Draft and in Review

Elk Knob State Park Geology - An Interactive Guide

Make a selection on the above menu to learn about the geology of Elk Knob State Park.


Elk Knob State Park is located in Watauga County, approximately 8 miles north of Boone, NC.  Peaking at 5,520 feet, the Knob ranks as one of the county’s highest mountain tops, second only to Grandfather Mountain's Calloway Peak at 5,946 feet.  Elk Knob is part of the “Amphibolite Range” in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northwestern North Carolina.  These mountains are called such because a type of metamorphic rock called amphibolite dominantly underlies them.

The geology of Elk Knob is not only an important part of the natural history, but it has also influenced the biology and cultural history of the area.  In fact, one reason Elk Knob is so revered by naturalist is that it is host to diverse and unique flora and fauna that, in part, owes it existence to nutrient-rich soils derived from the underlying amphibolite bedrock. 

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East-looking view of Elk Knob from Sunalei Drive. Photo by Elk Knob Ranger, Kelly Safely.

Thanks to the efforts of the Nature Conservancy and the Goodnight Family Sustainable Development Program at Appalachian State University, 1800 acres of Elk Knob and the surrounding area will remain in its natural state, as it was deeded to the State as a Nature Preserve, and later a State Park in 2003.


About this website:

This website was created by Crystal Wilson, who instructs Introductory Geology at Appalchian State University. There are three general sources of data used to construct this site; the data is compiled from (1) student-assisted, detailed geologic mapping by Ms. Wilson, (2) interpretation of map data and rock units by Ms. Wilson and ASU Emeritus Professor, Dr. Loren A. Raymond, and(3) the work of many other scientists (see references for a complete listing). Comments about the Elk Knob State Park Geology website can be directed to Crystal Wilson: wilsoncg@appstate.edu

The Geology of NC State Parks website is maintained by Phil Bradley in an effort to help facilitate earth science education throughout the State of North Carolina. Comments about the Geology of NC State Parks overall website can be directed to Phil Bradley: pbradley1968@gmail.com