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Plan the Ultimate Fall Foliage Road Trip in Western North Carolina

Road Trip in Haywood County

All of the upcoming fall holidays and long weekends present plenty of opportunities to get away from home and relax before you lose your vacation days. If you’re hoping to take a last-minute road trip, make it worth your while and take the scenic route to Haywood County.  Our five mountain towns are a perfect place to have an autumn adventure.

But we know it can be hard to start planning your fall road trip, so we’ve put together this guide to help make it easier!


What to Pack

During the fall, temperatures will be cool during the day and drop at night, but make sure to check our local weather forecasts before you leave and pack appropriately. Don’t forget to pack the essentials: your pets! There’s no reason to leave your best friend on four legs cooped up at home—we’re one of the best pet-friendly destinations in the state, offering several welcoming accommodation and dining options for your furry friends. Don’t miss: pet-friendly things to do here.

Haywood County Fall Mountains

Views & Hiking

As one of the most picturesque drives around, a cruise along the Blue Ridge Parkway offers unparalleled views of the Smoky Mountains. You’ll find dozens of vistas located along the BRP throughout Haywood County and plenty of opportunities to capture that perfect vacation pic, so be sure to bring your camera. Many of these vistas and parking areas double as hiking trailheads, varying in difficulty suitable for young hikers and novices to seasoned climbers looking for a challenge. Don’t miss: Graveyard Fields, Richland Balsam, Looking Glass Falls, our Leaf-Peeping Guide.

Stay a While

There are plenty of sights to see and things to do in the NC Smokies, so although we wish you could experience everything we have to offer in one day, you’re going to want to stay a while. Our county offers places to stay for every budget, while still providing neighborly kindness and Southern hospitality. Don’t miss: Cataloochee Ranch, The Swag, Jonathon Creek Inn.

Boojum Brewing Company

What to Eat

While you’re here, you have to take the time to 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 doesn’t have to just be eaten either—our local firewater promises to leave a lasting impression. Don’t miss: Joey’s Pancake House, Frog’s Leap Public House, Elevated Mountain Distilling Company, Boojum Brewing Company.

Celebrate with Us

Any excuse to celebrate is fine by us! Our autumnal harvest brings ripe fruit and fall colors our way, and we go all out to celebrate. We’ve also inherited a deep admiration for our culture’s traditions arts and crafts, so we host several of the finest seasonal art shows around. Don’t miss: Apple Harvest Festival, Church Street Arts & Crafts Festival, Maggie Valley Fall Arts and Crafts Show.

Motorcycle Ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Motorcycles Welcome

Not every road trip needs a car, and no one knows that better than the folks in Haywood County. We’re very cycle-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.

Cataloochee Elk

Our Famous Elk

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 try their best to impress any female elk onlookers and prove themselves suitable mates. While this spectacle is great for photos and videos, please remember that elk are wild animals and to adhere to our elk-watching safety tips. Don’t miss: Cataloochee Valley and Elk-Watching 101.

Ten Acre Gardens

Take Your Pick of Fun

Agritourism is blossoming in Haywood County. With many apple orchards opening up for the autumn harvest, picking apples and enjoying warm apple cider is a great way to spend a day. Many of the fresh fruits and veggies found on our U-Pick farms end up on plates in our local restaurants, so freshness and quality is guaranteed. Don’t miss: Ten Acre Garden, Barber Orchards, Historic Haywood Market.

Taking a fall road trip is one of the best ways to enjoy the season with close friends and family. With so much to do in the NC Smokies, we hope you’ll consider stopping by along the way or making us your final destination.

Don’t forget to take lots of photos and tag your social posts with #HAYNOW to be featured in our future social and blog posts!

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