One of the great benefits of living in North Carolina or South Carolina is the proximity to both Atlantic Ocean beaches and the beauty of the mountains. As the weather turns cooler, it’s time to plan a fall foliage road trip away from the coast in the Carolinas. We’ve rounded up some top suggestions for you to enjoy a colorful adventure on the road.
Those who have any level of interest in leaf peeping can head out to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Also known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” this fall foliage road trip covers 469 miles. Linking Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge is also America’s longest linear park.
Doing the entire parkway could take more than a weekend. So, if you are just looking for a day trip, or an overnight adventure, try the twisty, turning roads along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains nearby Linville Gorge.
Linville Gorge is the deepest canyon east of the Grand Canyon. In fact, the rugged, steep terrain was so off-putting that Linville Gorge is one of the few places in the Blue Ridge Mountains where virgin old-growth forest remains. A popular Linville Gorge overlook is from Wiseman’s View on the western rim.
Also along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can enjoy the seven-mile stretch of Linn Cove Viaduct that weaves around Grandfather Mountain. Considered an “engineering marvel” the viaduct was completed in 1987. You can enjoy walking trails from the bridge museum and visitor center at the south end of the viaduct.
The Nantahala Gorge in the Great Smoky Mountains features colorful fall foliage from Maple Trees and Crimson Oaks. Plus, you’ll be right along the water in many places. Stretching 45 miles, the Nantahala Gorge drive is one you can do there and back in a day. You might even stop for some whitewater rafting along the way. Or take a zipline tour in the area.
Or, to take a stunning hike along a part of the Appalachian Trail, you could drive into the Pisgah National Forest to Max Patch Mountain. Near Hot Springs, Max Patch lets you see Mt. Mitchell to the east and the Great Smoky Mountains to the south on a clear day.
Then there’s the Cherohala Skyway in western North Carolina which has 15 different scenic overlooks for taking in the panoramic view. Taking you into Tennessee, this scenic byway is called “a drive about the clouds” as its elevation ranges from 900 feet to over 5,400 feet.
While you’re in the car, talk with your special someone about your ideas for new fall design trends you want to incorporate at home.
Right on the border with North Carolina, you can enjoy a drive through the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area. In the northwest corner of the state, this 10,000-acre area boasts mountains and expansive views. If you want to take in some waterfalls, this area offers you the choice of Raven Cliffs Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Falls Creek Falls.
The Cherokee Foothills Scenic Byway offers something to see at any time of the year. Yet this 130-mile stretch of road is especially beautiful in the Autumn. On this route, you’ll get the chance to see many notable sites, including:
If you’re in the Charleston area, and just want a day trip, take a trip out to Boone Hall in Mount Pleasant. One of the South’s oldest plantations, this property has a long avenue of massive oaks. In the fall, the Hall also hosts a pumpkin patch, corn maze, and other fall-themed family fun.
Want to enjoy fall weather on a foot tour of Charleston? Check out these favorites.
This year’s fall peak is predicted to be between Oct 12 and 28, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. Driving out to see the leaves changing colors is a lovely way to enjoy the beauty of the Carolinas. But, of course, we see the benefits of living in North Carolina or South Carolina year-round.