Asheville Travel Practicalities


This section covers the basic practical information -- such as getting cash from ATMs, cell phone service, local radio stations, emergency medical care and getting to and around the area -- that you need when you travel in Asheville and the mountains.



The telephone area code for Asheville and the rest of Western North Carolina is 828.



You’ll have no problems getting cash from ATMs in Asheville and Western North Carolina. National and large regional banks with locations in the Asheville include Bank of America, Wells Fargo, First Bank, Truist, TD Bank and First Citizens Bank, all with ATMs.  There are other smaller local banks, credit unions and savings banks, nearly all with ATMs that accept cards on the major networks such as Plus, Cirrus, MasterCard and Visa. Keep in mind that you will usually be charged a fee for using an ATM that is not a part of your home bank’s system.



Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile (and the smaller companies that tack on to their cell systems) all offer decent but not perfect coverage in Asheville and Western North Carolina.  The mountain terrain can play havoc with cell service, which can vary from valley to valley. Service in national park and national forest areas with few if any cell towers may be limited or non-existent.



The crime rate in the Asheville and Western North Carolina is generally low to moderate. Based on statistics by law enforcement, most major crime rates in Bun-combe County and in surrounding counties in WNC are somewhat lower than state and national averages.


Buncombe County Sheriff Quentin Miller said the Sheriff’s Office saw a decline in violent crimes such as robbery,  rape, murder and assaults in 2021, down 26% from the year before. Asheville Police reported a small decline, about 7%, in violent crimes in 2021 compared to 2020. The crime dashboard on the Asheville police department website ( reported that in the one-year period from mid-2021 to mid-2022, violent crime in Asheville dropped 10% and property crime fell 20%. However, a 21% increase in the number of homeless people in Asheville in 2022 gave some the impression that crime may be increasing.


The Asheville police department, like law enforcement agencies in many other places, has seen an exodus of trained officers. Nearly one-fourth of the police officer slots were vacant in 2022, despite the department offering a $5,000 hiring bonus and other incentives for experienced officers.


The usual precautions for visitors to the Asheville area are the same as those given to travelers elsewhere: Be aware of your surroundings, noting people or places that just don’t “look right.” At night, park and walk in well-lighted areas. Don’t flash large amounts of cash. Avoid walking alone in isolated areas late at night. Protect your PIN when using ATMs. Don’t leave valuables such as purses, cameras or cell phones in view in parked vehicles. If you see a crime or fear being involved yourself, call 911 immediately.




Asheville is more “drug-friendly” than many other cities in North Carolina or the South. In North Carolina, but possession and distribution of even marijuana is still against the law. Possession of less than ½ ounce has been decriminalized. Possession of 1/2 ounce or less of marijuana is a Class 3 misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $200. Any sentence of imprisonment imposed for this offense must be suspended. Ac-cording to NORML, possession of more than 0.5 to 1.5 ounces is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by 1 to 45 days imprisonment and a discretionary fine for a first offense, and maximum fine of $1000. Possession with intent to distribute less than 10 pounds of marijuana is a class I felony punishable by 3 to 8 months imprisonment and a discretionary fine for a first offense. Possession of more than 10 pounds is a more serious felony, with conviction carrying various prison sentences depending on the amount. Cultivation of less than 10 pounds of marijuana is a class I felony punishable by 3 to 8 months imprisonment and a discretionary fine for a first offense.


The North Carolina Legislature has considered medical marijuana but has not yet approved it. However, the state has passed a low THC  law allowing for the use of cannabis extracts that are high in CBD and low in THC in instances where a physician has recommended such treatment to a patient with a state-qualifying condition.


A good number of people in Asheville smoke weed fairly openly at outdoor events or elsewhere. Outside of Asheville, including in rural Buncombe County, law enforcement may be more rigid.

Psychedelic mushrooms and acid also are fairly common in Asheville, but police may arrest and charge for possession. In North Carolina, possession of psychedelic mushrooms is a Class 1 felony. Police pursue use and distribution of harder drugs fairly aggressively. Meth labs are a problem in some rural areas of the state. Opioids are a continuing problem in North Carolina as elsewhere.
































The vast majority of visitors to Asheville – around 95% – arrive by car. Two interstates go through Asheville: I-40 (a major east-west highway, 2,559 miles long, that connects Wilmington, N.C., with Barstow, Calif., running through Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona) and I-26 (a newer interstate connecting Kingsport, Tenn., and Charleston, S.C.) As it crosses the country, I-40 connects with eight of the 10 major north-south interstates.

I-26 to the northwest connects with I-75 and U.S. Highway 23 through Ohio to the Great Lakes, and to the southeast connects with interstates 20, 77, 85 and 95.


The most scenic route to Asheville is the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Western North Carolina. The parkway has seven entrance/exits in the Asheville area. (See the Blue Ridge Parkway.)


You can also reach Asheville via U.S. Highways U.S. 19/23, 25, 25A, 70 and 74 as well as on a number of secondary North Carolina roads.


Distance to Asheville by Car

These are distances in miles and time (assuming you drove the speed limit and didn’t stop) from selected cities, via the shortest routes by time, using primarily interstate highways. Your time and mileage may vary.


Atlanta                          208       3¾ hours

Boston                          917      15 hours

Birmingham                  371       6 hours

Charleston, S.C.           267       4¼ hours

Charlotte                       127       2¼ hours

Chicago                         659      10½ hours

Cincinnati                      365        6 hours

Columbia, S.C.              157       2½ hours

Dallas                            958       15 hours

Denver                         1452       22 hours

Greenville, S.C.               63       1¼ hours

Houston                       1001      16 hours

Kansas City                    851     13½ hours

Knoxville                        116         2 hours

Los Angeles                 2300       34 hours

Louisville                         360        6 hours

Nags Head, N.C.            444       7½ hours

Nashville                        294        5 hours

New Orleans                  677       11 hours

New York City                690        11 hours

Orlando                         586           9 hours

Philadelphia                  628         10 hours

Portland, Ore.              2647         40 hours

Raleigh                          246           4 hours

Savannah                      311           5 hours

Tampa                           642           10 hours

Toronto                          788           13 hours

Washington, D.C.           470          7½ hours

Wilmington, N.C.            360          6 hours

Winston-Salem              145           2½ hours



Asheville Regional Airport is the primary airport serving Asheville and most of Western North Carolina. Travelers to the southern mountains near the South Carolina line might also consider the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport. Another option is the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, a little over two hours from Asheville, which has flights from most major U.S. cities and a number of international destinations in Europe, the Caribbean, Central America and Canada.


