#12 of 26 Boone Things To Do

Howards Knob County Park

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Enjoy Breathtaking Panoramic Views of Boone at Howard's Knob Park
Staff Score:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Providing the best panoramic views in all the high country, Howard’s Knob Park is the place to go to see the beautiful town of Boone, NC, from 1,000 feet up. Visit this park to enjoy an easy walk to the aerial viewpoint, perfect for those who do not want to hike for miles to earn the payoff of a great vista. 

- The SmokyMountains.com Local Expert Team

Named after British loyalist and contemporary of Daniel Boone, Benjamin Howard, Howard Knob, the site of Howard’s Knob Park is located in the town of Boone, North Carolina. Interestingly enough, the knob which would one day bear his name was where Benjamin Howard hid from the Whigs.

As part of the surrounding Appalachian Mountain Range, Howard’s Knob Park is known to locals and tourists alike. This small park overlooks both the town of Boone and Appalachian State University, giving beautiful, panoramic views of the area below. When visiting, it’s helpful to note that Howard’s Knob features picnic tables as well as a picnic shelter, parking spots, and trash cans,  as well as offering portable restroom access.

In 1979, the world’s largest windmill was constructed at Howard’s Knob. However, according to residents and visitors, this windmill also happened to be pretty noisy. Therefore, the experiment with the turbine was short-lived, and the windmill was dismantled in 1983 and the locale was officially turned into a park.

Due to the amazing views at Howard’s Knob Park, the area has long been targeted by residential developers. Thankfully, in 2004, owners of a 50-acre track on Howard Knob allied with the High Country Conservancy to protect 46 acres as a forested, natural area, with an allowance for small shelters and hiking trails.

According to a US Geological Survey, the proper name of the location is Howard Knob, though it is known as Howard’s Knob by many locals and tourists. The mountain elevation is 4,396 feet above sea level, and it rises nearly 1,000 feet above the campus of Appalachian State University and the lovely town of Boone.

Once you enjoy the views of the historic town of Boone, NC, from the panoramic vantage point of Howard’s Knob Park, you can make your way down the mountain and see what all the town has to offer. You can enjoy the Downtown Boone Self-Guided Walking Tour. This small mountain community was first fashioned around a store. Therefore, in its earliest history, it was named Council’s Store. However, in 1850, it was renamed to honor pioneer Daniel Boone and was incorporated into an official town in 1872.

As part of your walking down in downtown Boone, you will see the Jones House, Mast General Store, the Doc Watson Statue, the Downtown Boone Post Office, the Linney House, the Chocolate Bar, the Junaluska Community, the Watauga County Library, Farmer’s Hardware Building, Ranson/Rivers Printing, the Ginseng Market, the Daniel Boone Trail Marker, the 1940 Flood Marker, and much, much, more.

Getting back to the forested knoll at Howard’s Knob Park, many guests rave about it being an ideal location for those who can’t walk too far as you can conveniently park just 50 feet from the aerial view of the town below. The gate allowing guest access is closed throughout winter, so it’s best to plan a visit in either the Spring, Summer, or Fall.

Guests can still walk up in the winter, it just isn’t as close access due to the closed gate. Guests claim the walk is still considered short, as the paved pathway doesn’t even take 10 minutes to traverse. Of course, during the winter you won’t be able to enjoy the greenery, astounding fall foliage, or the beautiful rhododendron that are so prevalent throughout other times of the year.

Keep in mind when you plan to drive to visit Howard’s Knob Park, that the drive up is pretty steep. However, the views you will enjoy are absolutely worth the effort to make your way to the top. You will not find a better view of the picturesque town of Boone or the college anywhere else in the high country. This is for sure a perfect photo opportunity. Of course, it’s also the perfect place to find stillness, meditate, or just enjoy looking at nature with nothing at all on the agenda.

Insider Tips:
-The parking area for the overlook is located near an open meadow. It’s just a short walk from there to the overlook.
-The one-way road that leads to Howard’s Knob Park runs through the area counter-clockwise.