It’s no secret. The fresh escape of the North Carolina Smoky Mountains has been attracting visitors from near and far for centuries, increasing popularity as a premier vacation destination over the years. The area’s southern hospitality meshed with the laid-back nature of mountain locals offer a much-needed respite from the hustle and bustle of the daily routine. The crisp mountain air awakens the senses, and everywhere you turn the natural beauty inspires the soul.
Haywood County—situated in the heart of Western North Carolina, surrounded by the ridges of the ancient Blue Ridge and Great Smoky mountains—is comprised of 546 scenic square miles of spectacular country, with beautiful Appalachian mountains and valleys dotting the landscape. Thirteen of its mountain peaks soar to elevations of at least 6,000 feet, making it one of the highest counties—with a mean elevation of 3,600 feet—east of the Rockies.
Notable mountain peaks include the 6,030-foot Cold Mountain, which served as the basis and inspiration for Charles Frazier’s award-winning, best-selling novel and the ensuing 2003 major motion picture. Mt. Guyot, at 6,621 feet, and Richland Balsam, at 6,410 feet, are the tallest peaks within Haywood County.
First established in 1808, Haywood County was named for John Haywood, the North Carolina treasurer from 1787 to 1827. The county sits at the western edge of the state, with a 46-mile stretch of the Blue
Ridge Parkway (appropriately called “America’s Favorite Drive”) running along its southwestern border. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Pisgah National Forest are located in the northern section of the county.
Unlike the other 99 counties in North Carolina, all of the water in Haywood County originates in Haywood County, including the Pigeon River. With four distinctive seasons, Haywood County has much to offer visitors throughout the entire year. The annual average temperature is 54 degrees; the temperature averages 38 degrees in January and 71 degrees in June. Haywood County averages 47.5 inches of rainfall and 12.2 inches of snowfall each year.
Four towns—Maggie Valley, Waynesville, Canton, and Clyde—are located within the county, which has a population of about 60,000 people.
Tourism Fresh Facts
Domestic tourism in Haywood County generated an economic impact of $155.38 million in 2013. This was a 4.54 % change from 2012.
In 2014, Haywood County ranked 27 in travel impact among North Carolina’s 100 Counties.
More than 1,610 jobs in Haywood County were directly attributable to travel and tourism.
Travel generated a $31.48 million payroll in 2013.
State and local tax revenues from travel to Haywood County amounted to $14.11 million. This represents a $236.39 tax saving to each county resident.
Major attractions include the Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Cataloochee Ski Area, Wheels Through Time Museum, and the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts.
* Study was prepared for the North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development by the US Travel Association