Asheville Regional Airport (AVL, 61 Terminal Dr., Fletcher, 828-684-2226;

near Exit 40 of I-26 is about 16 miles or 20-25 minutes from Down-town Asheville, depending on traffic. The airport originally opened in 1961 and has expanded several times since, including major expansions in 2009, 2014-15 and 2017-18. The latest is the addition of a $22 million, five-story 1,100-space parking garage. The garage augments 800 surface parking spaces. In 2014-2015, the airport expanded its taxiway on a 45-acre tract. Currently the airport’s runway is 8,001 feet long, enough to handle most aircraft except heavily loaded wide body equipment such as 747s. AVL operates 24 hours a day, and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) check-point opens at 4:30 am.  The biggest development project at the airport since the air-port was built is now underway, involving redevelopment of the airport’s airfield and expansion of the terminal building to provide 12 jetbridge gates, nearly doubling its size.


AVL is a pleasant, modern, easy-to-deal-with small airport. Bounding back from the Covid pandemic, the airport rebounded quickly and handled more than 1.8 million passengers in 2022, or an average of more than 5,000 a day. It is the third-busiest air-port in North Carolina, after Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham. Airlines serving the air-port include Allegiant, American, Delta, JetBlue, Sun Country and United. Most flights are on regional jets, and many flights have both first and economy class service.


AVL has nonstop flights to 25 destinations. Currently nonstops from AVL include flights to Atlanta (ATL), Charlotte (CLT), Chicago O’Hare (ORD) and Chicago Midway (MDW), Dallas (DFW), Denver (DEN), Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Interna-tional (FLL), Houston (IAH), Las Vegas (LAS), Newark (EWR), Miam (MIA), New York LaGuardia (LGA), Orlando Sanford (SFB), Phoenix (PHX), Sarasota-Bradenton International (SRQ), Tampa/St. Petersburg (PIE), Washington, D.C. Dulles International (IAD) and West Palm Beach (PBI).  Some flights are seasonal or less than daily.


Many flights from AVL are short hops to Atlanta (hub for Delta and a “focus city” for Southwest, and the world’s busiest airport with more than 75 million passengers annually) and Charlotte (a major hub for American).


From Atlanta and Charlotte, passengers originating in Asheville have access to some 300 total non-stop and direct destinations.


In 2014, an MIT International Center for Transportation study named Asheville Regional Airport the best connected non-hub airport in the United States. In 2018, Bloomberg News reported AVL was the second-fasting growing airport in the country, behind Destin, Fla.


A Guest Services and Welcome Center counter (828-209-3660, email is near the baggage claim. It can offer assistance on transportation op-tions, flights, directions and other matters. Hours vary. There is free wi-fi throughout the terminal. An ATM is in the main lobby. A restaurant, Blue Ridge Trading & Tavern, in the post-security area, opens daily at 4:30 a.m. and closes after the last flight of in the evening.


The airport has five on-site rental car agencies including Avis, Budget, Dollar/Thrifty, Hertz, National/Alamo and Enterprise. Dollar/Thrifty has a shuttle to its offsite location. In the terminal are a restaurant, café and bar, ATM, newsstand and gift shop and an art gallery. There is free wi-fi throughout the terminal.


The Asheville Regional Airport offers TSA Pre-Check, allowing passengers with Pre-Check avoid taking off shoes and belts, opening computers, etc.


There are short-, daily- and long-term surface parking lots and a five-story park-ing garage with all covered parking directly across from the terminal. All together, there is a total of about 1,900 spaces. Short-term rates in the surface lot are $1 for the first half hour and $1 for each additional half hour, up to a maximum of $25 a day; garage rates are $2 for the first hour, $2 for each additional hour, flat rate of $13 a day and a $78 maximum rate weekly (seventh day is free); daily lot rates are $2 for first hour, $2 for each additional hour, up to $10 a day or $60 a week; long-term surface parking rates are $2 for the first hour, $2 for each additional hour, $10 a day up to a maxi-mum of $60 per week. Payment is by credit card only. All handicapped park spaces are charged at the long-term rates. Demand for parking spaces can be high during peak travel periods, and lots may be full. The airport recommends arriving at least two hours in advance of your flight in order to find parking. A cell phone waiting lot is available for those who are picking up arriving passengers.


The airport has two electric vehicle-charging stations (7.2KW, 240V) located in the short-term parking area near entrance to garage; charging is free, but regular parking rates apply. Vehicles parked in any parking lot for more than 30 days will be considered abandoned unless the customer has notified the parking contractor in advance.


Besides rental cars, the Asheville Regional Airport has taxi, rideshare, limo, shuttle and bus service to Downtown Asheville and elsewhere.


Bus service is cheap but slow. Trips on the Asheville Redefines Transit or ART system (828-253-5691, are $1 (50 cents for students 6-19 and seniors 65 and over). Service to Downtown Asheville, Route S3, from the WNC Ag Center Park-n-Ride is about every 90 minutes from 6:10 am to 9:10 pm. From the main ART station in Asheville to the airport service begins at 5:30 am to 8:30 pm. Service is reduced slightly on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. It takes about 80 minutes from the airport to Downtown Asheville and about 85 minutes from ART’s Coxe Avenue central station in Downtown Asheville to the airport.


Henderson County’s Apple Country Transit  (828-698-8571, also serves the airport, connecting the airport with the towns of Fletcher and Hendersonville. The service operates Monday through Friday from 6:30 am until 6:30 pm, arriving and leaving the airport parking lot to connect with the Asheville ART. No weekend service. Fare is 75 cents.


Taxi rates in Asheville are $3 per mile plus a $2.50 drop charge, with a 40-cent charge for each 2 minutes of wait time. A taxi from the airport to Downtown Asheville runs about $45-$55 plus tip.

