North Carolina Highway 194

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NC Highway 194 marker

NC Highway 194
Route information
Maintained by NCDOT
Length: 85.5 mi[1] (137.6 km)
Existed: 1921 – present
Major junctions
South end: US 19E in Ingalls
North end: Rugby Road at the VA state line
Counties: Avery, Watauga, Ashe
Highway system
NC 191 NC 197

North Carolina Highway 194 (NC 194) is a primary state highway in the state of North Carolina. Primarily in the High Country, it runs from US 19E, in Ingalls, to the Virginia state line, near Helton.

Route description[edit]

NC 194 begins in the community of Ingalls going east, on a somewhat curvy stretch of road known as Three Mile Highway, to US 221 (locals going to or from Spruce Pine take a shortcut on Mullin Hill Road). Being the first of three concurrences with US 221, the routes go through the town of Crossnore then separates. NC 194, from Crossnore to Elk Park is relatively calm road (even a passing lane is available for southbound travelers between Newland and Elk Park.

Between Elk Park and Vilas, the route becomes aggressively curvy, as it hugs the banks of the Elk River (between Elk Park and Banner Elk), the Craborchard Creek (from Watauga county line to Valle Crucis), and the Watauga River (in Valle Crucis). While in Banner Elk, the road will pass by the Elk River Airport, Lees–McRae College, and the ski resorts on Beech and Sugar.

From Vilas through Boone, it is overlapped with US 421; passing through the downtown area Boone and ASU. It separates onto Jefferson Road, next to the New Market Shopping Center, and goes through another curvy drive through the community of Todd.

Reconnecting with US 221 in Baldwin, the road is very open and uneventful till they split for the final time in West Jefferson. NC 194 goes through the city of West Jefferson, passing by the only cheese factory in North Carolina. Connecting with NC 88 for a few miles till Warrensville, NC 194 is solo for the last 13.4 miles (21.6 km) to the Virginia state line. In Virginia, it becomes a smaller (no lines) secondary road called Rugby Road, which eventually connects to US 58.

The highway is the northern most primary route in the state.

Scenic byways[edit]

NC 194 is part of two scenic byway in the state (indicated by a Scenic Byways sign). Both routes are not recommended for recreational vehicles or buses.[2]

Mission Crossing Byway is an 18 miles (29 km) byway from Elk Park to Vilas, passing through the town of Banner Elk and the communities of Heaton, Balm, and Valle Crucis. The route gets its name from the 1895 mission built in Valle Crucis by the Episcopal Church, today it is used as a camp and conference center. The route is also noted for its back-road feel, a farm built in 1812, and the Mast General Store.[2]

New River Valley Byway is an 32 miles (51 km) byway, split in two sections. The first section (18 miles (29 km)) is traversed by NC 194 from Boone to Baldwin, passing through the community of Todd. The section is noted for its Christmas tree farms, the North Fork New River, a site of an Revolutionary War engagement, and the Todd General Store. The second section is on NC 88, between Jefferson and Laurel Springs.[2]


Boone's King Street (US 321/US 421/NC 194)

NC 194 is an original state highway that traveled between NC 19, in Woodlawn, and NC 69, in Minneapolis; connecting Altamont and Newland along its routing.[3] In 1923, NC 194 was rerouted north from Newland to NC 69, in Cranberry; its old alignment, which paralleled the ETWN "Tweetsie" Railroad, became Old Toe River Road (SR 1157). In 1924, NC 194 was extended to the Tennessee state line, replacing NC 694. In 1930, NC 194 replaced NC 69 north of Elk Park to US 321/NC 60, in Vilas; its former routing to Tennessee became part of NC 69.[4][5]

In 1932, NC 194 was replaced by US 221/NC 28, between Woodlawn and Crossnore. The following year, NC 194 was re-extended south along US 221/NC 28, through Crossnore and Altamont, then replaced NC 691 to its current southern terminus in Ingalls.[6]

Around 1953, NC 194 was extended from Vilas, along US 421 through Boone, then north replacing an old alignment of US 221 through Todd to Baldwin. Overlapping with US 221 to West Jefferson, it then replaces NC 162 through Warrensville to its current northern terminus at the Virginia state line.[7]

Between 1963-1968, NC 194 was realigned onto new road between Newland and Elk Park, leaving behind Blevins Creek Road (SR 1361).[8] In 1981, US 221/NC 194 was placed on road between Baldwin and West Jefferson, leaving behind Beaver Creek School Road (SR 1248).[9]

