Sandy McLeod

Best Breakfast Spots in Asheville

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Feb
2

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With such a thriving restaurant scene, Asheville has something for everyone – whether you are gluten free, vegan, a farm-to-table fanatic (maybe all of the above) or just needing a quick bite to start off your day. Those of us at Asheville Cabins have tried them all – for purely research reasons of course – and have compiled a list of places that you can’t beat for the most important meal of the day!

The Corner Kitchen

Our owner's favorite breakfast spot!

Our owner’s favorite breakfast spot!

In historic Biltmore Village, The Corner Kitchen has delighted locals and travelers with a farm-fresh menu in a casual environment. Not only are they known for a fantastic lunch and dinner menu, but their breakfast menu offers the classics of a traditional cafe with an attention to quality ingredients you don’t see everyday. From Pecan Trout with Eggs to Biscuits and Gravy, the care put into their food is apparent from the first bite. The Corner Kitchen is located in a restored 100+ year old house, rich with history and flavor, and should not be missed on any trip to Asheville!

Tupelo Honey Cafe

A fresh take on southern: courtesy tupelohoneycafe.com

A fresh take on southern: courtesy tupelohoneycafe.com

Founded in 2000, Tupelo Honey Café is a staple in the Asheville restaurant world, and has quickly garnered a reputation for itself for having a fresh, creative take on traditional southern comfort favorites. From sweet potato pancakes and goat cheese grits, to the Debutante: a dainty omelet with basil, havarti and caramelized onions. Maybe the meat lovers in the group can try the Chorizo & Chow Chow Grit Bowl, or Tupelo’s take on a Canadian Poutine? Either way, Tupelo Honey is not to be missed during your trip to Asheville.

Sunny Point

West Asheville offers several restaurant options that stand out from the crowd – just like West Asheville itself. The funky area is full of quirk and irreverence, a stylistic approach to everything, especially cuisine. A favorite among locals, Sunny Point Café is a colorful, quaint restaurant with a breakfast menu that will knock your socks off. Their signature dish might just be their Huevos Rancheros: black bean cakes, chorizo sausage, feta, tomatillo salsa, herbed potatoes, two free-range eggs and a cilantro crema. Most dishes allow for substitutions if veggie sausage and tofu bacon are more your style. You can build your own omelette or biscuit, and finish with a warm oatmeal brulee (it’s exactly what it sounds like!) The wait for a table if you arrive early is still close to 30 minutes, but we hear from guests time and time again how much it is worth the wait!

Biscuit Head

Courtesy of www.biscuitheads.com

Courtesy of www.biscuitheads.com

Also representing the West side of Asheville, Biscuit Head (named for the size of the biscuit – as big as a cat’s head) specializes in what they do best – flaky, buttery biscuits and all the amazing additions you can imagine. There are benedicts of all kinds, creative twists on traditional breakfast sides, and to cap it all off a butter bar! Word of mouth and a fantastic, evolving menu has put Biscuit Head front and center as one of the faces of Asheville cuisine.

 

Green Sage

Downtown location, courtesy of greensagecafe.com

Downtown location, courtesy of greensagecafe.com

If you are looking for a fresh, healthy take on breakfast, Green Sage is the perfect place to work with any food requirements or dietary specifications, while still offering delicious food in a casual setting. Gluten sensitive biscuits and tempeh bacon round out traditional breakfast sandwiches, while fresh juices and coffee beverages give a much need boost in the AM.  Meats are sourced locally from Hickory Nut Gap farms, and an appreciation for the preservation of our environment is a key motivator in how they run their 3 locations.

Our local flavor is one of a unique nature: delicious and creative, fresh and sustainable, authentically southern with an appreciation for the small mountain city that we lovingly call home.

A view from Asheville's famous Jackson Building.

A view from Asheville’s famous Jackson Building.

Sandy McLeod

Winter Fun at Asheville Cabins

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Jan
22
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The sled races have begun!

 

Get your sled ready and your boots on! This winter storm has started, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t enjoying the pleasures of a mountain winter wonderland at Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds. Our property offers plenty of space to stretch out and start a snowball fight, make a snow angel, or build your own snowman.

