• Photo: Serge Skiba / Shutterstock
  • Photo: Konstantin L / Shutterstock

Banner Elk

Surrounded by the lofty peaks of Grandfather, Hanging Rock, Beech, and Sugar Mountains, this ski resort bills itself as the "highest town in the East." The massively ugly condo tower you'll see on top of Little Sugar Mountain (not a part of the Sugar Mountain ski resort) is the only scar on the scenic beauty of the area. At least something good came of the monstrosity—it so outraged local residents that it prompted the passing of a ridgeline law preventing future mountaintop development. A must-do in Banner Elk is the annual Woolly Worm Festival, held annually in mid- to late October. Woolly worms race to see which one gets to predict the winter weather forecast for North Carolina's High Country.


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