Valle Crucis is a unincorporated community located in Watauga County, North Carolina. The name of the town is Latin for "Vale of the Cross," a reference to a valley in the area where three streams converge to form a shape similar to an archbishop's cross.
There was scattered settlement in the region in the 1840s when an Episcopal missionary, William West Skiles, came to the area. He founded the first Episcopal church in the region, "Easter Chapel", and lived in the area for the remainder of his life. While there, he founded the Valle Crucis Mission School, which has had several purposes throughout its history and currently serves as a conference and retreat center. Skiles also founded the first monastic order within the Episcopal Church in the United States. Holy Cross Episcopal Church, located in Valle Crucis, is a direct successor to Easter Chapel. The church building, c. 1926, is modeled on a now-defunct medieval monastery in Wales and is noteworthy for its architecture. Regular services are still held at the church. The region was a significant missionary area for the Episcopal Church in the nineteenth century. This brought some degree of outside influence and progress to an area that was otherwise isolated from the rest of the state and world.
During the past 25 years, Valle Crucis has transformed from a little-known rural community in western Watauga County to a popular destination for vacationers and new residents. The valley's scenic beauty and situation in the Blue Ridge Mountains have been major factors in the recent growth of Valle Crucis. Where crumbling buildings or open pastureland were once located in the 1970s, one can now find new and revitalized businesses catering to visitors, including beds and breakfasts and restaurants. The Mast Store, located in the heart of the Valle Crucis community, is now a major stop for visitors to the area.
Transportation to Valle Crucis is via State Road 194 and by county roads. There is no airport in the community, and no nearby passenger railroad depots. Valle Crucis is located at latitude 36º12'33" N and longitude 81º46'43" W. The community is located 227 air miles northeast of Atlanta and 532 air miles southwest of New York City. The land in the area is hilly to mountainous. Valle Crucis is approximately 2680 feet above sea level. At summer solstice, the length of day is 14 hours and 38 minutes.
Weather ranges from warm summer days and cool summer evenings to cold or even bitterly cold winter nights. Rainfall is moderate, averaging 43" per year. Severe storms are rare. Snowfall occurs in the winter with some accumulation to be expected several times between December and April. Snowpack is inconsistent.
Recreation in the area includes winter snow skiing, hiking, canoeing, and shopping.