Yesterday was the first day back to school for many kids, including those in Haywood County. The rumbling of those big yellow buses can only mean one thing: summer is dwindling away and fall is well on its way. Don’t be sad, though, because this is one of the grandest seasons of all. There is no other time of the year I love more than the fall season in the Great Smoky Mountains. Autumn is such a special time here in the mountains for many reasons, and I personally invite you to come experience all that this majestic season has to offer.
You can start to feel it now, with cooler nights becoming more frequent, days growing shorter—and before long, the first of the leaves will begin to turn. But while the trees may not be turning quite yet, now is the time to start planning and booking that autumn trip, especially if you’re leaning towards a weekend visit. Want a local tip? Check out a weekday trip this Fall—you’ll find less crowds and more accommodation availability, which means you can spend less time worrying and more time enjoying! I am confident that after just one trip, you’ll fall in love with Autumn in Haywood just like so many other people have.
Obviously, scenic drives are one of the biggest draws to the area in the fall. With just a short drive to Haywood County’s four different access points on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a beautiful scenic drive is one of the easiest ways to experience fall color. Need a few tips on routes to take? Check out our Visit NC Smokies Motorcycle Rides guide. Whether you are cruising by car or motorcycle, this guide provides some of the very best routes to experience scenic beauty and crisp, fall colors. If you want to get even more up close with the views, make a stop at one of the 70+ vistas and overlooks along Haywood County’s 46 miles of Blue Ridge Parkway. Don’t forget your hiking boots too, because many of the stops have access to points to amazing hiking trails, like Graveyard Fields, the Art Loeb Trail, and Waterrock Knob, just to name a few.
Fall is also a very unique time to visit Cataloochee Valley because of the rut season for the wild elk who inhabit the valley. Rut is also known as the breeding season and it is a very active time in Cataloochee. It allows an opportunity to experience bull elks “bugling” to claim dominance over the female elk and other bulls. There is sometimes even sparring between bull elk, which means there is plenty of drama to check out! If you’re interested, I recommend checking out the Elk Watching 101 blog. You’ll learn more about this season and how to safely make the most of your visit to Cataloochee Valley.
Besides exploring the many outdoor adventures that are heightened during the fall season, Haywood County also has some pretty cool agritourism experiences during this time of year. One of my many favorite traditions is the Cold Mountain Corn Maze. As one of the few authentic corn mazes in Western North Carolina, you’ll never think getting lost could be this much fun! You can also take home some of the bountiful harvest from our local farms – we have many farmers markets, roadside produce stands, and specialty retail stores.
Fall is also the height of apple season, so make sure you stop by Barbers Orchard Stand for a variety of locally grown apples (and don’t forget to pick up a dozen apple cider donuts or fritters). Speaking of apples, Haywood County offers a variety signature fall events that are reason enough to visit.
These are just a few of the MANY reasons why you will fall in love with Haywood County this autumn. For more suggestions and help planning your trip, stop by or call the Haywood County Visitor Center – 1110 Soco Rd, Maggie Valley, NC 28751 – 800.334.9036. Or you can download or order a free Visit NC Smokies Visitor Guide or sign up for our monthly e-newsletter to help plan your trip. So what are you waiting for? Start falling in love with Haywood County now!