Altapass Conservation Area

Did You Know? Protecting land along the Blue Ridge Parkway is more than counting acres and preserving views. It serves a deeper conservation purpose.

CTNC’s land protection team continues building trusting relationships with partners and landowners up and down the Parkway. Along the Mitchell-McDowell County line, we are strengthening the economic vitality of nearby communities through tourism, outdoor recreation, historic preservation, and protection of the Altapass conservation area, anchored by the iconic Orchard at Altapass.

Milepost: 324-329

Protected: 1,914 Acres

Prioritization Features: Recreation, economic development & tourism, water quality, agricultural preservation, cultural & historic preservation, community + collaborative partnerships

Blue Ridge Parkway tourism is the primary economic engine for communities and businesses in Western North Carolina. The Altapass conservation area stands as a cultural and historical landmark. The Orchard at Altapass (Milepost 328) is a historic working apple orchard that began planting apple trees in 1908. It is one of the oldest in North Carolina that’s still in operation today. The Orchard boasts multiple walking trails open to the public during business hours. Daily live local music and storytelling preserves the historic mountain culture of this unique region. If you’re there at the right time, you can pick your own heirloom apples as you visit! 

The Orchard at Altapass isn’t the only cultural-historic landmark CTNC has protected in our Altapass conservation area; some of our roots run much deeper. CTNC has protected three miles of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, a historic Native American trading route, and the path taken by patriot militiamen during the American Revolution. We encourage you to stop at Heffner Gap (Milepost 326) and enjoy the protected views and stretch your legs on this national historic trail and land we protected. 

In total, CTNC has conserved more than 4,300 acres across 14 properties through a diverse range of conservation methods spanning 4.3 Parkway miles. This collaborative conservation effort aims to sustain operations of The Orchard for the long-term benefit of residents and park visitors, preserve the Blue Ridge Parkway’s iconic views, and safeguard the springs feeding into Peppers Creek in the Catawba River basin which provides drinking water to over 2 million North and South Carolinians.

Preserving land along the Parkway does not exclusively benefit those residing in Western NC, but throughout the entire state and beyond. Free access to recreational areas, protecting clean drinking water, furthering climate resilience, and ensuring that the natural beauty of our state is preserved for future generations are just a few of the reasons why land conservation along the Blue Ridge Parkway is so critical.

Where to Find Altapass Conservation Area


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