Banner Elk is a town in Avery County, North Carolina, United States. The area surrounding the Elk River was inhabited by Cherokee Indians before western settlement, although no evidence of a permanent Cherokee settlement has ever been found. It is likely the area was used for hunting and fishing. The first permanent settlement was established by Martin L. Banner 1848. Although the Banner family originally came from Wales, Martin Banner moved from Forsyth County located in the piedmont region of North Carolina. Eventually, the Banner family grew to 55 members, and the area where they lived became known as Banners Elk. This name was later shortened to Banner Elk when the town was incorporated in 1911 (Heritage, 1976).
During summer time there is hiking, whitewater rafting, fishing, and other activities. The largest lake in the area, Watauga Lake, is a favorite spot just 30 minutes away for boating, fishing and wake boarding. In the winter the main event is skiing and snowboarding. There are two slopes in the area: Beech Mountain (Beech, as in the Beech tree) and Sugar Mountain. There used to be a third, but in the winter of 2008-2009, Hawks' Nest became an all tubing park, the largest on the East Coast.
There are several restaurants in Banner Elk in addition to a post office, bank, and many lodging choices. Generally, Banner Elk is known as a quiet and peaceful town. Every year the town hosts the annual Woolly Worm festival. In the 1970s, Beech Mountain was home to a theme park based on the Land of Oz, but it closed after ten years. The attraction was never fully removed, and there have been various attempts to revive it.