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February is "Rock Slide" Month

The view from Mount Jefferson State Natural Area
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Map of North Carolina – Mount Jefferson State Natural Area

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Park office

1481 Mount Jefferson State Park Road
West Jefferson, NC 28694

GPS: 36.3936, -81.4680



  • Year-round:
    8:00am to sunset
  • Closed Christmas Day


  • Open Monday to Friday:
    8:00am to 5:00pm
  • Closed state holidays




February is "Rock Slide" Month

February is "Rock Slide" month on Mt. Jefferson. We are not talking about people sliding down rocks, but rocks sliding down rocks. According to the August 1954 issue of The State magazine, there was a major geologic event that took place on a side of Mt. Jefferson in the middle of the night in February 1827.  The article states: “On February 27th 1827 a “tremendous roaring” echoed down the valleys of Ashe, and scared the people out of their beds. When they looked up at their mountain the next morning they found a large part of one side had slid off, hundreds of tons of rock gorging out a quarter-mile furrow” (State Magazine, August 1955).  

Februarys are still a little cold up here, and we still see icicles clinging to the natural area’s black rocks. Ice has been shaping and breaking this mountain for millions of years. This natural process happens in winter. Water seeps into rock gaps and freezes, then the frozen water expands. The expansion is just like a soda can left in your freezer. The liquid freezes, expands and then busts the can!  The rocks crack as ice expands and then slide down slope. Sometimes even today we see small rocks on the park road on February mornings. The park rangers still collect them in the mornings these days-- but we always remember the story of that February back in 1827.