We are in the southeastern United States but because of the elevation, the weather is a lot more like the northeast (at AS IF Center, you’ll be in the climate equivalent of Pennsylvania; on top of Mitchell or Roan, you’ll be in Canada). In fall and spring, you will want to have a fleece along and other winter gear. We sometimes get snows as early as October and as late as March or April. Even in summer, it’s nice to have some layers, as some nights can be cool. The weather in this part of the world is extremely changeable, and on many days, it’s different from mountain to mountain. Our region gets a lot of precipitation so it’s handy to have a rain poncho, especially if you plan to spend time on area trails. You can check the forecasts at NOAA for zip code 28705 (Bakersville). Ray’s Weather also offers good weather information with a bit of local color.
Driving here is beautiful but can be a bit of a challenge. Many roads are winding and have hairpin turns. You may not be able to see a big quarry truck speeding around the corner, so just assume there is one. Remarkably, some of the roads on steep slopes don’t have guardrails, be aware of that. You may get behind a slow-driving tractor or distracted tourist, and if you do, just be patient. It’s best not to pass on mountain roads. Sometimes folks will pull over and let you come by. If you are prone to getting carsick on winding roads, some of our visitors have recommended wearing Sea Bands on your wrists- they are inexpensive, effective, and have no side effects. Also, if you plan to drive at night, keep in mind that the same very dark skies that make our region a great place for stargazing, moth observations, and fireflies also make it a little more difficult to drive at night.
On mountain roads, your cell signal will go in and out. Depending on your cell service provider, it may go out entirely for large sections of the road. That means your GPS may not be as reliable. It’s a good idea to study directions before you embark – that includes directions to AS IF Center as well as directions from AS IF to Penland, to local craft studios, to trails at Roan Mountain or Grandfather, and to sites along the Blue Ridge Parkway, etc. Directions to AS IF Center are here.
Groceries and other amenities:
AS IF Center and the High Cove community are located between the two small towns of Burnsville and Spruce Pine. Each of them have a large grocery store called Ingles which carry most groceries you’ll need, including some organic, international, and healthy choices. They also sell beer and wine. However, once you get to AS IF Center it’s a 30 minute drive to either Ingles, and the same is true for drug stores, hardware stores, etc. If you need to purchase something unusual, you may need to make a trip to Asheville for it, so do you’ll be doing yourself a favor if you buy it on your way in. You won’t be totally isolated, but you may want to stock up a bit so you can settle in and avoid the long trips to town. There are also a few local farmers markets in the area and we get a CSA delivery weekly except in winter — if you want more information about those, just ask.