See the Lights


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..

Wisemans 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'


Highway 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'




The Blue Ridge Parkway has a marked viewing site at the Lost Cove overlook, located at the 310 mileage marker. The view is of Brown Mountain itself, but vegetation has encroached upon the view.


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.

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