 

 

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Our steep hills provide a frosty thrill.

 

After a day full or trekking through the snow, our fireplaces and hot tubs provide a perfect place to cuddle up and get warm.  You can watch the snow accumulate from the comfort of your own luxury cabin — then go out and have more fun!

 

 

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Our maintenance staff hard at work.

Unlike at home, our maintenance staff will take care of all of your shoveling! They started cleanup almost immediately, plowing all the way to the main road. They ensure that paths, porches and decks stay clean during the snowfall. Keeping up with the accumulations is part of the way we ensure that our guests feel safe as possible navigating the property.

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The tranquility of winter.

While the weather is unpredictable, there is always a way to make the best of a chilly situation. So bundle and up and join us at Asheville cabins, and enjoy all that winter has to offer!

 

Sandy McLeod

Tips for a romantic getaway in Western North Carolina

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Jan
6
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A wintry touch to our water features.

Is there any better way to start off 2016 than a romantic trip to Asheville with your significant other? We can’t think of any! This time of year yields a fantastic opportunity to experience Asheville at its most serene, with the busy din of the holidays quieting down, and a peaceful tranquility blanketing nearby trails and hiking spots. We’ve outlined some activities that might serve as the perfect backdrop to a romantic trip for you and your special someone.

The Biltmore Estate

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The beautiful Biltmore Estate grounds.

The ornate interiors and lush grounds of the Biltmore Estate make for one romantic date! After the holidays, the crowds move out and it is much easier to navigate the expansive mansion – not to mention that the new year typically brings the lowest prices of the year. In addition, there will be a spectacular exhibition called Fashionable Romance: Wedding Gowns in Film that will take place from February 12 – July 4th 2016. This event will showcase over 40 award-winning costumes from classic films. The display shows how the fashion in nuptial attire has changed from the 1700s to the 1940s, and is sure to put a flutter in anyone’s heart. Visit the Biltmore Estate website  for more information.

Relaxation therapy at a local spa

 

We have several places in Asheville to relax and enjoy your romantic vacation with a massage or spa experience. Most offer a couple’s massage, and Around Town Massage goes the extra mile (literally) with in-home massages –so you don’t even have to leave the warmth of your cabin. Sensibilities Day Spa has a south Asheville location in Biltmore Park, and offers a variety of services to pamper and primp. Downtown has a lot to offer with  SpaTheology, a day spa that specializes in a personalized approach to what any couple needs to feel relaxed and rejuvenated. A spa trip can soothe any ache and pain that the holidays might have incurred, and it is a perfect way to bring a couple together while enjoying the serenity of a mountain getaway.

Take a Hike!

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The hikes in the Asheville area that are so popular in the summer months adapt and become something serene and special in the winter. Paths normally worn and crowded take on a more contemplative feel, adjusting with the weather and becoming something to take in with quiet reflection. That being said, they are just as exhilarating, and provide a fantastic opportunity to get out and experience the beauty of the western North Carolina mountains. Dupont State Forest’s waterfalls are as fantastic as ever, with recent heavy rain providing a significant water pour. The Blue Ridge Parkway provides not only a peaceful hike, but a scenic drive that can provide one-on-one time with your loved one without any distractions.

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Enjoy the view from the comfort of our cabins.

Whether you are thinking about a Valentine’s Day excursion, or a much needed getaway from the stresses of home, Asheville is a romantic city with so much to offer. After all the activities, you will find that returning to our luxury cabins to warm up near the fireplace or soak in the hot tub is the perfect way to end your romantic adventure. Don’t forget; January, February and March are our Winter Special months, so you can stay for three or more nights and get one of the nights free OR get 10% off your entire stay (20% off for our Willow Winders). Not valid with any other offers. Book soon, and emmerse yourself in the luxury, serenity, and comfort of Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds.

Sandy McLeod

Lights on! Asheville holiday light displays 2015.

