Banner Elk, North Carolina

Copyright: Margaret.W/

Banner Elk, North Carolina

A dreamscape located in the heart of Blue Ridge Mountains in Western-North Carolina, Banner Elk is a favorite destination for countless individuals and families seeking fun in the outdoors. The “ski capital of the South” offers a plenty of open air activities such as fishing, rafting, horseback riding, hiking, golfing and—of course—skiing. Banner Elk also presents a climate that accommodates every itinerary, spanning the Blue Ridge and Grandfather Mountains, picturesque communities, fine restaurants, and speciality shopping.

The City

Banner Elk takes its name from the explorer Martin L. Banner, who first established a western settlement near river Elk in 1848. However, this area, also known as "High Country" was first inhabited by Cherokee Indians, who possessed a strong foothold along the crest of Blue Ridge Mountain and used this rich land for hunting and agriculture. In 1825, white settlers began to inhabit the area, emigrating from other regions of the United States, as well as from Europe. The town was officially incorporated in 1911 by the North Carolina General Assembly, and the area became primarily comprised of agriculture. Known as the “Christmas tree capital of the world," Banner Elk ´s economy is partly based on this small business, due to the strong presence of fir-forests in the hills surrounding the town. After World War II, tourism slowly began to change the face of this tiny mountain area, when vacationers discovered the wealth natural attractions such as Watauga Lake or spectacular slopes like Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain.

Do & See

Banner Elk contributes to High Country's boundless attractions with natural wonders like Grandfather Mountain and the Blue Ridge Parkway. International and local visitors come by the millions each year to experience North Carolina through Banner Elk's eyes. There are also activities in the surrounding Blue Ridge areas. The slopes of Blue Ridge, with their unique biodiversity of flora and fauna, are unmissable destinations for hikers and bird watchers, while the high number of ski resort makes the area ideal for winter sports lovers.


Some of High Country's best venues are found right in Banner Elk, thanks to the high quality local products offered by this almost uncontaminated mountain area. Dining in Banner Elk comfortably ranges from fine, upscale dining to cozy Southern cooking. Dishes are prepared utilizing fresh fish from the streams and fresh meat produced from local farms. Banner Elk´s traditional cuisine is also based on venison, abundantly provided by Appalachian woods, and grilled pork or beef slices, often served with typical Western north Carolina BBQ sauces.


Enjoy freshly brewed coffees and specialty roasts in the fresh, open air of Banner Elk. Happiness comes in a cup of mountain vistas and the welcoming ambiance of High Country. In Banner Elk, you will find hearty country cooking amid lighter fare in cozy, casual eateries.

Bars & Nightlife

Look to Banner Elk for an escape from the traditional bar scene, for its nightlife venues span everything from New Orleans style eateries to tapas bars. The younger crowd may want to head over to the nearby college town of Boone, where they can rub elbows with Appalachian State students taking a break from their studies. Most late night hot spots are laid back watering holes, where you can sip a drink, grab some food, and enjoy some music or conversation.


Shopping in Banner Elk is as unique as the town itself. Cute boutiques, home furnishing consignments, and pet bakeries are some of the stops you can add to your shopping trip. If you prefer shopping centers to smaller, freestanding shops, you can find some deals at the outlet mall, or you can take a short drive to peruse the offerings of the Boone Mall.

Tourist Information