Lyft and Uber also pick up and drop off at the airport. The designated pickup area for Uber and Lyft is located past the north end of the airport terminal, where vehi-cles pull up to the airport terminal at the opposite end from baggage claim. If arriving on a flight to Asheville, walk left after exiting the terminal and walk to the marked Ride App Pickup Zone. Get an estimated cost from your Uber or Lyft app. Rates vary depending on traffic and surge pricing.


Several shuttles and limousines offer flat rate service to different destinations in Western North Carolina including Asheville, Black Mountain, Waynesville and Cherokee. Rates vary, but figure about $40-$50 to Downtown Asheville, $55-$60 to Black Mountain, $75-$85 to Waynesville and $125-$150 to the Great Smokies entrance at Cherokee.


Also, about 10 area motels and hotels have a free shuttle service from the airport. These are mostly airport hotels but include several properties in Asheville and elsewhere. Among recommended properties are Hampton Inn & Suites (18 Rockwood Rd., Fletcher, 828-687-0806, and Fairfield Inn (31 Airport Rd., Fletcher, 828-684-1144,, both near the airport, and Hilton Biltmore Park (43 Town Square Blvd., Asheville, 828-209-2700,, about midway to Downtown.


The general aviation facility at the airport includes fixed-base operations through Signature Flight Support, aircraft maintenance and repairs through Belle Aircraft Maintenance and flight training through WNC Aviation.


Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP, 200 GSP Dr., Greer, S.C., 864-877-7426;, about 1¼ hours by car south of Asheville, has service by Allegiant, American, Delta, Silver Airways, Southwest and United. Eastside Transportation ( provides shuttle service between Asheville and the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport.


Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT, 5501 Josh Birmingham Pkwy., Charlotte, 704-359-4000,, about 2-¼ hours southeast of Asheville, was long a major hub for US Airways. When US Air was merged into American Airlines in 2015, American maintained the airport as a major hub.  More than 90% of flights at CLT are on Americans. CLT also has service by Air Canada, Contour Airlines, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Southwest, United and others. The air-port has about 700 daily departures and service to about 185 destinations in the U.S. and internationally. CLT handled about 48 million passengers in 2021. Hickory Hop ( offers five shuttles a day from East Asheville with a change of vehicles in Hickory to CLT for $95 for the first person and $47.50 for each additional family member.



The nearest Amtrak ( stations to Asheville are in Greenville and Spartanburg, S.C., both about 1¼ hours away, and in Gastonia and Charlotte, about 2¼ hours from Asheville.

In Greenville and Spartanburg, you can connect with Amtrak’s Crescent, which travels daily between New Orleans and New York City.


Also, you can travel from Charlotte to Raleigh on Amtrak’s Piedmont; in Raleigh the Carolinian continues up the East Coast to New York City. There are three Piedmont trains daily between Charlotte and Raleigh, plus three trains daily with connecting stops.


The Piedmont and Carolinian trains are sponsored by the NC Department of Transportation and operated by Amtrak. Passengers in Raleigh use the new Raleigh U-ion Station on West Martin Street. The Charlotte Amtrak station, an old station that badly needs updating, is at 1914 North Tryon Street. The trip takes a little over three hours, with fares starting at about $30 one-way.


Long-considered train service from Asheville to Charlotte and then on to Raleigh was delayed first by the state of North Carolina’s budget woes and then by the anti-public transport bias of the Republican-dominated state legislature.


At present, the only passenger train service in Western North Carolina is on the tourist excursion train, Great Smoky Mountain Railroad (226 Everett St., Bryson City, 828-586-8811,, which offers several trips on its 54 miles of track from its main depot in Bryson City.



Greyhound/Trailways (605 Swannanoa River Rd., East Asheville, has daily service be-tween Asheville and a number of other cities in the region including Charlotte, Greens-boro, Knoxville, Tenn. and Lynchburg, Va. Tickets must be purchased online.



Due to limited public transportation, the best way to get around Asheville and Western North Carolina is by car. Or by shank’s mare or bicycle.  Call 511 or visit to get current information from the North Carolina Department of Transportation regarding highway and road travel conditions in the Asheville area.


Asheville does have a bus system, ART, that tries hard but often fails to meet the transportation needs of both locals and tourists. Visitors to Downtown Asheville also may want to use one of the hop-on, hop-off sightseeing trollies. Uber and Lyft also operate in Asheville.



Asheville Redefines Transportation or ART (Asheville Transit Center, 49 Coxe Avenue, Asheville, 828-253-5691,, operated by the City of Asheville, provides bus service to some areas in Asheville, to Asheville Regional Airport and to the town of Black Mountain. Ridership averages around 4,000 persons per day. Asheville has a fleet of neaarly two dozen buses painted dark blue and light green, with the ART logo prominently displayed; the newer buses are 30-foot, low-floor diesel-electric hybrids and electric vehicles. There are about 18 bus routes on five major corridors (Tunnel Road, Biltmore Avenue, Haywood Road, Patton Avenue and Merrimon Avenue) running from 5:30 am to 10:30 pm, Monday through Saturday (no service on Sunday.) Routes originate from the ART Station, located at 49 Coxe Avenue in Downtown Asheville (next to the U.S. Post Office). The ART Station has restrooms and indoor and outdoor seating. A staff person is on duty until 10 pm and can provide maps and schedules. Fares are $1 (50 cents for seniors 65 and over and students 6-19). Eating, drinking and smoking are prohibited on ART buses. Bicycles may be carried on buses, on front racks, at no extra charge. All ART buses have wheelchair lifts and other features to accommodate riders with disabilities.



The taxi and ride share situation in the Asheville area is hit and miss. You may get a on-time ride with a nice driver in a clean car. Or not. As in many other cities, the Covid pandemic made it more difficult for rideshares and cab companies to get and keep drivers. You’ll have to call to get a cab or use an app to book a rideshare, as taxis in Asheville usually don’t drive around looking for fares.


Taxi fares in Asheville are $2.50 when the meter drops plus $3 per mile for up to four persons, with an additional amount for each person over four.


