#16 of 22 Boone Things To Do

Turtle Island Preserve

Turtle Island Preserve – Enjoy Hands-On Learning Opportunities on a Heritage Farm in Boone
Staff Score:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Spending time in nature allows you to learn endless lessons about the world, your community, and yourself. And that’s exactly what the Turtle Island Preserve in Boone is all about. Through their hands-on learning experiences, you’ll gain tons of knowledge and skills designed to enrich your life in practically every way possible.

- The SmokyMountains.com Local Expert Team

Do you want to get back to nature while learning skills passed down through the ages? Then, you need to go on a retreat at the Turtle Island Preserve. Set in a hidden valley on the outskirts of Boone, this Appalachian heritage farm brings people together to learn and grow side by side. While their farm serves as the base of their operations and drives every day forward, their outdoor education center is where the magic happens.

If you just want to see what happens on the farm, you can sign up for their guided tour. On that trip, you’ll take a one to two-hour stroll through the farm to see where they grow their produce, milk their goats, and so much more. As your guide leads the way, you may see other farm workers processing chickens, harnessing the mules for fieldwork, or creating new works at the blacksmith shop.

For an even more in-depth farm experience, sign up for their youth and family camps as well. Set to run for one to two weeks each, these camps will have you roughing it in tents, log houses, and the like. You’ll wake up early to participate in farm chores, and then engage in educational experiences galore. By the end of your trip, you’ll get to walk away with the knowledge of many universal truths taught by nature plus lots of impressive survival skills.

If you only have a limited amount of time to spend on the farm, attend at least one of their workshops, for sure. Designed to teach you targeted skills over just one to two days, these workshops promise to fill you with confidence while expanding your knowledge base. Each one is only available to a limited number of people, so you have to sign up early to avoid missing out on getting a spot.

Their most popular workshops include:

Blacksmithing
The Blacksmithing workshop treats you to a weekend of molding metal by hand while using traditional techniques. As you learn the foundational skills, you’ll get to create a fire poker, candleholder, hoof pick, or hook. When you’re done, you can take your skills to the next level by signing up for their knife-making class as well.

Hide Tanning
Have you always wondered just how your favorite leather items came to be? If so, you need to take the Hide Tanning workshop. In this weekend class, you’ll take whitetail deer hides and transform them into the leather by hand. Your instructor will guide you through each step until you have a handcrafted piece of leather all your own.

Fire By Friction
If you only have one day available for a workshop, the Fire By Friction workshop is the way to go. This incredible class teaches you how to create fire using friction alone, and then keep it going by building the right wood structure. By the end, you’ll have an important survival skill on your side forevermore.

At this farm, they aim to give back to their local community as well by hosting daycare programs, school retreats, and corporate outings. They even offer outreach programs for groups that cannot come to the farm. If anyone wants to give back to their organization, they can just sign up for their volunteer program. Their helping hands are vital to keeping the farm running right and ensuring they can open up their doors to the world.

Insider Tips:
-If you’re driving an electric vehicle or any other lowered car, you may have trouble navigating up their steep gravel road.
-When you book your trip, write down the directions they give you. GPS maps often fall short of getting you past the mailbox.
-They don’t always run their camps, workshops, and other programs every year. So, you will need to check their website or call to see what’s offered before planning your trip.