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Dec
15

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There is nothing quite like a holiday light display. The twinkle and movement of lights in the dark is sure to stir up the spirit of even the biggest Scrooge, and spark the imagination and wonder in children of all ages. Asheville has a few different options this year, so you can customize your experience to make a perfect holiday outing.

Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland

Now until December 30th, a synchronized light show will take place at the Western North Carolinan Agricultural Center in Fletcher. Shadrack’s features a two mile long drive-through display, complete with movement synchronized to music played through your vehicle’s radio. The show utilizes this feature to integrate the viewers into the action and makes for an interactive display like no other. You can park and get out as well, as long as cars are off to the side and not blocking the traffic flow. The display is open 6 to 10pm rain or shine, and you may purchase tickets from the comfort of your vehicle at the gates. For more information, visit Shadrack’s Christmas website.

Winter Lights at the NC Arboretum

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The beauty of the Arboretum doesn’t fade away with the loss of foliage, but rather changes into something completely different and exactly as magnificent. The Winter Lights will take place from now until January 2nd, and is a wonderful light display if you want to see the lights up close and out of your vehicle. This walking tour takes you into the perfectly tended gardens and to a 50-ft tall Christmas tree that does a light show every 30 minutes. There will also be a S’mores station, as well as hot chocolate and buffet (for a fee) of comfort food. Gates open at 6pm and the last opportunity to enter is 9pm. For more information, check out the NC Arboretum website. Tickets must be bought in advance, and visit on Tuesdays for special Friends and Family rates!

Lake Julian Festival of Lights

Lake Julian recreational park will be having a drive-though light display from now until  December 22nd, and has become a local tradition due to the location on the water, as well as its use of animation in the displays. The tickets are $5 per car, and the gates open from 6 to 9pm. Located at 406 Overlook Rd. Ext, Arden NC 28704.

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These tours will be packed on the weekends, so consider a weekday visit. Dress warmly, and for inclement weather. After your outing, return to our luxury cabins and warm up in our hot tubs, then dry off next to the wood-burning fireplace!

Sandy McLeod

Things to do: 2015 Holiday season

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Nov
25

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Grab the family and hop in the car – it’s the holidays again! This time of year brings natural beauty and all the fun activities to get you in the spirit. Here are some suggestions for what to do in Western North Carolina – from turkey day to 2016.

The Candlelight Evenings at the Biltmore Estate

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If you haven’t had the opportunity to experience a Candlelight Evening at the Biltmore Estate, don’t hesitate to reserve a tour. Biltmore will be painted in warm, natural lighting from fireplaces and candles in each beautifully decorated room. The Candlelight Evenings are really something that should be seen to be believed, but hurry—they book fast, and it is an experience you don’t want to miss.

The evenings will be held from now until January 2nd, tickets are for a specific time, and are non-refundable. For more information visit http://www.biltmore.com/visit/plan-your-visit/buy-tickets/candlelight-evenings

The Polar Express Train

The Great Smoky Mountain Railroad will make the book and film come alive during their annual Polar Express Train ride. From now to January 3, 2016, you can depart from the Bryson City train station, and arrive at the North Pole! Each child will receive a free cookie, cup of cocoa, and a special gift from Santa himself – a silver bell. For more information, visit http://www.gsmr.com .

An Old-Fashioned Dickens of a Christmas Festival

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The first weekend in December, Biltmore Village will be decked out with Dickensian charm as the Old Fashioned Dickens of a Christmas Festival gets underway.  The Biltmore Village area will get transformed into a Victorian village, complete with horse-drawn carriages, entertainers in Victorian garb, and tree lighting at 6pm on Friday night.

The festivities will continue Saturday, 11am to 7pm, and many shops will be open later than usual to take part in the fun! Biltmore Village has eclectic shopping, fine-dining, and all the history and beauty to make this blast from the past a must-see this season.

23rd Annual National Gingerbread House Competition at the Grove Park Inn

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This yearly competition has all the sweet treats and structural integrity! Artists and bakers from all over the country submit their masterpieces to be judged by culinary experts. The displays must be entirely edible (except for the base) and 75% gingerbread. And if you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting, The Omni Grove Park Inn is lit up with Christmas decorations and even a large gingerbread kiosk.