J&J Cab Company (393 Haywood Rd., West Asheville, 828-253-3311, became what is probably Asheville’s largest cab company by purchasing New Blue Bird Taxi Company, Yellow Cab Company and others.


Lyft ( and Uber ( have service in Asheville and sur-rounding areas. Asheville Taxi ( is more like a rideshare than a cab company. Rideshare rates may be lower than cab fares, but surge pricing late at night or during rush hour can increase fares significantly. Like regular taxis, Lyft and Uber now allow tipping, and drivers usually expect it.




The Asheville Regional Airport has five car rental agencies in the airport terminal, plus one at a nearby site. Some companies also have locations in or near Downtown Asheville.


Car rental companies in Asheville typically have a decent inventory of vehicles, although there can be shortages at peak tourism times such as weekends in October or on holiday weekends in summer. To be more likely to get a vehicle, reserve ahead. Use the websites to compare rental rates and discounts, which can vary widely. Many new car dealerships also rent cars, mainly for those who are having car repairs done at the dealership.


Avis (Asheville Regional Airport, 828-684-7144 and 1 S. Tunnel Rd., Asheville, 828-299-3644,


Budget (Asheville Regional Airport, 828-684-2273,


Enterprise (Asheville Regional Airport, 828-684-3607; 579 Tunnel Rd., Asheville, 828-298-6914; 770 Patton Ave., Asheville, 828-255-0236; 168 Smoky Park Hwy, West Asheville, 828-665-2389;


Hertz (Asheville Regional Airport, 828-684-6455; 31 Woodfin St., Asheville, 828-225-1776; 891 Patton Ave., Asheville, 828-225-1776;


National/Alamo (Asheville Regional Airport, 828-684-8572, or




GPS navigation devices generally work well here, but there are some important exceptions. First, mountainous terrain, long tunnels and heavy tree canopies can at least temporarily disrupt contact with satellites. Second, because Western North Carolina is predominantly a rural area, not all destinations have a specific street address, so GPS navigation systems may tell you that you’ve arrived at a destination when it fact you could be hundreds of yards or even miles away from the true location. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, roads and trails in national and state forests, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and on the Blue Ridge Parkway may not be adequately or accurately mapped in GPS databases. Use an extra dose of common sense when interpreting GPS navigation directions in remote government lands.



For all crime, fire, health and other emergencies in Asheville and the rest of the region, dial 911. In addition, here are other direct numbers for selected first responders:


Asheville Police Department (100 Court Plaza, Asheville, 828-252-1110; has about 300 employees, including sworn officers and civilian employees. In 2022, there was a vacancy rate of about 23% for sworn officers.


Asheville Fire Department (100 Court Plaza, Asheville, 828-259-5636; has a total of 12 fire stations. Buncombe County has an additional 24 fire stations and volunteer fire departments.


Buncombe County Health Department (40 Coxe Ave., Asheville, 828-250-5000; is primarily for Buncombe County residents. In rankings of all 100 North Carolina counties, Buncombe's overall health rankings have steadily increased from #25 to #14.


Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department (202 Haywood St., Asheville, 828-255-5555; has around 370 full-time employees, with a 13% vacancy rate in 2022.  As in other North Carolina counties, the sheriff, currently Quentin Miller, is elected by county voters. Miller is the first African-American sheriff of Buncombe County.


Carolinas Poison Control Center (800-222-1222; is a 24-hour hotline that provides advice on what to do in case of a possible poisoning.


Federal Bureau of Investigation (151 Patton Avenue, Suite 211, 828-253-1643; has a small satellite office in Asheville, working out of its main regional office in Charlotte.


North Carolina State Highway Patrol (600 Tunnel Rd., 828-296-7260; has around 1,600 officers in North Carolina who patrol the state’s 80,000 miles of roads, the most roadways of any other state except Texas.


The Highway Patrol made almost 19,000 arrests in the state in 2022 for driving while impaired. The legal blood alcohol level in North Carolina is 0.08. For a 200-pound male, that’s about four to five 12-ounce beers, or the equivalent, consumed over a two-hour period; for a 140-pound female, that’s about two to three 12-ounce beers or the equivalent consumed in a two-hour period.




In the Asheville area, the major internet service providers are AT&T and Spectrum (formerly Charter). AT&T ( has regular service with downstream speeds of 75 Mbps and up to 300 Mbps on its fiber optic lines (up to 5 Gbps up and down in a few areas.)  Spectrum ( offers downstream speeds of from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps. T-Mobile and other cell companies offer cellular internet.


Most lodging places provide internet service for guests, with most providing it at no charge. Many coffee houses and bookstores and some bars and restaurants have free internet service, as do some fast food restaurants including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Bruegger’s Bagels.


The Asheville-Buncombe Library System, with 12 locations in Asheville and Buncombe County, has computers and internet service at all locations, free for local library cardholders and with a small charge ($1 per hour) for guests without local library cards.



In Asheville, whether as a resident or a visitor, you have access to excellent, nationally recognized health care. Asheville is the medical hub of WNC. The main hospital in the Asheville area is Mission Hospital (509 Biltmore Ave., Asheville, 828-213-1111, It is the tertiary referral center for the Western North Carolina region and the second busiest surgical hospital in North Carolina. Other hospitals have applied for permits to build new facilities here, but the earliest any would open likely would be 2025.


In early 2019, the non-profit Mission Hospitals was acquired for about $1.5 bil-lion by HCA Healthcare (, the largest for-profit hospital opera-tor in the country. HCA, based in Nashville, Tenn., operates some 182 hospitals and 2,300 other healthcare sites in 20 U.S. states and in the United Kingdom.


It has not been a totally smooth transition for Mission. Once one of the most respected healthcare centers in the Southeast, HCA Mission has struggled with staffing, labor relations (nurses voted to unionize, physician retention and community acceptance. While Mission continues to play a vital role in area healthcare and has been highly ranked nationally by Fortune magazine and IBM Watson Health, some of its biggest fans have become critics.


Proceeds from the sale went to Dogwood Health Trust, a non-profit foundation. It uses earnings from investing sale proceeds to fund programs to improve the health of Western North Carolina residents. The Trust is one of the largest non-profit foundations in the state.


