The lights have
been mainly reported seen from three viewing locations, all around
the Linville Gorge area of western North Carolina, although we have had reports from Blowing Rock as well..
View is a viewing location in the Pisgah National Forest.
The Forest Service access (gravel) road is marked where it connects
to Highway 183, which is off of Highway 221 near Linville. After
parking in the parking lot you hike a couple of hundred yards down
an asphalt-paved walkway (the walkway has a handicapped access route,
too). This ends in a viewing ledge overlooking the gorge and provided
with a couple of 'pulpits' for safe viewing. The view is to the
east, looking over Table Rock and Hawk's Bill. Brown Mountain itself
is beyond that ridge, a low peak in the distance (see History
section for discussion of the relative unimportance of Brown Mountain
itself). The lights have been seen along the ridge as well as below
the ridge down in the Gorge. The sound of the Linville River is
audible from below.
GPS coordinates: N 35° 54.232' W 81° 54.286'
181has an overlook that has been recently upgraded by the Burke County Tourisim department.
It is about a mile south of the Barkhouse Picnic area. The paved
pull-off has a steel road barrier type low fence and information signs about the view in both the direction toward Brown Mountain itself, an obscure, low ridge in the distance, as well as toward Jonas Ridge in the opposite direction (from where our Camera 1 looks).
GPS coordinates: N 35° 56.525' W 81° 50.513'
Blue Ridge Parkway has a marked viewing site at the Lost
Cove overlook, located at the 310 mileage marker. Our research team has determined that in spite of the sign, you cannot actually see Brown Mountain from this overlook.
GPS coordinates: N 36° 01.744' W 81° 52.305'
Time and Date
We wish that
there were sufficient data to advise you when it is best to try.
But, all of the info is anecdotal and includes reports of seeing
them all times of the year and all times of the night. However,
it is our feeling that most reports are actually "sightings"
of natural and manmade lights, so any evidence of high-probability
seeing times are lost in the noise of bogus reports. Of course,
you only "see them when you look" so many reports of early
evening sightings are biased by the observers only looking at those
times. Our advice: look when you want or when it is convenient.
In our research team's experience, the vast majority of the reported sightings are misidentified natural or manmade lights, so if you are going to go look for the lights you should first familiarize yourself with the nightscape in similar settings other than these locations, as a control for your judgement. Become familiar with distant city lights, flashing tower lights, campfires, airplanes taking off and landing, and other natural and manmade ligts like those. Otherwise you risk becoming like the majority who claim they have seen them: they come expecting to see the lights, they see some kind of lights, and leave thinking they have seen the lights. the presence of this "noise" in the data (the reports), means that we can't really learn much about the phenomenon like any favored season, weather, etc. Only when we can get good reports from reliable witnesses will we be able to use such information.