The houses will be on display until January 3, 2016, Friday and Saturday if you are lodging with the hotel, Sunday through Thursday for everyone else. For more information, visit http://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/asheville-grove-park/things-to-do/upcoming-events/2015-national-gingerbread-competition

And, what better way to relax after a busy day than to warm up in one of our hot tubs or have a cup of cocoa in front of the wood-burning fireplace? Need a gift for someone who deserves a getaway? We offer custom gift certificates, so you can give the gift of relaxation in a cozy cabin.

Sandy McLeod

Want to experience the leaf season? There’s still time!

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Oct
24

Per usual, nature doesn’t follow a set schedule. A perfect example is this year’s leaf season in Western North Carolina, which is occuring much later than predicted. The good news? This means that there is still time to visit and take advantage of a spectacular (and all too brief) time of year.

 

 

While the weekends here at Asheville Cabins are almost fully booked through the beginning of November, we have availability for many of the weekdays. October 26-30 would be an ideal time to visit, since weekends tend to be so crowded it can get difficult to do everything on your itinerary. The Blue Ridge Parkway is less crowded, as is our local restaurants and breweries.

 

 

This late change has offered up an opportunity to experience Asheville and it’s colors early into November. There is availability for November 2-5, and November 9-12, but they are booking fast, so reserve now while they are still available! Enjoy the season- while it is still here- in the luxury, serenity, and comfort of Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds.

 

Sandy McLeod

Fall Water Sports in the Mountains of WNC

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Oct
15

Get Outdoors When You Visit the Mountains

Don’t let the calendar trick you into believing the outdoors are suddenly off-limits. The weather usually doesn’t turn chilly until mid-October. So when you visit the mountains in the early autumn, you still have plenty of time to enjoy mountain hiking, mountain biking and even mountain water sports.

If you love mountain water sports,you might consider Western North Carolinaa paradise. Some of the businesses below offer guided trips and instruction; others simply rent the gear and let you do your thing. Regardless of whether you choose a guided trip or to set off on your own, you can’t beat the feeling of being out on the water on a bright fall day.

Tubing on Mountain Rivers

Tubing down a river doesn’t involve danger… unless you’re afraid of having fun. Western North Carolina has several businesses that rent or sell giant inflatable tubes for river rides. While not as intense as whitewater rafting, floating down one of the many local rivers in a tube is a cool way to spend a lazy afternoon. As mountain water sports go, tubing is a safe activity for your family and a fun experience for your friends. Let the current be your guide as you embrace the beauty of autumn from a unique mid-river perspective.

Pick Up a Paddle and Go

There’s no reason to let the changing seasons keep you off the mountain water. North Carolina’s mountain waterways are gorgeous in the fall.If you want to experience the stunning scenery, take a canoe or kayak trip through a mountain river or stream. Small watercraft can go where larger boats cannot. Experienced adventurers can head out to the rapids, while those looking for something a little more relaxed can paddle down the French Broad River, pausing to let the current do the work.

Ready, Set, Raft!

Whitewater rafting might be the ultimate in mountain water sports. While the local rivers remain relatively calm, you’ll find plenty of rapids in mountain streams if that’s what you like. The Green River, for example, has rapids that attract paddlers looking for a high-energy adrenaline rush. Whitewater rafting is an exciting and generally safe mountain water sport, but there are risks, so make sure you go with an experienced guide and follow all the recommended safety precautions.

Gone Fishing

Locals understand that there’s an art to fly-fishing, something you know as well if you’ve ever tried it. Standing in the river, hip-deep in a pair of rubber waders, creating the perfect cast with a handcrafted fly: it’s a meditative experience punctuated occasionally with a dancing fish on the line. There’s a science to it, too: navigating the underwater terrain and knowing just the right moment to cast your lure.But the art involves enticing an iridescent fish to take your bait. If you’re a fisherman or want to be one, fall is the perfect time.

Mountain Water Sports Near Asheville

Staying at Asheville Cabins comfortably serves as an ideal starting and ending point for autumn water activities. The French Broad River is minutes away. And the trout pond on the property is still stocked and waiting. Summer may have ended, but you can find fun and adventure in the water— as long as you know where to look.