Together with its sister Asheville campus, St. Joseph Hospital, (St. Joseph was merged into Mission in 1998) Mission’s flagship hospital is licensed for 815 hospital beds.

The hospital system, with its headquarters on a 90-acre campus on Biltmore Avenue just south of the main Asheville Downtown area has around 10,500 staff and 2,000 volunteers.

The Mission system also includes Blue Ridge Regional Hospital in Spruce Pine, Mission Hospital McDowell in Marion, Transylvania Regional Hospital in Brevard, Angel Medical Center in Franklin, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital in Highlands and Ashe-ville Specialty Hospital and Mission Children’s Hospital in Asheville. CarePartners Health Care, a company that offers rehabilitation services, is affiliated with Mission.


In addition, Mission has acquired many family medical and specialist medical practices in Western North Carolina, including Asheville Cardiology, the largest cardi-ology practice in the region.


Mission Hospital Emergency Room (509 Biltmore Ave., 828-213-1948) is busy, with some 100,000 visits a year, but generally patients are seen quickly. Drive to the main entrance off Biltmore Avenue and follow the signs.  Mission also a Pediatric ER. The hospital has a Level II trauma center. (Level I offers the highest level of surgical care whiles Levels IV and V offer the lowest.) Mission’s is the only Level II center in Western North Carolina, with three helicopters for quickly transporting trauma patients to Asheville from 17 WNC counties.


The nearest Level I trauma center is at Carolina Medical Centers ( in Charlotte.


Mission also has ERs at its hospitals in Highlands-Cashiers, Brevard, Marion, Franklin and Spruce Pine. As well, Mission has several no-appointment walk-in clinics.


Sisters of Mercy Urgent Care walk-in health care services have three locations in the greater Asheville area (1201 Patton Ave., West Asheville, 828-210-2121; 1833 Hendersonville Rd., South Asheville, 828-274-1462; 1272 Tunnel Rd., East Asheville, 828-210-8325) plus locations in Weaverville, Brevard, Burnsville, Waynesville and Columbus.


Among other doc-in-a-box clinics is FastMed Urgent Care, with locations in Asheville, Candler, Hendersonville and elsewhere,


Asheville also has a large veterans hospital, Charles George VA Medical Center (1100 Tunnel Rd., 828-298-7911; serving the approximately 100,000 military veterans living in Western North Carolina. Services at the VA hospital include hospital and home-based primary care, extended care and rehab, emergency services, pharmacy and hospice care.

The hospital was named after a Cherokee Indian U.S. Army veteran, Charles George, a Medal of Honor recipient killed in Korea. It has won recognition as one of the best-managed VA centers in the country.


The Asheville-Buncombe County area alone has more than 1,000 practicing physicians. There are large practice groups in cardiology, arthritis, oncology, orthopedics, family medicine, endocrinology, dermatology, various surgical specialties and in other areas. Buncombe County also has more than 200 dentists.


Non-HCA Hospitals near Asheville include the 222-licensed-beds Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville (800 N. Justice St., Hendersonville, 828-696-1000; with a 24-hour emergency room; AdventHealth in Hendersonville, part of Adventist Health System, a 45-unit faith-based group (100 Hospital Dr., Hendersonville, 828-684-8501;, with a 24-hour emergency service.


Also in the region are Haywood Regional Medical Center, a Duke LifePoint Hospital in Clyde (262 Leroy George Dr., 828-456-7311; with two emergency clinics in Haywood County); Harris Regional Hospital, an 86-bed Duke LifePoint Hospital in Sylva (68 Hospital Rd., Sylva, 828-586-7000;; and Swain Community Hospital, a 48-bed Duke Life-Point Hospital in Bryson City (45 Plateau St., Bryson City, 828-488-2155;


For medical and dental emergencies, your hotel should have the names of physicians and dentists on call.



You may decide to subscribe to home delivery of your new hometown newspaper, pay for online access or in a few cases get it free online or, in the case of giveaways, get a free paper copy. Here is contact information for the major newspapers in Western North Carolina. Not all weekly or monthly newspapers are listed here.


Asheville Citizen-Times (14 O. Henry Ave., Asheville, NC 28801, 800-672-2472,, owned by Gannett (“with the emphasis on the net”), is the largest daily newspaper in the region.  The on-line edition has a pay wall.  Check with the newspaper on mail subscription rates.


In 2018, Gannett sold the Citizen-Times Building that had been the home of the paper for more than 80 years. Sales price was $5.25 million. The newspaper is leasing space on the second floor of the building for its remaining editorial and advertising staff.


Mountain Xpress (2 Wall St., Asheville, NC, 28801, 828-251-1333, is a popular free alternative tabloid with extensive coverage of local politics, entertainment, restaurants, clubs and music. It is published weekly on Wednesday. Print circulation is around 29,000 with distribution at about 800 locations in Asheville and the region. The paper claims a total readership of 75,000. The on-line edition, which gets 112,000 unique visitors a month, also is free. If you want to subscribe to the print edition by mail, send a check to Subscription Department, P.O. Box 144, Asheville, NC 28802. An annual subscription is $115, and a six-month subscription is $60.


Hendersonville Times-News (106 Henderson Crossing Plaza, Hendersonville, NC 28792, 828-692-0505,, is a daily formerly owned by the New York Times Company and now a part of the GateHouse Media group. It has a circulation of around 11,000 daily and 12,000 Sunday. Subscription rate for both print home delivery and online access is about $20 a month.


Other Newspapers

Black Mountain News (14 O. Henry Ave., Asheville, 800-672-2472, is a weekly, published on Thursdays, owned by the Asheville Citizen-Times. Home delivery of the print edition plus access to the online edition is less than $2 a month.


Cherokee Scout (89 Sycamore St., Murphy, NC 28906, 828-837-5832, is a weekly published on Tuesdays with news of Murphy and Cherokee County. For Cherokee County residents, a combination print and online subscription is $30 a year. For out-of-county residents it’s $50 a year.


Graham Star (774 Tallulah Rd., Robbinsville, NC 28771, 828-479-3383, is a weekly published on Thursdays serving Robbinsville and Graham County. It has a circulation of around 3,500. In-county residents pay $26 for a combination print and on-line one-year subscription, while out-of-county residents pay $40.


