Start planning your getaway to North Carolina mountain resorts as early as possible. The resplendent fall scenery of the Appalachian Mountain range is a draw for tens of thousands of visitors to the region annually. The breathtaking beauty of the changing leaves – in vibrant yellows, oranges, reds and purples – is a sight to behold. That is why ‘peak foliage’ tops our list of reasons to plan an escape to North Carolina mountain resorts. Peak foliage generally runs from the last week of September to the first week of November each year.
Five Reasons to Plan a Fall Escape to North Carolina Mountain Resorts
- Peak Foliage – Romantic Asheville.com offers a handy list of the best places to see peak foliage in the North Carolina Mountains. Spanning a period of five weeks, peak foliage begins in the upper mountain regions and makes its way down. In the Haywood County, Maggie Valley and Waynesville area, located right in the center of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, around the second week of October is when foliage usually ‘peaks’ or reaches the greatest color saturation. However, you will still see beautiful color throughout the fall season in all of these mountain areas, as well as along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Sometimes nature intervenes to change the peak foliage schedule, as with an early frost or unusually warm weather, but you can normally rely on it. Haywood County boasts 18 mountain peaks above 6,000 feet, providing the most extraordinary views of the fall foliage and mountain scenery.
- Fun, Exciting Things to Do – Fall is the time of year when pumpkins, apples, ciders, fairs, fall festivals, jellies, jams and fruit preserves play a prominent role in the lives of the locals as well as tourists. There is a crisp clean smell in the cool mountain air. If you’re in the mood for getting back to the land, take a tour of an apple orchard. Sky Top Orchard in Flat Rock, NC, offers tours, with 22 apple tree varieties, pear and peach trees, a plethora of handmade food and cider products – and their famous cider doughnuts. Waynesville, the county seat of Haywood County, offers its famous Apple Harvest Festival on October 20, 2018, ranked among the top fall festivals in the state. From apple cider to apple dumplings, hand-cranked ice cream, live music and local crafts, the Apple Harvest Festival is ‘not to be missed’ and also coincides with peak fall foliage in the area, so you get a double treat. Barber Orchard Fruit Stand in Waynesville offers apple treats, apples, local produce and cider from August 1st through December 24th. It’s located on Old Balsam Road in Waynesville.
- All Aboard the Tweetsie Railroad – Is a trip to North Carolina Mountain resorts complete without a ride on the Tweetsie Railroad? We think not. Located between Boone and Blowing Rock, the Tweetsie Railroad is open from April through December, with special events – The Ghost Train® runs from 9/21 – 10/27 and the Tweetsie Christmas from 11/23 – 12/29. In addition to stunning foliage views from the train as it crosses the mountain peaks and valleys (sights you couldn’t view in a vehicle), you’ll be treated to live entertainment, great food and theme park rides and activities for the kids.
- The Magnificent Monarch Butterfly Migration – Starting in the middle of September, the beautiful Monarch butterflies begin a mass migration through the North Carolina mountains on their way to Mexico. The best viewing spot, according to the NC Park Service, is located at Wagon Road Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Monarchs have suffered heavy losses in recent years, due to several factors, including the loss of Milkweed habitat. But they still make a stunning show in their mass migration.
- Just a Day Trip from All of Western North Carolina – From Biltmore Estate in Asheville to Harrah’s Cherokee Resort and Casino in Cherokee and the Cataloochee Ski Resort in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, the area is brimming with resorts, parks and attractions. Fortunately, they are all within an easy day trip of each other.
Plan your North Carolina Mountain Resort Itinerary
Our favorite place to stay in the North Carolina Mountains is the Meadowlark Motel in Maggie Valley. They feature a range of accommodations, from guest rooms to a cabin or cottage right on scenic Jonathan Creek. Meadowlark also has a Beer & Wine Tasting Program, offers in-room spa services, and features an array of guest activities throughout the year. Maggie Valley is the ideal home base as you explore the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – it’s literally minutes away – 46 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway runs through Haywood County. Plan your itinerary for a day trip to Asheville, then include a day trip to Cherokee, and don’t forget the Tweetsie Railroad, peak foliage viewing, orchard tours and the Apple Festival in neighboring Waynesville. Of course, there’s plenty to do right in Maggie Valley. Start planning your getaway today!
Photo By: Dr. Michael A. Milton, Creative Commons License