Interstate 40 and the Black Mountains

As you travel north toward Intersate 40 from my house, the Black Mountains loom on the northwest horizon. This long series of peaks is the highest ridge east of The Rocky Mountains. All of the peaks are higher than 6,000 feet, with Mt. Mitchell being the highest of all at 6,700 feet. From this vantage point, the farthest ridge is over a mile higher than these hay fields.

Interstate 40 is the main east-west highway in North Carolina. This spot is less than eight miles due north of my house. This direction is toward Asheville, another twenty-five miles over the mountains. Suddenly the Black Mountains become visible as you round a sweeping curve on the highway. These photos were made during a return trip from Asheville on Thursday, October 4th, because there’s no place to stop on the westbound highway to get this view.

Driving eastbound away from the Eastern Continental Divide, there’s only one way to get a glimpse of the mountains behind you.

Looking back from the side of the highway, you can really get a feel for the size of these mountains. Mt. Michell is just off to the upper right behind the tree. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs along the top of the most distant ridges, circling around that 6,400 foot peak in the middle as it heads for Craggy Gardens, famous for the rhododendron meadows in early june. From this spot, that high ridge is twelve miles away.

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