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Snowbird Mountain Lodge: a haven for inspiration for art and culture from nature

Flowers and bird feeders
Flowers and bird feeders
Leon Bates

No matter what time of day or night, sitting on the porch of the Snowbird Mountain Lodge that overlooks the pristine waters of Lake Santeetlah and far-reaching vistas of the Cherohala Skyway is bound to inspire with the verdant colors and vibrant sounds of nature. Since 1941, this historic retreat, located in the sleepy mountain town of Robbinsville in western North Carolina, has been a haven for birders, hikers, paddlers, and wildflower enthusiasts and well as artists, poets, and musicians.

In addition to a dulcimer workshop
 with Paul & Dee Andry lessons for first-timers and past participants who are invited to participate in evening jam sessions, the lodge offers Music Evenings at Snowbird Mountain Lodge with traditional music groups such as Four Leaf Peat, Lynn & Lou Wamp, Louise Mosrie, Lynn & Lou Wamp, and Louise Mosrie.
Some of the opportunities for artists of any level to immerse themselves in the natural surroundings and indulge in their creativity this summer are workshop in:

• Painting with Nan Cunningham, a faculty member of Arrowmont School and Armory Learning Center, who instructs all levels to creatively record how the beauty of Snowbird Mountain Lodge inspires them through painting, collaging and printing
• Encaustic with Kat Fitzpatrick, using beeswax melted with damar crystals and colorful pigment to paint, carve or layer collages with photo transfers and other personally creative artifacts
• Pottery with M.C. and Jim Jerkins. Spend as much of the day as you like forming, decorating, and glazing your creations (the artists will take your work back to their studio and fire it in the kiln and then ship it to you)
• Photography with renowned photography artist, Mark Dauber. Enthusiasts can spend the day with or just drop in as he demonstrates how to capture images of the remarkable flora and fauna of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Nature lovers can partake in wildflower walks or birding adventures with professionals such as urban forester and senior botanist, Leon Bates, a descendant of pioneer mountaineer ancestors or renowned wildlife photographer, botanist and naturalist, Scott Dean. Guests can join walks with John & Nancy Rennie, whose combined knowledge include, horticulture, native plants, and forestry and biology as well as wildflower photography; Liz Domingue, a naturalist, educator, wildlife biologist, photographer, 
 and writer; or Joel & Kathy Zachry, experienced guides 
for breathtaking scenery and safe wildlife observation.

Guests can also partake in breathtaking scenery and wildlife observation with Joel & Kathy Zachry or learn about fireflies and monarch butterflies with outdoor educator and naturalist, Wanda DeWaard. Bird enthusiasts make the pilgrimage to the lodge every year locate and identify migratory birds on walks with Aaron Steed, who has mapped territories and nesting sites
 and banded songbirds and counted migratory hawks or learn bird song and identification with the help of nationally known ornithologist, Simon Thompson.

Accommodations at the Snowbird Mountain Lodge include rooms at the main lodge; the more intimate Chestnut Lodge, the secluded Wolfe Cottage, or the Snowbird Creek House. For more information about planning a time to indulge in the creative inspiration of art and nature, go to

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