Nestled high in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina is a peaceful rural community that has stayed untouched over the years. When Levi Ives, the second Episcopal bishop of North Carolina, visited the area in the 1840s he looked into the valley from a hillside, noticed three streams forming the shape of a St. Andrew’s cross and deemed the location Valle Crucis, Latin for “Vale of the Cross.” Pronounced valley crew’sis, the bucolic area was first formally settled over 200 years ago and is a place that historians and visitors alike have called “uncommon.”
The community has grown in recent years, as the valley’s scenic beauty and majestic quality continuously mesmerizes residents and draws visitors from throughout the world. Located in Watauga County, near Boone and only a few hours from the hustle and bustle of bigger cities, day and weekend getaways are possible, but most eventually return for a much longer stay.
Valle Crucis is North Carolina’s first rural historic district and the entire community is officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nationally recognized historic buildings are abound in Valle Crucis, with many like The Baird House (1790), The Mast Farm Inn (1812), the Old Episcopal Mission (1842) and the Mast General Store (1883), restored to their initial splendor and still serving the area today.
The rustic countryside provides ample opportunities for recreational activities. Both residents and visitors alike can be found enjoying the amenities at the riverfront community park, with multiple children’s playgrounds, athletic fields, picnic areas, and a walking/running trail around its border. Other outdoor enthusiasts can be found hiking from the sacred ground of the old Episcopal Mission, now the Valle Crucis Conference Center, up trails to Crab Orchard Falls or along other seemingly limitless trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Riding horses through old farm fields in the valley and fishing for trout from the banks of the streams and Watauga River also provide an enjoyable glimpse at the days of old. Regardless of the choice of activity, unquestionably the best way to recap the day’s events is from a rocking chair placed outside in the crisp mountain air, with views of spectacular foliage and the quaint valley.