High Country Press (, formerly a weekly print newspaper serving Boone and the surrounding area, is now a free web-only daily. The company also produces print and online magazines including High Country Magazine, Home Magazine and High Country Visitor Guide.


Smoky Mountain News (144 Montgomery St. Waynesville, NC 28786, 828-452-4251, is a weekly paper published on Wednesday covering news in Waynesville, Sylva and surrounding areas. It distributes about 16,000 copies a week at 600 locations in Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties and on the Cherokee reservation. If you want to receive the paper by mail, an annual subscription is $65.


Tryon Daily Bulletin (16 North Trade St., Tryon, NC 28782, 828-859-9151,, established in 1928, bills itself as the “world’s smallest daily newspaper.”  It covers the town of Tryon and Polk County and claims a readership of 4,500. The newspaper has reporters on staff, but many articles are contributed by readers. Annual subscription is $84.



From all the magazines that are published here, you wouldn’t know that people say print is dead. Here are a few of the local pubs:


The Laurel of Asheville (P.O. Box 2059, Asheville, NC 28802, 828-670-7503, bills itself as a magazine of lifestyle and the arts. It is published monthly, and an annual subscription by mail is $37; the digital edition is $13 a year.


Rapid River Magazine (85 N. Main St., Canton, NC 28716, 828-646-0071, says it is the area’s oldest arts and culture magazine. It was established in 1997. Distributed at local stores, it claims a readership of 35,000.


Sophie Magazine (, focused on local women, is distributed free at various locations around the Asheville area and also has an online edition.


WNC Magazine (33 Patton Ave., Suite 201, Asheville, NC 28801, 828-210-5030,, published every other month, covers local people, history, travel, dining, the arts and other subjects.  Six issues by mail are $20.


WNC Woman (P.O. Box 951, Marshall, NC 28753, 828-649-9555, is a monthly magazine about local women. It is distributed free at locations throughout the region and available by mail for $20 a year.



Within the city of Asheville, the political scene is progressive. The city voted heavily for Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012. It voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Despite blacks making up only about 13% of the city’s population, Asheville elected its first African-American major, Terry Bellamy, in 2005, and she overwhelmingly won re-election in 2009. All of the current city council members are registered Democrats, although Republicans have had seats on the council in the past.


Buncombe County is somewhat more conservative, although the county voted for Obama in the in 2008 and 2012 and for Hillary Clinton in 2016, albeit by smaller margins than the city. The county was one of only eight of 100 counties in the state to vote against Proposition One, an amendment to the state constitution in May 2012 defining marriage between a man and a woman as the only legally recognized domestic union. Statewide, the amendment, seen by many as anti-gay, passed with a vote of around 60%. The ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) did away with the state's Prop One law.


Where Can I Find a Loo in Asheville?

Many shops and restaurants have notices posted “Restrooms for Patrons Only.” So where to find a loo Downtown? The Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau satellite office Downtown on the north side of Pack Square Park Pavilion, open April-November, has six nice either-gender restrooms. The main Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau location (36 Montford Ave.) in the Montford area just north of Downtown has well-maintained restrooms. The Grove Arcade has public restrooms. ART Station, the bus station for Asheville’s public transit system (49 Coxe Ave.) next to the U.S. Post Office provides restrooms. Most Asheville City Parks, including Aston Park (336 Hilliard Ave.) Downtown and Carrier Park (220 Amboy Rd.) in West Asheville, have restrooms. Downtown hotels such as the Aloft, Indigo, Haywood Park and Radisson have restrooms in their lobbies or other public spaces. Government buildings, such as the Asheville City Building, Buncombe County Courthouse and the Federal Building, have restrooms, but you may have to go through a metal detector and other screening to gain admission. Of course, you can always pop into a store, bar or quick-service restaurant, act like a patron, and use the restrooms, despite what the signs say.


The Buncombe County board of commissioners currently is made up of four Democratic and three Republican members. The now Republican-controlled state legislature changed the way in which Buncombe commissioners are elected. The changed allowed Republicans to make gains in the commissioner race in the 2012 election, but the GOP made no further gains in 2016.


Outside Asheville and Buncombe County, voters in Western North Carolina tend to be more conservative. Due in part to Republican-led redistricting, both U.S. representatives for the western part of the state are Republican.


The state has swung to the right in recent elections and as of 2012 Republicans control the state house and senate. The legislature passed the highly controversial HB2 in 2016. The so-called "bathroom" bill actually was an attempt by the GOP to limit LGBTQ rights and to undermine local control. The bill cost the state billions of dollars in new business development and tourism, but it cost the GOP the governorship in 2016. The bill now has been repealed.


Obama took the state in 2008 but lost narrowly in 2012. Trump won NC in 2016. However, Democrats won the governorship in 2016, with former Attorney General Roy Cooper beating the sitting Republican Pat McCrory by 10,000 votes. Dems also won  the office of the Attorney General and Secretary of State. The state Supreme Court was flipped to progressives in 2016. Ten of 13 North Carolina representatives in the U.S. congress are Republican, and  the state has two Republican U.S. senators. How long conservatives will rule state politics is a matter of debate, as social trends and demographics – increasing influx of well-educated voters from more liberal areas and the growth of the Hispanic and African-American population, for example – appear to favor progressives.


Politically, Western North Carolina is a big tent, and under it are everyone from gun-toting survivalists to Libertarians to moderate Republicans and Democrats to Tea Party members to old lefties and never-give-up progressives.



Here are some of the radio stations you may want to listen to when drive to or around Asheville.

Note that Sirius/XM satellite radio ( may drop out in heavy tree canopies along roadways and in the steep mountain terrain.


