The New I-26 Virtual Tour
Tennessee and North Carolina

The Welcome Center

The new I-26 includes a Welcome Center, located between Buckner Gap and Exit 9. The facility includes tourism information, restrooms, vending machines, a picnic area and a scenic overlook.

A view of the welcome center, with the scenic overlook visible in the background.

These photos show the wildflowers planted adjacent to the parking lot. In the background is the highway cut through Buckner Gap.

A view of the front of the welcome center from the parking lot.

Looking up the hill at the scenic overlook with the picnic area in the foreground.

The front entrance of the welcome center.

Plaques along the front walkway at the entrance to the welcome center honor a couple of local politicians and community leaders who were instrumental in the construction of the new highway. Sections of the four-lane route in North Carolina between the Tennessee line and Asheville are named after each of them.

The topmost of these three photos shows the view of the mountains to the south from the scenic overlook. The other two photos show a sign at the spot, identifying some of the mountain peaks that can be viewed on a clear day. One of the is Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi River. However, the haze of a midsummer day obscured Mount Mitchell from view on the day I visited.

This is looking down at the welcome center from the scenic overlook.

Finally, this view is of the highway, with Buckner Gap in the background looking to the north. 

Page 4 (Old US 23 in North Carolina and Tennessee)