Sandy McLeod

Looking Forward to Fall Colors

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Sep
26

We may be a bit biased here at Asheville Cabins, but we believe that there is nowhere on earth more breath-taking than western North Carolina in the fall. The summer warmth takes leave, and in its place, a fireworks display of color ornaments our mountain community.  This year is predicted to be one of the most beautiful – and longest – leaf seasons we’ve had in a while. The reason? The current drought and cooler mornings are a perfect recipe for the vibrant color change we hope to see in early October.  And our location next to the Blue Ridge Parkway, means that our colors are around for longer than most! So here are some suggestions for where to see the leaves at their peak time – and avoid the crowds!

Leaves will turn at the highest elevations first, so early October will prove to be spectacular if you are able to visit Craggy Gardens, Mt Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain, and any lookout view around 5000 ft elev.
Early to mid October will offer up beautiful colors in the areas closer to our cabins. Mount Pisgah (only a 1 hour drive) and Devil’s Courthouse will turn shortly after the highest elevation, and if early predictions are correct, hold on to the color longer than usual.
Mid to late October will bring the color to our area in Asheville. The trees of central Asheville will be speckled with orange and red. The best place to see these
colors will be not far from Willow Winds (only a 5 minute drive) – on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway.  
Closer to the end of October, the lower elevations near the foothills of western North Carolina will begin to take on the autumnal changes. This is a beautiful time to visit Chimney Rock Park near the Lake Lure, NC area.

While the weekends are booking up quickly, here at Willow Winds we are still offering warm, welcoming cabins during the week. There is no better way to view these colors than on your own mountain porch, nestled in woodland tranquility. And, the weekdays are great for sightseeing on the Blue Ridge Parkway since traffic tends to hit its peak on October weekends!  This season’s changes will be a perfect introduction to someone new to Western North Carolina and the beauty that autumn brings to our area. And to those who are regular visitors – expect a display unlike any other for 2015.

While we are looking forward….

It should be noted that Willow Winds is a four-season resort. So if you can’t visit in autumn, then try us during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. Our 25 cabins are perfect for large families to get together over the holiday and experience how magical Asheville is that time of year. Our easy access to the Mountain-to-Sea Trail is also a great way to get a head start on your New Year’s fitness resolutions.

Our Spring season is one of our favorites. Our millions of daffodils start blooming in late February. They continue throughout the Spring and are joined by  our other  flowering plants, as described in our book “Blue Ridge Mountain Gardening” , available on Amazon.com.

Our Summer season offers a number of activities. The mountain temperatures are typically about 10 degrees cooler those of the lowlands.  These are ideal for hiking our trails or for fishing our stocked trout pond.

(Not so) fun fact!: the leaves of poison ivy and poison oak plants tend to turn before surrounding plants, so if a particular bush stands out, beware!

Sandy McLeod

Avoid the new trend for add-on fees for Vacation Rentals!

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Sep
16

 

2014 Fall Photo at Asheville Cabins

2014 Fall Photo at Asheville Cabins

An article in USA Today recently reported that extra fees are coming to Vacation Rentals faster than in other part of the travel industry. These fees include hot tub fees, cleaning fees, etc.  Mr. Elliott’s article is reprinted below.

Dreaded fees come to vacation rentals by: Christopher Elliott, Special for USA TODAY 8:09 a.m. EDT September 14, 2015    First, there was a $25 “check-in” fee when she arrived, which, though disclosed in the fine print of her contract, was unexpected. And then there was a mandatory $200 “cleaning” fee for her unit after she checked out. Neither was part of the original price. Rhonda’s vacation rental in Park City, Utah, came with a few surprises.

To add insult to injury, a construction crew in a nearby unit woke her at 7 a.m., on her first morning at the mountain resort. “So much for relaxing with the mountain breeze,” says Moret, a healthcare marketing consultant who lives in Del Mar, Calif. Don’t look now, but vacation rental companies are piling on the fees, many of them pure junk. Among the most common: booking fees, change fees, cleaning fees, hot tub fees, parking fees, reservation fees and — everyone’s favorite — amorphous “convenience” fees. Simply put, rental fees are exploding. And there’s a reason why.

