Brown Mountain, seated in the Pisgah National Forest, is on the border of Burke and Caldwell counties in Western North Carolina.
Enjoy the scenic route:
Take I-40 and exit at Old Fort (Exit 72). Continue straight through the town of Old Fort. After 11.5 miles (from exit) you'll reach an intersection and traffic light with a Wal-Mart on the left. Take a left there onto 221 North, and travel 29.4 miles. There, turn right (beside a gas station) onto Highway 181 and travel 9.5 miles. At mile marker 20, you'll find a pull-off on the left side of the road. Brown Mountain is the long, low-lying ridge straight across from the overlook, 3.5 miles away. There are currently no signs identifying the mountain.
Approx. travel time is 1 hour 15 min. from the Old Fort exit.
Or, try the more direct route:
From I-40, take Exit 100 (Morganton). After coming off the exit ramp, go 3.2 miles toward Morganton (left if you're traveling East and right if you're traveling West), and take a left at the stop light onto 181 North. Travel 18.8 miles: You'll find the pull-off on the right at mile marker 20.
Approx. travel time is 30 min. from exit.
You can also see the lights from other various points in the area, like Wiseman's View (on the edge of the Linville Gorge), or Grandfather Mountain. However, the overlook on 181 is by far the best spot.