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Land Cover

Western North Carolina Land Cover, 2006

Land Cover refers to the vegetation, structures, or other features that cover the land, as opposed to Land Use, which refers to how land is used by humans. Land Cover, for example, describes land covered by grass, trees, water, or large buildings surrounded by lawn.

Western North Carolina contains few major urban centers, and its landscape is covered predominantly by forest. Largely a rural area, the region is connected by two major interstate highways, state highways, and secondary roads, with large areas of open space and low intensity development, pasture, and grassland. Most development tends to be concentrated around major transportation corridors.

The region includes the North Carolina section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, also named “America’s Favorite Drive”; the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which spans from Western North Carolina into Tennessee and is America’s most visited national park; and the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests, two of the most visited national forests in the U.S. The Parkway winds through popular destination points such as Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain east of the Mississippi River, and Mount Pisgah, known for its breathtaking panoramic mountain views.


Map data from the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium (MRLC). 2011. Accessed from: For more information on the definition of the terms used in the Map Legend, please visit