They say that what you do to ring in the new year sets the tone for your entire year. For 32 people who joined Ranger Joe Shimel at Mount Jefferson State Natural Area, getting active and out in nature was on the menu. This was a First Day Hike, part of a national program through America’s State Parks to promote outdoor activity across the country. The program boasts guided outdoor hikes in all 50 states. In North Carolina alone, every state park offered First Day Hikes to their visitors.
The 36th Annual New River Canoe Race was a blast! Great weather coupled with above normal water levels created ideal conditions for a fun day of racing on New River. The race is coordinated by Friends of High Country State Parks and is a long running tradition of bringing families to paddle the river. The race includes multiple categories for men, women, mixed, and families utilizing different water craft such as canoes, kayaks and longboats. There were about 150 boat entries in the race from novice to champion levels.
The 11th annual Mount Jefferson State Natural Area Poetry Contest was a success! There were over 300 poems submitted by students from kindergarten through sixth grades. This contest brings nature, science and art together in amazing poetry created by students. A special thank you is in order for North Carolina Poet Laureate Shelby Stephonson for his time judging the top finalists' poems. Friends of High Country State Parks supports the contest by donating prizes for winners such as tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, telescopes and flashlights.
The 3rd Annual NC Downhill Race at Mount Jefferson brought about several firsts. A free-ride day was added to the event, providing an opportunity for additional riders to try their skills on the mountain. A luge class was added with 12 registered riders competing in classic luge (buttboarding) and street luge. The first and biggest story of the event has to be Emily Pross taking the title. This is the first time a female racer has taken the title in a major sanctioned downhill event in an open class.
Celebrate 60 Years of Mount Jefferson as a State Park
In 1956, local papers like the Sky-land Post and the well-known magazine “Our State” were telling the story of North Carolina's newest state park. With little more than 400 acres, Mount Jefferson State Park came into being in October 1956.
Later, in 1975 that same park would be recognized by The National Parks Service as a National Natural Landmark or a place of natural value for our entire country. Plants rare and endangered began to be noticed here, and soon a few lone American Chestnut trees were discovered on this mountain surviving and defying the blight. Orchids, Big Tooth Aspen, and even a few Hemlock Trees still glisten like jewels in this State Natural Area that is now more than 1,000 acres in size.
On Oct. 15, join us as we celebrate 60 years of Mount Jefferson State Park. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., local Blue Grass music will be played on the mountain with plenty of free cake, snacks, drinks, crafts and hiking all being provided for this celebration. This special place belongs to everyone and everyone is invited. We are also celebrating our state-wide heritage, remembering that North Carolina State Parks are now 100 years old. This year we have a unique opportunity to experience our parks and remember the parks stories. During our Mount Jefferson Celebration, we will invite local residents to share their stories of Mount Jefferson with our staff who can record your words about the area and this old mountain.
Join us Oct. 15, as we remember the example of those forward looking people who would not rest until their mountain finally became a state park where people can play, explore, and protect the natural diversity of their mountain. We say thank you to those who helped make Mount Jefferson become a park. May we be worthy of their trust and be good stewards of this fragile mountain for all the years to come.
The 2016 Mount Jefferson State Natural Area Poetry Contest brought in nearly 200 poems written by local elementary students. Friends of Mount Jefferson support this program by offering contest winners with prizes such as tents, sleeping bags, fishing poles and telescopes. NC Poet Laureate Kay Byer continues to support this contest as the final judge for the poems. The students receive their prizes, certificates and recognition during school assemblies at each of the local elementary schools in Ashe County. Enjoy an excert from one of the winning entries:
Make sure to catch the action of skatboarders racing at over 50mph at the 2nd Annual NC Downhill Race at Mount Jefferson on April 23rd and 24th.
Park Rangers at Mount Jefferson State Natural Area have taught every 4th grader in Ashe County about fossils.