Tower construction is complete and they are “unofficially” open to the public. They should have an official opening next month but we are not keeping visitors from the tower.
Access to Mount Mitchell State Park is limited to the Northeast end of the Blue Ridge Parkway (from State Route 80). The Parkway is still closed between Mt. Mitchell and Asheville with a detour to Route 80.
The Parkway hopes to have one lane open by May 15th, 2009 which would then allow access. You can contact the Blue Ridge Parkway for more information if you like. NPS / BRP Road Closure Information
(Thanks to Maschelle Peyton at Mount Mitchell State Park for this update.)
The tower looks very similar to the one on Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee but without the long walk involved. In fact, one ofthe main reasons the North Carolina State Park system decided to replace it was to make it more handicapped accessible.
Rangers will be able to take disabled visitors up to the new tower in golf carts and walkers will find that the ramp is shorter and smoother than the one to the previous tower.
Many thanks to Don Walton, fellow Highpointer and member of The Carolina Mountain Club for this update from North Carolina.
The park can only be accessed from the north on the Blue Ridge Parkway and is closed indefinitely from Mount Mitchell State Park to a point 12 miles South at Craggy Gardens mile post marker 364.72. The Parkway is closed to automobiles, bicycles and hikers due to a failing retaining wall.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, a detour is currently in place due to a slide and that portion of the Parkway may remain closed to perform the work until April 1, 2009. After April 1, 2009, a minimum of one lane of traffic must be open to the public at all times. After May 16, 2009, both lanes must be open to the public at all times.
A new observation deck at the summit of Mount Mitchell is under construction, closing the summit area and detouring trails to the summit parking area. The new observation deck is projected for completion in the fall of 2008. For more information phone (828) 675-4611 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.