Winter driving can be hazardous in the High Country. To keep yourself and your family safe while traveling around the Town of Beech Mountain, be prepared with the best equipment possible. On snow-covered roads, a 4WD vehicle with chains provides the ultimate grip and traction. In all but the most severe conditions, an AWD vehicle, outfitted with snow tires, handles our roads admirably. At a minimum, tire chains on a 2WD vehicle will provide the driver with some traction. If the yellow Department of Transportation sign at the bottom of the mountain is flashing, 4WD or chains are required. Please don’t ignore the warning. Chains are easily obtained at the Banner Elk Exxon or High South Wrecker Service, among other outlets.
Drivers should stock their vehicle with a shovel, blanket, warm clothing, and sturdy boots. If your vehicle is unable to gain traction, non-clumping kitty litter or sand in front of the tires is always helpful. NEVER USE SALT on a gravel road. The salt eats away at the surface of the road and within a day or two, a mudhole will form. Depending on the amount of salt that has been deposited on the road, the underlayment may also soften up and render the entire area an impassable mud pit. A salted gravel road will remain mud for weeks to months, while the salt dissipates into the environment. The worst cases will require expensive repairs.
The Beech Mountain Public Works Department plows all roads and uses a diluted salt mix only on paved roads, where it is not harmful to the road surface. On gravel roads, the plows are careful not to scrape the gravel off the road, and they add a coating of grit or chat, which is finely ground gravel. This gives the surface the traction that is needed for careful winter driving.
The most difficult time to drive in the mountains is during an active snow, sleet, or ice event. If you must travel, go slowly, and avoid sudden braking or acceleration. Locals often wait for the snowplow to pass before traveling up or down the Beech Mountain Parkway. You are always safer behind the plow than in front of it.