By Jonathan Austin
Yancey County News
The National Park Service has approached Yancey County authorities with a
proposal that the county help operate the visitors’ center at Crabtree
Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
County Manager Nathan Bennett sees the opportunity as a chance for
Yancey County to cement its slogan ‘Gateway to Mt. Mitchell’ and to
create a mechanism that will funnel visitors off the Parkway and deep
into Yancey County.
“Yancey County has always lacked a way to get the Parkway visitor off
the Parkway and into Burnsville,” Bennett said. Agreeing to operate the
facility at Crabtree Falls – or Crabtree Meadows as it is traditionally
called – could be a critical step toward establishing that effort, he
The building- located at milepost 349 between N.C. 80 and Little
Switzerland - has in the past included a restaurant and other amenities.
In season, travelers or locals visit the site to stay at the
campground, picnic area, and to use the hiking trails to visit nearby
The location of the 1,400-square-foot building and parking area could
provide Yancey County with a valuable opportunity to showcase area
crafts and information designed to get the vacationer onto N.C. 80 and
the rest of the county.
Bennett said Yancey has been asked if it wants to partner with other
nearby counties in the facility, at a cost of $7,500 a year. Concessions
at the facility would be run by a company that traditionally operates
Park Service facilities, but Yancey could have access to the display
areas, a large lobby, and other rooms.
The building is located just six miles from the entrance to Mt. Mitchell
State Park, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to the
county each year.
Connie Edson, Executive Director of the Yancey County Chamber of
Commerce, said the opportunity to draw travelers off the Parkway is
tremendous. “If we can grab them and bring them here... it’s an awesome
Mark File, creator of the website www.romanticasheville.com, which
features destinations in and around Western North Carolina, said “since
there are so few waterfalls accessible off the Blue Ridge Parkway,
Crabtree Falls is so important in attracting visitors to the area. We
recommend it all the time. Also, since there are few visitors centers
right on the Parkway, this is a very important stop” for travelers. “We
would certainly love to promote this center more on our website since it
will be a great source of information for visitors on the area.”
See Crabtree Falls featured on RomanticAsheville.com