Junction list[edit]

US 19E/NC 194 in Cranberry
County Location mi[1] km Destinations Notes
Avery Ingalls 0.0 0.0 US 19E – Spruce Pine, Cranberry Southern terminus
  4.2 6.8 US 221 south (Linville Falls Highway) – Marion South end of US 221 overlap
Crossnore 9.1 14.6 US 221 north (Linville Falls Highway) – Linville, Morganton North end of US 221 overlap
Newland 13.0 20.9 NC 181 south (Linville Avenue) – Linville
Cranberry 18.6 29.9 US 19E south – Spruce Pine South end of US 19E overlap
Elk Park 18.9 30.4 US 19E north – Roan Mountain North end of US 19E overlap
Banner Elk 25.5 41.0 NC 184 north (Beech Mountain Parkway) – Beech Mountain North end of NC 184 overlap; to Ski Beech
25.8 41.5 NC 184 south (Shawneehaw Avenue) – Linville, Boone South end of NC 184 overlap; to Ski Sugar
Watauga Valle Crucis 33.3 53.6 To NC 105 / Broadstone Road
Vilas 37.0 59.5 US 321 / US 421 north – Mountain City North end of US 321/US 421 overlap
Boone 42.7 68.7 US 321 south (Hardin Street) – Blowing Rock South end of US 321 overlap
43.0 69.2 US 221 / NC 105 south (Highway 105 Extension) – Linville, Banner Elk South end of US 221 overlap
43.6 70.2 US 221 north / US 421 south – Wilkesboro, Winston-Salem North end of US 221 and south end of US 421 overlap
Ashe Baldwin 61.7 99.3 US 221 south South end of US 221 overlap
West Jefferson 65.3 105.1 US 221 north / NC 163 – Jefferson North end of US 221 and south end of US 221 Bus. overlap
67.0 107.8
US 221 Bus. north – Jefferson
North end of US 221 Bus. overlap
Smethport 68.5 110.2 NC 88 east – Jefferson East end of NC 88 overlap
Warrensville 72.3 116.4 NC 88 west – Trade West end of NC 88 overlap
VA state line 85.5 137.6 Rugby Road Northern terminus
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Bannered routes[edit]

One of several warning signs for truckers along this stretch of NC 194


NC Highway 194 Truck
Location: Banner Elk-Valle Crucis, NC
Length: 15.2 mi[10] (24.5 km)

North Carolina Highway 194 Truck (NC 194 Truck) redirects truckers traveling through either Banner Elk or Valle Crucis to not use the mainline highway between the two locations, with explicate flashing warning signs. This 15.2-mile (24.5 km) detour takes truckers, from Banner Elk, south along NC 184 to Tynecastle (a.k.a. Invershield or Linville Gap), then north along NC 105 to Broadstone Road (SR-1112); hugging the Watauga River, it eventually reconnects with mainline NC 194 in Valle Crucis.


  1. ^ a b Google (May 16, 2015). "North Carolina Highway 194" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "North Carolina Scenic Byways" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  3. ^ State Highway System of North Carolina (PDF) (Map). Cartography by NCSHC. North Carolina State Highway Commission. 1922. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  4. ^ State Highway System of North Carolina (PDF) (Map). Cartography by NCSHC. North Carolina State Highway Commission. 1930. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  5. ^ North Carolina County Road Survey 1930 (PDF) (Map). Cartography by NCSHC / NCSTC / U.S. Bureau of Public Roads. North Carolina State Tax Commission. 1930. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  6. ^ North Carolina County Road Survey 1936 (PDF) (Map). Cartography by NCSHC / NCSTC / U.S. Bureau of Public Roads. North Carolina State Tax Commission. 1936. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  7. ^ North Carolina County Road Survey 1953 (PDF) (Map). Cartography by NCHPWC / USPRA. North Carolina State Highway and Public Works Commission. 1953. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  8. ^ North Carolina County Road Survey 1968 (PDF) (Map). Cartography by NCSHC / USDOT / FHWA. North Carolina State Highway Commission – Planning and Research Department. 1968. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Route Change (1981-09-01)" (PDF). North Carolina Department of Transportation. September 1, 1981. p. 4. Retrieved May 16, 2015. 
  10. ^ Google (December 4, 2013). "NC 194 Truck - Banner Elk–Valle Crucis, North Carolina" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved December 4, 2013. 

External links[edit]