Our Five Favorite Fall Drives in North Carolina

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Fall is wonderful for five things: football, running, pumpkin spice lattes, killer boots, and beautiful North Carolina mountain drives. Some of our favorite drives are below … hopefully our readers love drives, if not, I’m so sorry this post is going to bore you. I hate that we don’t know much about our readers, but I can only hope you guys like our content! 

  1. Blue Ridge Parkway – This drive is by no means off the beaten path, unless of course you’re comparing it with the streets of Downtown Manhattan. Blue Ridge Parkway draws 15+ million visitors each year, making it the National Park Service’s most admired attraction. Even though millions of visitors take a journey on the Blue Ridge Parkway each year, when we drive it, we feel we’re among the few that are actually enjoying it. There’s no congested traffic, but we do occasionally get stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle. That’s not terrible, since we drive the Blue Ridge Parkway to enjoy the views of the beautiful vistas. Marc has never driven the M3 like it is meant to be driven while on the Blue Ridge Parkway. At least not with me as his passenger. It’s an absolutely beautiful drive and I highly recommend all leaf-lookers take a journey on this road. After all, traveling should be about the journey, not the destination. Note: take time to stop at the overlooks. Each one offers a very unique stunning view.
  2. Tail of the Dragon (TOD) – I don’t even know where to begin. This road is absolutely ridiculous as a passenger in a vehicle. At least as the passenger in a M3 with Marc behind the wheel. Located on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, TOD is America’s number one motorcycle and sports car road with 318 curves in just 11 miles. If you go mid-day, you’ll barely move faster than an old lady in a walker due to traffic, but if you arrive early in the morning, you can get a clean run (ladies: a “run” means a clean drive without having to tap your breaks because some leaf-looker is in front of you, just in case you don’t already know; it took me a few times to catch onto the lingo). Despite my instincts routinely telling me I am a complete moron for riding in the passenger’s seat, I thoroughly love drives on the TOD. It’s an adrenaline rush and I am an adrenaline junky. Although, it’s not about how fast you go (and I recommend not going fast), it is simply how well you handle the curves. Notes: TOD is a dangerous road. Do not cross over the double yellow lines and be extremely cautious. There are tons of bikers on road, so keep your eyes peeled for them, as well.  An air lift out of the place cost one driver $19,000, so that’s just another reason to play it safe.

  3. Cherohalah Skyway – Located near the TOD (making a glorious loop), I love Cherohalah Skyway for its 60 miles of remote, scenic mountain views. It’s an amazing road with swift, wide turns. In some aspects, I enjoy it more than the Blue Ridge Parkway since you can drive faster while still looking at the gorgeous scenery. Being the passenger on this road makes me want to kick Marc out of the driver’s seat, so I can know what it feels like to drive a sports car on this skyway! Maybe this fall, Marc? Note: this road can also be dangerous. There was a tragic fatality on it this month, September 2011. While you can drive faster on it than the first two drives I mentioned, take it easy, as the road can be tricky.  The turns can sneak up on you. There are more car fatalities on the Cherohala than TOD. 
  4. Whitewater Way – I’d be lying if I said I’ve actually driven this, but it’s one I will experience this fall. If I’m not mistaken, Marc has driven at least some of this road with his car friends. I can’t wait to experience the vivid fall color amidst a stunning backdrop of numerous waterfalls. I’ve heard it’s the most striking and lively scenery in North Carolina. Notes: bring your camera! I’ve seen incredible pictures from friends who have been on this drive.
  5. Nantahala Byway – Forty-three miles of road make up the Nantahala Scenic Byway within the Nantahala National Forest. Areas of interest include the Nantahala Gorge, Cherokee Indian Reservation, Great Smokey Mountains National Park, and Fontana Lake. If whitewater rafting, kayaking, or canoeing is your niche, then the Nantahala River will sure please you. Notes: wear active clothing and make this trip memorable by doing outdoor activities! As with my other notes, please drive safely!

What are you favorite fall drives in the United States? Or in the world? Marc and I would die to drive on the Autobahn (and will someday, Marc claims, when he does a European delivery of a new BMW).

~ Lyndsi

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