Think of fall color and you no doubt picture the US Northeast thanks to the spectacular foliage displays. North Carolina, one of our favorite states especially near the Smoky Mountains, is also boasting a lot of color this month; they’ve set up a hotline so you can track the week’s best displays. We received some suggested romantic drives in the mountains where you’ll find plenty of fall color:
Cherohala Skyway National Scenic Byway
97 miles southwest of Asheville
For a glimpse of nature’s beauty beyond compare, travel the 41-mile Cherohala Skyway that connects N.C. Highway 143 from Robbinsville to U.S. Highway 165 in western North Carolina. Often compared with the Blue Ridge Parkway, it follows the crest of the Unicoi Mountains in the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forest, thus the name. The highest point reaches 5,390 ft. Visitors can enjoy majestic views of nature or picnic above the clouds at one of the many overlooks.
Tail of the Dragon (motorcyclist favorite)
10 miles from Boone
This is one of the best places in the U.S. to test drive your skills and courage on a motorcycle or in a car. The drive begins in North Carolina at Cheoah Dam where Harrison Ford jumped off the bridge in “The Fugitive.” The drive encompasses 318 curves in approximately 11 miles with beautiful scenery. Brag to everyone that you “slayed the dragon!”
Hidden Gems along the Blue Ridge Parkway (insider’s favorite)
Check out these little known scenic routes along the Blue Ridge Parkway. In the northwestern part of the state, N.C. Highway 18 between Sparta and West Jefferson will link visitors to these two stops that preserve the small-town feel of the Southern Appalachians. In Sparta, don’t miss Farmer’s Hardware or the quaint main street shops. In West Jefferson, take the downtown walking tours of murals and the Ashe County Cheese Factory. Southbound travelers can pick up N.C. Highway 18 by exiting the Parkway at Milepost 229 and taking U.S. Highway 21 to Sparta. Northbound travelers can exit the Parkway onto U.S. Highway 421 at Milepost 281, then follow the signs to West Jefferson. In either direction, the scenery nourishes the soul, with small, idyllic farms and sparkling streams along the way.
For More Information:
• Fall Color Hotline: 1-866-6LEAVES (866-653-2837)
• Fall Fishing Hotline: 1-888-2 FISH NC (888-234-7462)
• General Travel Information: 1-800-VISIT NC (800-847-4862)