Module sponsored by Mountain South USA
The season which we call autumn is known as ‘fall’ in the US, and in North Carolina it heralds the beginning of the greatest free show on earth.
The leaves come alive with a thousand different colours, shades and hues, making this one of the most spectacular annual events in the world.
On top of this, North Carolina plays home to more than 3,500 different plants, including 130 natural species of tree – so it’s the ideal place to watch the different shapes and colours of fall tumble to the ground.
Fall in North Carolina also brings in a variety of wondrous wildlife and rare birds – great for animal enthusiasts and nature lovers.
What better way to experience the Indian Summer of North Carolina than to explore the hidden treasures of Blue Ridge Parkway or the Great Smoky Mountains…
Explore the Blue Ridge Parkway
Hidden deep in the mountainous region of North Carolina lies the picturesque Blue Ridge Parkway (left).
Known as ‘America’s Favourite Drive’, the famous Blue Ridge Parkway consists of 469 miles of drivable roads, of which 250 miles run along the Southern Appalachian ridge.
The Blue Ridge Parkway offers fabulous driving routes and plenty of beauty spots where your inner explorer can stop off and enjoy spectacular panoramic views.
The area is also great for hiking and biking, or, for the romantic at heart, just a leisurely stroll hand in hand with a loved one – it’ll make you fall in love all over again!
Take extra care when planning to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway, as on occasions some areas are sectioned off due to weather restrictions. Visit www.northcarolinatravel.co.uk for the latest updates.
The Majestic Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The majestic Great Smoky Mountains National Park (right) offers the awesome prospect of endless, overlapping mountain ridges running right up to the distant horizon.
Its 9 million visitors a year make it America’s most visited national park. There is an abundance of plant and animal life in the park, including 1,400 flowering plants, 200 species of bird and 60 different mammals.
As a result it has been awarded protected status, and has been declared an international Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Reserve.
Incredible views and beautifully preserved remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture make the Great Smoky Mountains National Park a must-see for visitors to North Carolina. Visit www.northcarolinatravel.co.uk to check the latest travel-related weather restrictions.
Turning Misty Blue
When discovering the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or any part of North Carolina’s mountainous region, look deeper and further into the distance and you’ll discover the wonders of nature.
Throughout the year you will find a bluish haze hovering above the mountains, making the horizon simply magical. The hovering mist is a formed by the combination of water vapour from the trees mixed with the oily forest residue which covers the mountains and fills the nearby valleys.
A great place to view this scientific phenomenon is from the 6,000ft tallest peak on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Places To Visit and Discover
A place unlike any other on earth. Around every corner a surprise waits, with fabulous art, architecture, adventure and an array of international cuisine to suit all tastes.
This historic town is filled with art galleries, jazz bars and cafes, giving Asheville a reputation as the art and music mecca of North Carolina.
Try taking an Asheville Ghost Tour and discover hidden secrets at every twist and turn. A 90 minute tour costs $15 (approximately £9).
Travel five minutes out of town and discover the award-winning Biltmore Estate, Village and Winery (top right), great for a spot of wine tasting and unique souvenir shopping.
If wine is not for you, take the time to tour Chimney Rock Park (bottom right). Just 25 miles from Asheville, this beautiful park – used as a backdrop in the film The Last of the Mohicans – offers refreshing mountain air, invigorating hiking trails and a stunning 404ft waterfall.
Lake Lure is also well worth a visit. The romantic setting was made famous in 1987’s hit film Dirty Dancing and has now become quite an attraction amongst tourists. Visitors can experience the Pontoon Boat Tour around the lake for $10 (approximately £6).
Considered one of the ultimate outdoor adventure destinations in America, Boone offers great biking and hiking trails, camping, white water rafting, kayaking, rock climbing and even skiing in the winter months.
Here you will find the state’s oldest travel attraction, the Blowing Rock (open to the public since 1933). An immense climb to 4,000ft above sea level brings you to the summit, overhanging Johns River Gorge 3,000ft below.
Another must-see is the privately-owned biosphere reserve Grandfather Mountain (left). One of the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge mountain range and a globally recognised nature reserve, Grandfather Mountain stands high above the surrounding region.
With 360-degree panoramic views of the mountain ridge retreating into the horizon, it truly is a sanctuary of discovery for the human spirit.
A great way to view Grandfather Mountain’s highest peak, Linville Peak, is by conquering the Mile High Swinging Bridge, which was constructed for easy access to the breathtaking views. Tickets are $7 for foot passengers (approximately £4) or $14 for vehicles (approximately $9).
A stop off in Durham is definitely worth it, and no visit is complete without seeing the horticultural delights of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens (right) at Duke University.
It is recognised as one of the premier public gardens in the US, renowned for its picturesque landscape design and the quality of its horticulture.
The gardens consist of three major parts: the original Terraces, the HL Blomquist Gardens of Native Flowers and the Culberson Asiatic Arboretum, providing five miles of alleys, walks and pathways to explore. The ultimate highlight is that it’s free to visit.
Airlie Gardens, 67 acres of quintessential Southern gardens, houses 10 acres of freshwater lakes and is situated on the eastern coast of North Carolina.
Come and see the full bloom and blossom of azaleas, camellias and the historic airlie oak. And once you’ve discovered the beautiful gardens, why not take stroll along the charming Wrightsville Beach.
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Module sponsored by Mountain South USA
For the authentic Amercian holiday
All images are courtesy of North Carolina Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development. Bill Russ, Photographer