The North Carolina Mountains are full of survival gurus – from well-educated professionals to mountain elders with vast experience. This article aims to show you a few of the many survivalists you can look to in your own quest to learn survival skills. Survival skills are great to have because you never really know when you may need them. Today, “prepping” has become a cottage industry. People are prepping for Armageddon, prepping for an EMP attack or other type of war event, prepping for possible martial law, or for natural disasters, such as hurricanes.

In yesteryear, our forefathers and foremothers prepped just as a way of life. They grew abundant gardens in spring, summer and fall. They consumed what they could on the family dinner table and preserved much of it to enjoy in the coming lean winter. Hunting was not a sport; it was a means of adding to the family diet for survival. Dried beans were a staple of the long winter months, as well as root vegetables.

Our ancestors kept livestock also for survival and learned how to dress it, can it, cure it, smoke it and, thus, preserve it for the months ahead. Backyard chickens provided eggs for daily breakfast and meat for Sunday dinner. Almost every farm family had at least one Jersey cow for milk and cheese, as well as a goat for goat milk, cheese, soaps and lotions. Such skills were vanishing from our memories as the older generations died, but today they are becoming valued again as we recognize the many potential disasters we may encounter.

During World War II, there was a government program called “Victory Gardens.” Through ads and literature, the U.S. government encouraged every family to plant a garden. Times were tough during the Great Depression and backyard gardens stretched the family food budget and supplied wholesome nutrition. Many ladies volunteered with President Roosevelt’s Agricultural Extension Agency to teach homeowners how to preserve their garden bounty. Their pantries were no doubt full of homemade jams, jellies, pickles and the like. All of these were once a way of life, but now are valuable skills we can learn to prepare ourselves for anything the future may hold.

Things to do in North Carolina Mountains: Take a Survival Course

Wilderness Survival School: Meet the survival gurus at Nantahala Outdoor Center in Bryson City, North Carolina. While this company offers many things to do in North Carolina related to recreation (hiking, whitewater rafting, kayaking, mountain biking, etc.), they also hire and train survival gurus. For $226.60 (subject to change) per person, you could take a two-day, hands-on course on surviving in the wilderness. Geared mainly toward mountain hikers who may find themselves lost, the course teaches you how to “keep warm, safe, comfortable, fed and oriented” in a survival situation. They’ll teach you skills like making a shelter out of whatever materials are available, starting a fire and how to deal with dangers you might find in the forest. Bryson City is located to the south of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and just a short drive from Waynesville and Maggie Valley at the gateway to the Smokies.

Things to do in North Carolina Mountains: Learn Gardening Skills

Just as when it was first established, the Agricultural Extension Agency or National Institute of Food and Agriculture is still a wealth of information on how to grow vegetables and fruits, how to preserve vegetables and fruits, and everything you need to know about your particular gardening zone. It has literally thousands of pages of information, booklets, how-to articles and even videos and photographs that are available to every United States citizen – most of it free and without cost of any kind. Here, you can learn what to plant in your area and the right time to plant it. How many hours of sunshine the plant will need, to what depth to place your seeds and how far apart to space them. The NIFA operates under the auspices of the Food and Drug Administration. You don’t have to go very far to find a gardening survival guru – the Extension Agency employs hundreds of them, and their job is to help you. Find your local county office or website and get started with your gardening skills journey today.

Stay in Maggie Valley, North Carolina

Located at 3878 Soco Road, right in the heart of Maggie Valley, just minutes from the Cataloochee Ski Area, Meadowlark Motel offers spacious accommodations, from guestrooms to a cottage or cabin. Many accommodations feature jetted tubs, microwaves and refrigerators. Receive free dog treats at check-in for your furry family member at this scenic mountain Creekside lodging. Meadowlark is just a short drive from the Nantahala Outdoor Center, and is located right in the center of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and just minutes from America’s most scenic drive – the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Nestled on the banks of state-stocked Jonathan Creek, Meadowlark Motel boasts an outdoor pavilion with a fully equipped kitchen for group events. They offer a Creekside recreation area with grills and outdoor furniture, where you can relax and roast hotdogs and marshmallows by the fire. Enjoy their complimentary Continental breakfast, complimentary Wi-Fi and an array of unique guest services, such as wine and craft beer tastings, in-room spa services and Saturday night cookouts. During the warmer months, take a dip in the outdoor pool. Check out their current deals and packages, and use them toward your vacation of fun-filled, educational things to do in North Carolina.


Photo by Roger Steinbacher on Unsplash