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The Truth About Carter County, Tennessee

There are some who may snicker a little when you tell them you live in the greatest place on earth, especially if you live in the south. Many southern states have a bad reputation for rampant racism, drugs and lower standards of education. Sure, Carter County has had its fair share of all of those at some point throughout the years, but as a community with a population of just over 56,000, the people have worked hard to come together as a close-knit community to build up those who are less fortunate and help those who need it the most.

Carter County is home to many ministries, both religious and non, who work closely with the community to improve the standard of living, guide those who are lost and help those who lack the basic resources to live. Several local ministries that include Recovery Soldiers Ministries and Red Legacy Recovery are there for men and women who have fallen captive to the drug culture and need a little guidance and compassion to start life anew.

The county is also home to Isaiah 117, a home that was put in place through one family’s passion for children in foster care and the desire to go a step above to help children who need help the most. The home provides a safe, nurturing space for children who are placed in foster care to be able to transition from their home to a foster home without having to sit in a cold, harsh office setting. Isaiah 117 helps with food, shelter and clothing and they have thrived due to local support from the community. You can learn more about founders Corey and Rhonda Paulson and Isaiah 177 on the website: http://www.isaiah117house.com/.

The bottom line on this is that there are some great people living in Carter County that take pride in doing what they can for their neighbors, and when you have people who care so much, it’s easy to see that the community has a heart. The truth is, between the wonderful people living in the community and the amazing natural beauty, life doesn’t get much better than time spent in beautiful Carter County, Tennessee.  


The Best Things in Life Really Are Free

One of the best things about Carter County, Tennessee is what you find in abundance and that is; Nature in all its wonderful glory! Carter County is a magical place waiting to be explored.

Carter County is essentially home to a mountainous playground where people of all ages and levels of health can enjoy trekking out to the local rivers and lakes and mountains for a wealth of fun and relaxation in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Seriously, this area of the country is alive with spacious mountain ranges, sparkling lakes that are packed with the biggest fish you’ll ever catch and rivers where the rapids run wild and white-water rafting is a favored pastime of many.

Let’s look at some of the best places to visit in Carter County, Tennessee:




Laurel Fork Falls, Hampton, TN

Laurel Fork Falls is a great place for a family outing, a romantic hike or even just a getaway to clear your head from the stress of work and life. The falls are in Dennis Cove in Hampton, Tennessee and locals enjoy the hike year-round, although summer is the best time for those who want to play in the water. In the spring and early summer, you’ll want to watch out for bears but keep in mind this is the wilderness and they were here first!  The hike from the parking lot to the falls is just over 1 mile, and then you’ll take a hike down a steep hill to reach the bottom of the falls. Plan on spending some time breathing the fresh mountain air and splashing in the cold mountain water before heading back up to the top. This place is amazing and it’s a popular stop for those hiking the Appalachian Trail.


Watauga Lake

During the summer, Watauga Lake bursts to life with children and adults water skiing, swimming at the recreation areas and boating or even taking much needed time to do a little fishing from the banks surrounding the lake. On July 4th every year, locals head to the lake to watch the sky light up with colorful fireworks. If you have a boat, the view is spectacular! Watauga Lake is also known for being home to the biggest Largemouth Bass and Rainbow Trout you will ever catch but you can also find Crappie, Walleye and Black Bass in these beautiful waters. For visitors, there are several lakeside resorts where you can rent a cabin and stay a while.




Blue Hole Falls

Located just off Highway 91 in Carter County, Blue Hole Falls has long been a popular place for residents of Carter County as well as surrounding areas of Tennessee to spend hours on end cliff diving or splashing around in the ice-cold water below the falls. A tri-level water fall display awaits you after a short walk down from the parking lot above. You will want to wear shoes with good grip on the bottom and never go without a buddy or two because the walk down is steep but climbing out is can be tough because the man-made stairway consists of tall steps and slippery ground.




Roan Mountain State Park

Roan Mountain State Park features more than 12 miles of hiking tails and 3 miles of bicycle trails to explore. You can head down to Doe River to go fishing for the day or cool down with a swim, or you can swim in the parks swimming pool after a long day of hiking.

One of the most popular hikes in all of Carter County is to the top of Roan Mountain where you can see for miles around on a clear day ad it can be accessed by starting at Carver’s Gap and taking one of the trails to the top. There are several trails and you will want to check the map to see which is best suited for your fitness level.