“Rental managers only get a commission on the rental part of the transaction,” explains Andrew McConnell, the chief executive of VacationFutures, an online vacation rental marketplace. “But most negotiate that they get to keep 100% of fees. In this way they can make owners think they are getting a great deal with a lower commission, but actually take more of the all-in revenue by shifting more of the revenue to other fees.”

2014 Fall photo of Trout Pond

2014 Fall photo of Trout Pond

 

At our Asheville Cabins Resort we do not  charge any fees except taxes required by law! There are no hidden fees.  In fact, we have a Vacation Rental Calculator that allows you to compare our total cost to that of competitors.  Before booking your stay, compare those hidden costs!

We have a staff of  full time professionals who are here to assist you in every way possible to make your stay your best vacation ever!  Our staff is not paid a commission on upcharges, therefore, they have no reason to try to pile on extra fees.

Sandy McLeod

Get Outdoors When You Visit the Mountains of WNC

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Sep
7

Don’t let the calendar trick you into believing the outdoors are suddenly off-limits. The weather usually doesn’t turn chilly until mid-October. So when you visit the mountains in the early autumn, you still have plenty of time to enjoy mountain hiking, mountain biking  mountain water sports and even zip lining.
If you love mountain water sports,you might consider Western North Carolinaa paradise. Some of the businesses below offer guided trips and instruction; others simply rent the gear and let you do your thing. Regardless of whether you choose a guided trip or to set off on your own, you can’t beat the feeling of being out on the water on a bright fall day.

 

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Photo courtesy of Asheville Outdoor Center

Tubing on Mountain Rivers
Tubing down a river doesn’t involve danger… unless you’re afraid of having fun. Western North Carolina has several businesses that rent or sell giant inflatable tubes for river rides. While not as intense as whitewater rafting, floating down one of the many local rivers in a tube is a cool way to spend a lazy afternoon. As mountain water sports go, tubing is a safe activity for your family and a fun experience for your friends. Let the current be your guide as you embrace the beauty of autumn from a unique mid-river perspective.

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Photo courtesy of Wildwater Rafting

Pick Up a Paddle and Go
There’s no reason to let the changing seasons keep you off the mountain water. North Carolina’s mountain waterways are gorgeous in the fall.If you want to experience the stunning scenery, take a canoe or kayak trip through a mountain river or stream. Small watercraft can go where larger boats cannot. Experienced adventurers can head out to the rapids, while those looking for something a little more relaxed can paddle down the French Broad River, pausing to let the current do the work.

 

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Photo courtesy of Asheville Outdoor Center

Ready, Set, Raft!
Whitewater rafting might be the ultimate in mountain water sports. While the local rivers remain relatively calm, you’ll find plenty of rapids in mountain streams if that’s what you like. The Green River, for example, has rapids that attract paddlers looking for a high-energy adrenaline rush. Whitewater rafting is an exciting and generally safe mountain water sport, but there are risks, so make sure you go with an experienced guide and follow all the recommended safety precautions.

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Photo courtesy of NCMountain Realty Group

Gone Fishing

Locals understand that there’s an art to fly-fishing, something you know as well if you’ve ever tried it. Standing in the river, hip-deep in a pair of rubber waders, creating the perfect cast with a handcrafted fly: it’s a meditative experience punctuated occasionally with a dancing fish on the line. There’s a science to it, too: navigating the underwater terrain and knowing just the right moment to cast your lure.But the art involves enticing an iridescent fish to take your bait. If you’re a fisherman or want to be one, fall is the perfect time.

 

Mountain Water Sports Near Asheville
Staying at the Asheville Cabins of Willow Winds comfortably serves as an ideal starting and ending point for autumn water activities. The French Broad River is minutes away. And the trout pond on the property is still stocked and waiting. Summer may have ended, but you can find fun and adventure in the water— as long as you know where to look.