Scott Carpenter has a vision that may seem myopic at first. Hear him out, though, and your adventurous self can easily see what he’s talking about.
Carpenter’s vision is this: Lake James, the 6,800-acre lake currently best known as the gateway to other adventurous places (Linville Gorge, Wilson Creek, the Pisgah National Forest) is the next Nantahala Outdoor Center, an all-encompassing outdoor playground that’s day-tripable from North Carolina’s major population centers: Charlotte, the Triad, the Triangle.
Carpenter is Deputy County Manager and Planning Director for Burke County, in which Lake James and its associated state park reside. Burke County, like many mountain counties, is dealing with a changing economy that must figure out how to rely less on manufacturing and more on … .
“Tourism,” answers Carpenter.
The ultimate goal, says Carpenter, is to lure an NOC-type outfitter to the region to help exploit the local recreational resources. Chances are, if you see the Lake James exit on I-40 as little more than a sign that you’re almost to where the fun starts, you’re scratching your head: What can I do at Lake James that doesn’t