Mount Mitchell State Park
Highest Mountain in Eastern America
In 2009, the park built a new walkway and observation platform on the summit of Mount Mitchell.
In 1916, the state of North Carolina began its official operations on Mount Mitchell. It was one year earlier that two state legislators from Yancey County introduced a bill in Raleigh designating the summit of Mount Mitchell as the first state park in North Carolina. At 6,684 feet, Mount Mitchell is the highest mountain in the Eastern U.S. And for the last century, it has been the flagship state park of North Carolina.
The video above gives an overview of the state park and features the summit and the observation platform, interpretive exhibits in the museum, campground (9 tent sites), and the restaurant (open May thru October).
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Elisha Mitchell’s Grave
Dr. Elisha Mitchell, a UNC professor who died exploring the mountain in 1857, is buried at the summit of the mountain that bears his name. He was 64 years-old. Visitors can find out more information about Mitchell in the Park Museum at the summit parking area.
The summit is a quarter-mile walk from the parking lot on a concrete path.
The observation platform on top of Mount Mitchell offers a 360-degree view of Yancey County and the surrounding area. In the Black Mountain range, which is about 15 miles long, there are 20 peaks over 6,000 feet.
Winter on Mount Mitchell
Winter on Mount Mitchell: The Longest Season is a 10-minute video that shows a snowstorm on the mountain and the work it takes to keep the roads cleared. The video, shot and edited by Chanse Simpson, features scenes of park staff using plows and four-wheel-drive trucks to remove snow.
Dr. Elisha Mitchell was a professor at Chapel Hill from 1818 until his death in 1857. He was a Presbyterian minister, educator, scientist and explorer who was born in Washington, CT. The inscription on his grave reads: HERE LIES IN HOPE OF A BLESSED RESURRECTION THE BODY OF THE REV. ELISHA MITCHELL, D.D. WHO AFTER BEING FOR 39 YEARS A PROFESSOR IN THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA, LOST HIS LIFE IN THE SCIENTIFIC EXPLORATION OF THIS MOUNTAIN IN THE 64TH YEAR OF HIS AGE. JUNE 27, 1857.
It was Big Tom Wilson, shown at left in a lifesize carving by Yancey County artist David Boone, who found Dr. Mitchell’s body at the bottom of the falls that now bear his name. Mitchell’s watch was permanently stopped at 8:19:56. The carving is part of the park’s interpretive museum. See Elisha Mitchell’s Watch
This 30-ft tower stood atop Mount Mitchell from 1959 to 2008, when it was replaced by an observation platform on the summit.
Photo by Chanse Simpson