February’s Must See Location: North Carolina’s Shadow of a Bear!

Photo by Eduardo Moreira; Courtesy of Pineapple Public Relations

If you happen to be within ten thousand miles of North Carolina’s Jackson County next month (late February to mid March), then there is absolutely no excuse for not taking a scenic drive along Highway 64, just west of the community of Cashiers, to check out what may very well be the absolute coolest thing you have ever seen in your life… ever!

Each evening, this time of year and again in early fall, the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina is the backdrop of the largest and oldest Black Bear in the history of the planet!

Appearing just as the setting sun begins to near the horizon, the thousand yard silhouette begins in the shape of a turtle and slowly morphs into a Black Bear, the undisputed King of the Appalachian Mountains.

According to locals, this phenomenon occurs around 4:30 p.m. in February and can best be spotted from the Rhodes Big View Overlook, atop Whiteside Mountain in Cashiers.

The mountain upon which the bear makes an appearance is almost a mile above sea level and within shouting distance of the point where the states of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina all intersect.

The region around Cashiers, North Carolina, is one of the Tar Heel State’s most independent minded communities.  In 1927, the North Carolina General Assembly granted the tiny hamlet a charter to incorporate as a town, however, the townspeople simply placed the document on a shelf and refused to institute a local government.

In 2003, the General Assembly again passed legislation requesting the community to incorporate as a village, but — like their predecessors from 88 years ago — the townspeople refused to do so; unwilling to face additional local taxes or an added layer of government.

One word of caution to the traveler, unlike the townspeople she graces, the Cashers Black Bear can be a little fickle.  Several conditions such as humidity, cloud cover and even vegetation can play havoc with the bear’s figure!  We strongly recommend contacting the Jackson County tourism’s office before setting out to see the bear — they should be able to provide the traveler with more accurate times and conditions.

Like articles like this? Then you would love Appalachian Magazine’s Mountain Voice: 2017: A Collection of Memories, Histories, and Tall Tales of Appalachia!  Click here to check out the book on Amazon!

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