The Blue Ridge Parkway extends 469 miles through North Carolina and Virginia, meandering through the central and southern Appalachian Mountains. It is often called “America’s favorite drive.” While every mile of the scenic parkway offers beautiful scenery, glimpses of Cherokee life, Appalachian culture, mountains, valleys, flora and fauna, there are a few spots considered among the best for North Carolina sightseeing. These are places to stop, pull off the road and just say, “wow”. On the parkway, you will see some of the oldest mountains in the world, splendid waterfalls, breathtaking vistas and the habitat for hundreds of wildlife.
Best Places on the Parkway for North Carolina Sightseeing
- Mount Mitchell – This is the highest mountain peak in the eastern United States. Located at Milepost 355.4, Mount Mitchell State Park covers 1,855 acres surrounding Mount Mitchell. The mountain itself is 6,684 feet tall. You can reach the summit by taking NC 128 at the milepost marker. The observation deck offers 360-degree views. Additionally, the park offers picnic spots, hiking trails and, seasonally, a restaurant and gift shop.
- New River – See the oldest river in North America. Aside from fishing and water sports, the river is just a beautiful sight to behold.
- Linville Gorge / Linville Falls – Visit the deepest gorge east of the Grand Canyon. Linville Falls is the most famous waterfall in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It’s located between Milepost 316.3 and 317.8. Because of its size and grandeur, the gorge is sometimes called ‘the Grand Canyon of the Appalachians.’ There is a visitor center and campground, as well as hiking trails and overlooks to view the waterfall.
- Whitewater Falls – Known as the highest falls east of the Rockies, Whitewater Falls is located on the Whitewater River in Jackson County, North Carolina. Tens of thousands make the pilgrimage to see it annually.
The Appalachian Mountains offer some of the best North Carolina sightseeing in the entire state. Other amazing places you may want to visit along the parkway include: Moses Cone Park, the Linn Cove Viaduct, Grandfather Mountain, Little Switzerland, Craggy Gardens and the Folk Art Center.
Where to Stay Near the Best North Carolina Sightseeing Spots
Maggie Valley is centrally located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with an entrance onto the Blue Ridge Parkway at Soco Gap, off Soco Road (the main road through the town). Maggie Valley is part of Haywood County, which is home to 46 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The town offers its own unique attractions, such as Wheels Through Time Museum, the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds, Ghost Town in the Sky theme park, the Cataloochee Valley elk, and the most popular attraction, the Cataloochee Ski Area.
As you’re planning your vacation on the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’ll want to find a place to stay overnight. Maggie Valley is a great town to use as a home base, because you can reach all of the most popular towns and attractions in the Appalachian Mountains within just a short drive or an easy day trip. Cherokee Indian Reservation and Harrah’s Casino are just a short drive from Maggie Valley. Don’t forget to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well, because when you’re in Maggie Valley, it’s right at your doorstep. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers fun for the whole family and it always ranks high on any list of the best places for North Carolina sightseeing. Cades Cove, a historic village, is the most popular attraction inside the park, and Rainbow Falls is another popular attraction.
There are a number of places to stay in Maggie Valley, but our favorite is the Meadowlark Motel. They offer free Wi-Fi and a free continental breakfast, a range of accommodations, from a guest room to a cottage or cabin. There’s an outdoor pavilion and recreation area overlooking a rushing creek right on the property. This pet-friendly motel has a friendly staff that will hand out free dog treats upon arrival. They also offer a lot of special guest services, including wine and craft beer tasting nights, family nights, Saturday night cookouts, free concerts on Sundays by local musicians and more.
Start planning your North Carolina sightseeing vacation on the Blue Ridge Parkway today!
Photo by kalacreative via pixabay.com