Uncrowded Southern Mountain Destinations

As winter’s coldest days begin to be behind us, more and more travelers are looking towards the solitary peace that can be found in nature’s most majestic environment, the mountains. Though, if you’re looking for a mountainside retreat or escape wherein you’re not likely to run into swarths of tourists or buzzing crowds, then this list of the mountain destinations from Southern Living is sure to set you up for success.

Time to yourself is a commodity that cannot be taken for granted in our fast-paced, technology-driven world. That’s why surrounding yourself in the Southern United States’ mountain towns that have an immense amount of small-town charm, southern hospitality, and ample supply of fresh mountain air is the perfect way to spend your time away from home this year.

As a reminder, no matter where you’re traveling to in these uncertain times, it’s always a responsible move and a good idea to check local travel advisories, city ordinances, and state mandates that may have been implemented due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Travel safely and rest assured that you’ve done your due diligence by referring to CDC travel guidelines.

Galax, Virginia

Located at the foothills of the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains is the small town of Galax, Virginia, this mountain destination is a location that’s incredibly rich in history, tradition, opportunities for recreation, and unforgettable natural beauty. Once you find yourself in this town that has its southern roots so deeply buried in country music history, you’ll find yourself wanting to spend more and more time outdoors. After a day of shopping in Galax’s quiet downtown district, consider embarking on a tubing expedition down New River, a hike along the New River Trail, or a visit to the must-see waterfalls like Foster Falls and Chestnut Creek Falls. Other outdoor pit stops that you simply shouldn’t miss out on are found along the Blue Ridge Parkway, since (after all) the town of Galax is known as the scenic gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Along the Parkway is Mabry Mill, a water mill run by the National Park Service and complete with its own crafting center, a handful of self-guided trails, and restaurant, as well as Grayson Highlands State Park, the state park located adjacent to Virginia’s two highest mountains, Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain.

Jasper, Arkansas

Located along the Little Buffalo River in Northwestern Arkansas is the celebrated city of Jasper, Arkansas.  Consistently associated with words like “quaint” and “scenic,” the town of Jasper is surrounded by the beauty generated by America’s first national river, the Buffalo National River, and where it begins to flow. Offering ample outdoor activities such as canoeing, fishing, hiking, caving, rock climbing, hunting, horseback riding, and mountain biking, Jasper’s setting of the Ozark Mountains makes it the ideal outdoor adventurer’s paradise. Located only about 60 miles southeast of Eureka Springs, Jasper offers its visitors the most bountiful expanse imaginable in the 1.2 million-acre Ozark National Forest and the Buffalo River Corridor, making Jasper the Elk Capital of Arkansas. Because these majestic animals have a proclivity of roaming Erbie, Ozark, Pruitt, Newton County, Boxley Valley, and Steel Creek in herds of 450 elk, you would benefit from stopping into the ​​Hilary Jones Wildlife Museum & Elk Information Center or Ponca Nature Center to learn more about these creatures.

Other key mountain destinations locations, indicated by the full article as being the best mountain towns that are “under the radar” are Morganton, North Carolina; Mentone, Alabama; Frostburg, Maryland;  Dillard, Georgia; Alpine, Texas; Arcadia, Missouri; and Mountain Home, Arkansas.

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The Four Longest Mountain Ranges in The World

Travel Trivia is a fun site with great travel info and trivia.  We love the recent article about the longest mountain ranges.  Mountain chains formed from similar soil and rock around the same age, sweeping across countries and sometimes, entire continents. Earth’s expansive mountain ranges stretch thousands of miles, with the longest range reaching over 4,000 miles. The world’s 4 longest mountain ranges are:

4) Transantarctic Mountains  (Length: 2,200 miles)

The fourth longest mountain range measures about 2,200 miles across the entire continent of Antarctica. The Transantarctic Mountains divide Antarctica into two halves — West Antarctica and East Antarctica. It serves as an icy wall that divides the continent in twain. An estimated 98% of the Transantarctic Mountains are covered in ice. This makes the majority of these mountains inaccessible. The highest peak is known as Mount Kirkpatrick, which reaches a ginormous height of 14,855 feet above sea level. Research has shown that more diverse plant and reptile life once existed in these mountains, as shown through the discovery of fossils, but in the modern day, the conditions in these mountains are more suited for penguins.

3) Rocky Mountains  (Length: 3,000 miles)

While it is only the third longest mountain range in the world, the Rocky Mountains are the longest mountain range in the continent of North America. Colloquially known as ‘the Rockies”, these mountains span 3,000 miles through two countries, stretching from northern British Columbia (Canada) down to New Mexico (USA).  Mount Elbert, the highest peak of this range, is found at 14,439 feet above sea level in Colorado. The Rockies formed 80 million to 55 million years ago. Since the last ice age approximately 12,000 years ago, the Rockies have been home to many indigenous peoples of the Americas, such as the Apache, Arapaho, Bannock, Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Coeur d’Alene, Crow Nation, Dunne-za, Flathead, Kalispel, Kutenai, Sekani, Shoshone, Sioux, Ute, and others. Many of these peoples hunted the now-extinct mammoth and now-endangered bison in the valleys surrounding the mountains. A majority of the mountain range is government-owned and protected park lands.

2) Southern Great Escarpment (Length: 3,100 miles)

Coming in second on this list, the Southern Great Escarpment is an African mountain range that spreads across 3,100 miles over the countries of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, and Angola. The highest peak of the Southern Great Escarpment is 11,424 feet above sea level. This peak is located in South Africa and locally called the Drakensberg. Some 180 million years ago, the Southern Great Escarpment formed. Today, the part of the mountain chain located in South Africa exists atop basalt lava with soft sandstones underneath, setting it apart from most rockier mountain ranges.

1) Andean Mountains (Length: 4,350 miles)

The Andean Mountains, most commonly referred to as The Andes, reach 4,300 miles long across southern Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and end in Venezuela. This range contains many active volcanoes, including one called Ojos del Salado on the border of Argentina and Chile. Ojos del Salado is the highest active volcano at a height of 22,615 feet above sea level. Alongside the mountains run high plateaus housing major cities like Bogota, Cali, Medellin, La Paz, and Quito. One plateau in the Andes, the Altiplano plateau, is the second-highest plateau in the world after the first-highest, the Tibetan plateau. This expansive mountain range is so long it is divided into three major categories based on climate: the Tropical Andes (located in northern countries), the Dry Andes (in Chile, northwest Argentina and Bolivia) and the Wet Andes (in CHile and Argentina at certain latitudes where there is more precipitation).

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