The campground at Roan Mountain has 87 RV camping spots and 20 tent camping spots that include grills and picnic tables where families can spend several days enjoying the great outdoors together. You can also rent a cabin where you will have all the amenities of home in a peaceful setting where you can explore the wilderness around you. The park hosts many events each year that include historical reenactments, eco exploration, holiday celebrations and much more. If you visit Carter County, you should check out Roan Mountain State Park.


Farmers Market

The Roan Mountain Farmers Market is open to the public from May 6 through October 6 every Saturday from 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM and they are home to some of the most delicious fruits and vegetables grown locally. You can also find local honey and crafts made by some of the talented folks living in Roan Mountain. Be sure to add the market to your itinerary when you visit Carter County.


For more great information about Roan Mountain, be sure to visit the Visit Roan Mountain website at this link: http://visitroanmountain.com/.




Thrill Seekers Love Carter County!

If you have ever dreamed of riding the rapids down a winding river, Ziplining between the trees or shouting from a mountain top, Carter County is the place where dreams become reality for those who take time to explore the local thrill scene.


There are several great spots to white water raft including the Doe River, Elk River, Watauga River and Laurel Fork Creek in Carter County. Whether you prefer a gentle float down a lazy river or you want to experience the tougher side of rafting with an extreme adventure on some rugged rapids, you’re going to find everything you want with one of local rafting companies dedicated to the local rafting sources.

Ziplining and More

Off The Grid Mountain Adventures in Elizabethton hosts a wide array of fun for those who like to defy death. From Ziplining down more than 3000 feet of line moving at speeds up to 60 mph to base jumping or repelling from a 60-foot tower and more, this company has it all. You can rent and ATV and ride through more than 76 acres of wilderness. They also have a giant swing that lifts riders to a height of 50 feet and then swings at up to 50 mph. Visitors to Off The Grid can satisfy their hunger for all things intense in all types of weather as long as it is not lightning. As one of the newest additions to the Carter County scene, this has become one of the most popular places for residents as well as visitors to the county.


Appalachian Trail Hiking

The Appalachian Trail runs throughout Carter County and while many may not consider it as “thrill seeking” it is one of the biggest attractions in the county. Hikers who are traveling along the Appalachian Trail frequently stop in Carter County for a meal, a good night of sleep and to catch some socialization with the locals at restaurants, retail shops and other businesses. The trail passes through Laurel Falls, Shook Branch at Watauga lake, Roan Mountain and throughout the mountainous wilderness of the county. You will know you’re on the Appalachian Trail from signs along the trail or from white markers placed on the trees.


Camping in Carter County



While camping may not be considered an “extreme sport” it is a great way to spend a family vacation, especially when it’s warm outside. Carter County has many places for families and individuals to spend a night or two or even a week or longer camping in the wild. If you prefer to stay in a cabin where you can experience the great outdoors but still have your coffee pot and access to air conditioning, that is available as well. One of the most important things that matter to those who own the campgrounds is making sure guests are happy with the time spent in the area.

You will find more than 20 local campgrounds and cabin rental facilities throughout the county with a selection of RV camping spots as well as tent camping and more. You can choose to stay in a campground where you’ll have access to restrooms and showers as well as electric hookups for campers and running water, or you can choose to experience life with a little more rugged approach and pitch a tent in the woods. Be sure to check to make sure pitching a tent in the wild is allowed as some areas do not allow tent camping due to local ordinances.

Nothing makes a hot summer night better than a campfire, S’mores and a few good tales while sitting around a campfire.

There are many things to do in the local area including dining at some of the best restaurants in the southern United States, catching a classic car show or just socializing within the local community at the local drive in theater, a baseball or football game or at one of the more than 130 local churches spread out in the county. You will find adventure and spectacular scenic beauty around every turn you make when you visit Carter County, Tennessee.


Be sure to check these great places out:


Tourism: For more information about Carter County, Tennessee and all it offers for visitors, be sure to visit the Carter County Tourism website at this link: https://tourcartercounty.com/.


Local Government: You can also visit the Carter County Government page to find links to local recreation, economic development and even employment opportunities in the county at this link: http://www.cartercountytn.gov/.


Chamber of Commerce: Visit the Elizabethton Carter County Chamber of Commerce to keep up on local business as well as local news and events. http://www.elizabethtonchamber.com/.

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