Blue Ridge Public Radio, which consists of WCQS Asheville, 88.1 FM, National Public Radio programming mostly classical music and NPR news, and a sister station, BPR News at 107.9 FM, broadcast NPR news and talk programs, along with BBC News.  WCQS also broadcasts on the following frequencies, among others, in towns around Asheville:

88.5        WMQS, Murphy

91.3        WFQS, Franklin and North Georgia

91.5        Dillsboro, Sylva

94.7        Bryson City

95.3        Cherokee, Waynesville

101.5      Tryon

102.9      Cullowhee, Waynesville, Clyde, Webster

103.3      Highlands

105.1      Brevard/Hendersonville

107.5      Black Mountain/Montreat


WFLA Asheville-Greenville, S.C. 91.3 FM, Christian contemporary


WHKP Hendersonville, 1450 AM, local news, talk, sports and country music


WISE Asheville, 1310 AM, sports


WKSF Asheville, 99.9 FM, owned by Clear Channel, programs country music


MAIN Asheville, 103.7 FM, [AMAZING] community radio


WMIT Black Mountain, 106.9 FM, religious station affiliated with Billy Graham organization


WNCW Spindale, 88.7 FM, a Public Radio community station licensed to Isothermal Community College, programming an eclectic “crossroads” mix of independent, alternative and other music


WOXL Asheville/Biltmore Forest, 96.5 FM, adult contemporary


WPVN Asheville, 103.5 FM, progressive talk radio


WWNC Asheville, 570 AM, owned by Clear Channel, is a talk/news radio affiliated with Fox News, has a right-wing slant with Limbaugh and Hannity.


Television stations in Asheville:

WLOS-TV (Channel 13), owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, is the dominant Western North Carolina TV station. It is an ABC-TV affiliate. WLOS-TV also operates WMYY-TV through a local marketing agreement.


WHNS-TV (Channel 22) is a Fox affiliate.


WUNF-TV (Channel 33) is the Public Television station, a part of the University of North Carolina system.


Asheville is part of the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson (S.C.)-Asheville television market, the 36th largest television market in the country. WYFF-TV (Channel 4, NBC, Greenville), WSPA-TV (Channel 7, CBS, Spartanburg) and six other South Carolina stations have service in the Asheville area. Charter Communications (Sprectrum) is the major cable company in the Asheville area.



North Carolina’s statewide sales tax is 4.75%, and in addition local counties and municipalities charge local sales taxes. In Asheville and Buncombe County, which levy a 2.25% local tax, the total state and local sales tax is 7%. It is slightly lower in neighboring Henderson and Madison counties, at 6.75%. Most grocery food items are subject only to a 2% sales tax, and prescription drugs are exempt from sales taxes.


Hotel or room taxes in Asheville and Buncombe County are the 7% sales tax plus 4% local room occupancy tax, for a total of 11% tax on the hotel room rate. The 4% local occupancy tax mostly goes to fund tourism promotion.


The state gasoline tax is 37.5 cents per gallon, not including federal gas taxes, currently 18.4 cents per gallon.


The state income tax rate for individuals is now a flat 5.4999% regardless of income, but the state's large standard deduction means that lower income residents pay little or no state income tax. The state corporate tax rate is a flat 3%.




American Automobile Association (local AAA offices at 1000 Merrimon Ave., Suite B, Asheville, 828-253-5376 and 1550 Hendersonville Rd., Asheville, 828-274-2555; offers free travel maps, trip planning and guidebooks for members.


Amazing Asheville ( has comprehensive information for prospective visitors, retirees and relocatees.


Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau (36 Montford Ave., 828-258-6129;; open Mon.-Fri. 8:30-5:30, Sat.-Sun. 9-5, a satellite visitor pavilion is in Pack Square Park, open 9-5 daily) is a terrific source of information on Asheville and the mountains. Visit online or in-person at the modern visitor center near Downtown on Montford Avenue near Downtown.  A Downtown satellite visitor pavilion is now open in Pack Square Park. A free travel guide to Asheville is available in both digital and paper versions. The main visitor center offers a souvenir shop, The Asheville Store, and a concierge to help you find accommodations. Both the main and satellite visitor centers have clean public bathrooms.


Blue Ridge Parkway (Parkway headquarter is 199 Hemphill Knob Rd., Asheville off Milepost 384, 828-271-4779 or 828-298-0398 for recorded information;; open daily 9-5) has helpful staff, informative literature and a 3-D map of the parkway.


Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Park headquarters: 107 Park Headquarters Rd., Gatlinburg, TN 37738, visitor information line 865-436-1200) has a complete visitor information center on the North Carolina side of the park at Oconaluftee on U.S. Highway 441 near Cherokee (open daily, hours vary seasonally).


Hendersonville Tourist Information Center (201 S. Main St., Hendersonville, 828-693-9708 or 800-828-4244;; open weekdays 9-5, weekends 10-5) offers a free travel planner brochure both online and in a paper version. A relocation package is available for $25.


High Country Host ( is a non-official online guide to Boone, Blowing Rock and other areas of the North Carolina High Country.


Romantic Asheville ( is a non-official online travel guide to Asheville with more than 600 pages of information and 2,500 photographs. Besides covering Asheville, it has information on the area within about 85 miles of Asheville.




Finding parking in Downtown Asheville can sometimes take a bit time, but you can always find a space somewhere. Parking is at a premium during weekday business hours when the population of downtown swells, as about 40,000 people commute to downtown for work. It’s also often the case in the evenings when Asheville’s restaurants and nightlife attract crowds. Friday and Saturday nights in summer and fall are particularly sticky times for finding a convenient space on the street, notably on Lexington Avenue, Broadway, Biltmore Avenue, Haywood Street, Wall Street, Battery Park Avenue and around the Grove Arcade, Pack Square and U.S. Cellular Center (set to be re-named after Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in 2020). Still, with many public and private parking garages and lots, you can always find a spot if you look hard enough.



The City of Asheville has about 700 metered on-street parking spaces downtown. All spaces are for short-term parking, for two hours or less. Cost is $1.50 per hour, for up to 2 hours. Some meters accept coins (no pennies) only, while others accept credit or debit cards. Others meters will let you pay with your smart phone, using the Passport Park app, although you have to set an account in advance. Meters are monitored from 8 am to 6 pm Monday-Saturday, and street parking is free on Sundays, holidays and be-tween 6 pm and 8 am.


