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Plan the Ultimate Fall Foliage Road Trip in Western North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway Fall

The upcoming fall holidays and long weekends mean one thing: it’s time to get out of the house and make the most of those vacation days. In our opinion, the best way to spend them is on a scenic road trip to Haywood County. Our five mountain towns are a perfect place to have an awesome autumn adventure. But don’t take our word for it—follow our guide below and see for yourself what a fall in the Smokies is all about.

What to Pack
great-smoky-mountains-national-park-waterfalls

During the fall, temperatures will be cool during the day but may drop at night, so check our local weather forecasts before you leave and pack accordingly. The most important thing you should bring along is your pet! There’s no reason to leave them cooped up at home—we’re one of the best pet-friendly destinations in the state, with welcoming lodging and dining spots.
Don’t miss: pet-friendly things to do here.

Views & Hiking
Art Loeb Trail | Visit NC Smokies

As one of the most beautiful drives around, a cruise along the Blue Ridge Parkway offers remarkable views of fall in the Smoky Mountains. You’ll find plenty of vistas along the BRP, all of which are the perfect place to capture your long-lasting vacation pic—so add a camera to your packing list. Many of these vistas and parking areas double as trailheads with hikes perfect for everyone from young hikers to seasoned climbers looking for a challenge.
Don’t miss: Graveyard Fields, Richland Balsam, Looking Glass Falls, our Leaf-Peeping Guide.

Stay Awhile
Couple sitting creekside at Jonathon Creek Inn in Maggie Valley, NC

With all the things to see and do here, you’re going to want to stay awhile. And we can’t blame you. Our piece of the Smoky Mountains offers places to stay for every budget, while still providing neighborly kindness and Southern hospitality. If you’re bringing the whole family, choose a vacation home with plenty of room. Cabins are perfect for a cozy stay. Hotels and motels are the perfect way to stay under budget while still getting the quality visit you’re after.
Don’t miss: Cataloochee Ranch, Route 19, The Swag, Jonathon Creek Inn.

What to Eat
Maggie Valley Restaurant

While you’re here, do yourself a favor and indulge in our highly-rated local cuisine. From pancake houses with cult-like followings to farm-to-table restaurants with rotating menus, there are plenty of ways to taste Appalachian flavor in the Smoky Mountains. It’s not just the food either—our local firewater promises to leave a lasting impression.
Don’t miss: Joey’s Pancake House, J-Ro’s Burgers & Subs, Elevated Mountain Distilling Company, Boojum Brewing Company.

Motorcycles Welcome
Motorcycle Ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Not every road trip needs a car, and no one knows that better than us. We’re biker-friendly around these parts! With priceless views and miles of curves, it’s hard to blame anyone wanting to take an exciting ride through our county.
Don’t miss: our motorcycle route map.

Meet Our Famous Elk

Two bull elks headbutting in the morning fog at Cataloochee Valley | Photo by Adrienne Rainy

Photo by Adrienne Rainey, 1st Place Winner of the 2019 Smoky Mountain Elk Fest Photo Contest

Whatever your plans are (or lack thereof), we highly recommend finding time to take in a bit of nature. More specifically, our gang of wild elk. During fall, the male elk will strut their stuff in time for mating season. While this spectacle is great for photos and videos, please remember that elk are wild animals. Please follow our elk-watching safety tips to keep yourself safe.
Don’t miss: Cataloochee Valley, Elk-Watching 101.

Take Your Pick of Fun

 

Agritourism is blossoming in Haywood County. Don’t take our word for it, bring the fruits of our labor home with you—err, gourds? Starting in October, our shops will be selling their locally grown pumpkins and squash, just in time for the fall festivities. So, add “pumpkin picking” to your Smoky Mountain to-do list!
Don’t miss: Barber Orchard Fruitstand, Duckett’s Produce, Ledford Produce Market, Maggie Mountaineer Craft.

Looking forward to Winter?

We can’t wait for winter to bring its magical adventures to our mountains either. It’ll be here before you know it, so get started on planning your trip! Find a place to call home while you’re away from home. Then, fill your days with skiing, snowboarding, hiking, or any of our other adventures.

Taking a fall road trip is one of the best ways to enjoy the colorful season with close friends and family. With so much to do in the NC Smokies, you should consider making us your home base for a fall escape.

Don’t forget to take photos of your journeys and tag those posts with #HAYNOW to be featured on our page!

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