is an Appalachian tradition and the significance of this art form is felt during Ashe County’s Annual Quilt Fair. New age and traditional quilters come together to display historical and contemporary works designed to hold fast to the traditions of time and storytelling. The annual Quilt Fair displays a variety of hand-tooled and machine works including competition winners in spreads, wall hangings and theme creativity.
An annual Ashe County Art’s Council event, the Barn Quilt Tour in September and October promotes the heritage and significance of the Appalachian art form. Enjoy this leisurely countryside tours of various barns, homes and outbuildings which all display the art and prominence of the quilt square, a free and open art form in the Appalachians.
Autumn brings thousands of peak season tourists to the High Country. The magnificent change of seasons is best revealed here in the South. With the opulent transformation, comes the harvest and an inevitable period of Thanksgiving to folks in the High Country. Oktoberfest is sure to please as the folks of Jefferson block out the main streets with traditional German music and food. The festival also includes games and side street vendors as well as the frequent Jefferson Cruise-In, a collective of classic cars and hot rods, muscle rides and refurbished pick-ups. Children’s events abound in the fall with Jefferson’s Corn Maze adventure and Lansing’s Old School Haunted House.
For the avid golfer, Ashe County touts two exceptional courses each providing a beautiful mountain setting for a challenging round regardless of skill levels. Mountain Aire Golf, likened by many as the “Highlands” of Ashe County, contours the surrounding mountains with pristine tees and fairways all of which guarantee an exception round. Open to the public for nine months of the year, Mountain Aire offers affordable membership and cart fee options. Jefferson Landing Resort, designed by PGA Champion Larry Nelson, offers slopping golf ranges along the New River. Limited memberships include a variety of amenities from unlimited golf access to Club dining, pool and tennis. Enjoy the cool weather and amenities offered at either the Jefferson Landing or Mountain Aire Golf Resorts.
Long a part of America’s driving experience, The Blue Ridge Parkway traverses the county. Easily accessible, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers hundreds of miles of adventure including countless overlooks, state parks, historical sites and hiking trails. It offers an exploration of the heritage and history of the mighty Appalachian Mountains and avails both the day tripper and seasoned vacationer the natural bounty of North Carolina’s high country.
Canoeing and kayaking along the placid and tranquil New River has long been a mountain favorite pastime. Revel in the sites of riverside rolling pastures, mountain scenery and pristine woodlands as you drift or paddle the day away. Picnic along the banks of the New River or raft together for hours of family fun and enjoyment. Tube, canoe, and kayak rentals are available at various locations along the river throughout Ashe County.
Ashe County is renowned in for having some of the best Trout and fly fishing streams, rivers and lakes in the country. Long and well-kept secret fishing spots like Helton and Big Horse Creeks are hatchery supported and dot the countryside with openings for seasoned anglers and novices alike. Pick up a fly-rod and fish the waters for a variety of trout and bass, flathead and channel catfish or walleye.
Winter sportsmen have the convenience of neighboring ski resorts within less than an hour of Ashe County. Beech, Sugar and Appalachian Resorts all boast the South’s most exceptional winter experiences with a variety of trails for all skier and snowboarder skill levels. With elevations in excess of 4,500 ft. and average snowfalls ranging between 50-60 inches, these resorts serve Southern snow enthusiasts well. Don’t forget backyard sledding, tubing and tobogganing and a cup of hot chocolate to ring out the season.
Parkway Twin Cinemas in downtown West Jefferson provides the comfort of an art deco style theater with all the modern conveniences. Cardinal Bowling Lanes in Jefferson and Ashe Youth Skating Rink in West Jefferson also provide venues for and evening out, group sport and a bit of healthy competition. Little Fitness and Health in West Jefferson provides gym goes and fitness buffs with a comfortable venue to work out on free weights or exercise on the many aerobic machines. Training specialists and classes are also offered. Yoga and meditation classes are offered through several venues and free community classes.
Traveling to and from Ashe County is an easy, less than two hour, drive from either the Charlotte or Winston-Salem International Airports. For even easier convenience, Ashe County Airport accommodates small private and corporate jet services. The county lies conveniently thirty minutes from Boone and/or Blowing Rock, North Carolina. It is equally distant to Grayson County, Virginia and the county seat of Sparta in Alleghany County, NC. Ashe County is only an hour and a half from Johnson City, TN and Asheville in the southwestern part of the state.
We hope you have enjoyed Information on Ashe County.
If you wish additional information on relocating to Ashe County, or seeking a summer-home, our firm has been in business for over twenty-five years.
Ashe High Country Realty has earned a reputation for knowledge of the area, and for providing superior, professional service to our clients. We are happy to provide references upon request. We can be reached at 800-729-0735