The fine for overtime parking is $20, and $40 for a subsequent violation within 24 hours (additional charges apply for parking in a fire lane or beside a fire hydrant, and and for parking illegally in a handicap zone.) You have 15 days to pay the fine, or appeal, or otherwise a late penalty is assessed. Parking fines can be paid, using Visa or MasterCard only, online through


You can also pay through the mail (see ticket) or at Parking Service (45 Wall St., Downtown Asheville). For more information on public parking in Asheville, go online or call the city’s Parking Services division at 828-259-5792.



The City of Asheville has four public parking garages, with a maximum total of around 1,450 spaces. City parking garages are usually attended Monday-Friday, 10 am to 7 pm (may be later during special events). During other hours, payment is made when exiting from the garages using the exit pay-in-lane stations. Both the attendants and stations accept coins, cash, validation tickets (from some restaurants and merchants) and MasterCard or Visa credit or debit cards. Some of the garage parking spaces are taken by those with monthly parking permits, which cost $100 to $130 a month.


Buncombe County operates two large public parking garage downtown with 1,314 parking spaces.


City of Asheville Garages

Biltmore Avenue Garage (under Aloft Hotel at 51 Biltmore Ave. at Alston St.) With 450 spaces (the number may be reduced to as few as 289 depending on usage by the hotel) this is the newest of the city’s four public garages and is convenient to shopping, dining and other activities on the north end of Biltmore Avenue, on the south end of Broadway and around Pack Square and the Market Street area. Rates:  First hour free, second hour or any portion thereof $2.50, after that $1.25 hour up to maximum of $12.  Special events $9.


Civic Center Garage (68 Rankin Ave. and off Haywood St., behind the Pack Memo-rial Public Library near the U.S. Cellular Center/Civic Center, which is set to be renamed after Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in 2020.) This is the largest of the public garages, with 550 spaces. It is convenient to events in the Civic Center and for shopping, dining and other activities on Haywood Street, at the Grove Arcade and nearby. Note that there are two entrances, one on Rankin Avenue and the other, more commonly used, is between the Vanderbilt Apartments and the main Pack Library. Rates: First hour is free, second hour is $2.50. After that, $1.25 an hour up to daily maximum of $12. Special events, $7-$9.


Rankin Avenue Garage (68 Rankin Ave./84. W. Walnut St.) With 262 spaces, this garage is between Haywood Street and Rankin Avenue just north of College Street. This garage can handle overflow from U.S. Cellular Center events and is handy for shopping, dining and other activities on Haywood Street and Lexington Avenue. Rates: First hour is free, second hour is $2.50. After that, $1.25 an hour up to daily maximum of $12. Special events, $9.


Wall Street Garage (45 Wall St., off Otis Street between Wall Street and Battery Park Avenue, directly across the street from the Grove Arcade.) The main entrance to this 232-space garage is on Otis Street. It is convenient for shopping, dining and other activities at the Grove Arcade and on Wall Street and Battery Park Avenue. However, it often fills up. Rates: First hour is free, second hour is $2.50. After that, $1.25 an hour up to daily maximum of $12. Special events, $9.


Buncombe County Garages

College Street Parking Deck (164 College St. across from Asheville City Hall and Buncombe County Courthouse.)  This 650-space, seven-story parking garage is handy to Asheville City Building, Buncombe County Courthouse and nearby government facilities. You can also easily get to Pack Square from here. Rates: $1 for first half-hour, $1 for second half-hour ($2 total for first hour). $1 an hour after that. Daily maximum: $12.


Coxe Avenue Garage (11 Sears Alley, near Buncombe County Health and Human Services) has 664 spaces. It is also handy for shopping along Wall Street and Patton Avenue. Rates: $1 for first half-hour, $1 for second half-hour ($2 total for first hour). $1 an hour after that. Daily maximum: $12.


24/7 Public Parking Lots

46 Aston St. 45 spaces. Rates: $3.35 for up to 12 hours. Pay at station or through ParkMobile app. Good for checking out South Slope breweries.

52 Coxe Ave. 87 spaces. Rates: $3.35 for up to 12 hours. Pay at station or through ParkMobile app. Good for checking out South Slope breweries.

2 Sawyer St. 25 spaces. Rates: $3.35 for up to 12 hours. Pay at station or through ParkMobile app. Good for checking out South Slope breweries.



Asheville has many small private surface parking lots and a few private garages. Rates and parking rules vary. Note that some of the lots are for tenants of specific office buildings or for certain stores or restaurants only. Violators may be towed.


Among the larger private garages is Pack Square Parking Deck, on Biltmore Avenue, next to the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts. This private garage is called the Pack Square Garage (even though it is quite a way from Pack Square) with the main entrance and exit at 4 Biltmore Avenue between the Wortham Center and Eagle Street and with another entrance and exit on Market Street. Its official address listed on the parking ticket is 12 Eagle Street.

Now managed by a Charlotte-based firm, Preferred Parking, the Pack Square Gar-age has raised its prices (maximum daily rate is $18 and it kicks in after not a very long stay). This rate is one of the highest in Asheville. It also has a confusing exit system. Many times lines are backed up due to customers being unable to figure out the exit machines. The Market Street entrance/exit usually is not staffed. This is currently also the parking lot for the Jackson Building complex.


Parking in Biltmore Village

Park in unmetered street parking spaces in Biltmore Village, and in strip center lots near the edge of the Village.


Parking in West Asheville

Park in unmetered street parking spaces along Haywood Road and on side streets. Some private business lots are available for public parking after 6 pm, but watch for tow-away signs.


Other Towns

Free street parking is available in downtown Hendersonville, Black Mountain, Bre-vard, Bryson City, Highlands, Waynesville and most other small towns and villages in Western North Carolina. As in Asheville, during peak visiting times from late spring to late fall you may have to drive around a while to find a park spot near your destination.




All content copyright © Lan Sluder except selected photographs used by permission and brief quotations or other fair use text, which are owned by the copyright holder.

We have made every effort to confirm the accuracy of information on this website, and in the Amazing Asheville book and ebooks, but travel information is subject to frequent change, and no warranty is made, express or implied. Please notify us of any errors or omissions, and we will attempt to correct them as soon as possible. All opinions expressed are those of the author, Lan Sluder, unless otherwise noted.