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Overview

Used as a hunting ground by the Cherokees and Shawnees and named for President Thomas Jefferson and his father Peter, who owned the land in the mid-1700s, this pristine mountain remained isolated until a road was built to it in the 1930s. It became a state park in 1956 and was designated a national natural landmark by the National Park Service in 1975.

Harvard botanist Asa Gray, who visited the area in 1841, was keenly interested in the plant life of Mount Jefferson. Its oak/chestnut forest canopy shelters healthy stands of Catawba rhododendron, mountain laurel, flame azalea, dogwood, and wildflowers such as trillium, pink lady ...

Used as a hunting ground by the Cherokees and Shawnees and named for President Thomas Jefferson and his father Peter, who owned the land in the mid-1700s, this pristine mountain remained isolated until a road was built to it in the 1930s. It became a state park in 1956 and was designated a national natural landmark by the National Park Service in 1975.

Harvard botanist Asa Gray, who visited the area in 1841, was keenly interested in the plant life of Mount Jefferson. Its oak/chestnut forest canopy shelters healthy stands of Catawba rhododendron, mountain laurel, flame azalea, dogwood, and wildflowers such as trillium, pink lady slipper, and false lily of the valley. The only big-toothed aspen trees in the state are found here and in one other mountain county. The forest makes an ideal habitat for mammals such as gray squirrels, southern flying squirrels, eastern chipmunks, red foxes, raccoons, Virginia opossums, and white-tailed deer. Resident birds include red-tailed hawks, numerous warblers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, juncos, and nuthatches. The park’s flora and fauna make great studies for the ranger-led interpretative programs in the park.

The Summit Trail offers close-ups of the 4,665-foot mountain and panoramic views of the surrounding terrain, while the Rhododendron Trail to Luther Rock is ablaze with Catawba rhododendron in late June. Hikers, picnickers, birders, and other nature lovers feel right at home in Mount Jefferson State Park.

Carol Timblin
About the Expert

Carol Timblin has contributed to numerous guidebooks and authored four editions of Houghton Mifflin's Best Places to Stay in the South.

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Carol Timblin for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located in northwestern North Carolina, close to the Virginia and Kentucky state lines.
  • Research: Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
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Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Spring, summer, and fall. Icy and snowy conditions may make travel in the park hazardous in winter.