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A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains

09.26.18

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A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains

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  • The view of Looking Glass Rock from the Blue Ridge Parkway is just one of many spots to take in all the beauty of autumn in the Appalachians. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • An autumn view from the Craggy Gardens Pinnacle on the Blue Ridge Parkway. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • A beautiful view is always best when shared with a friend. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Spending the day adventuring on the Blue Ridge Parkway? Grab lunch at the Pisgah Inn and take a moment to watch the storms roll in. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • The Mount Pisgah Campground is an excellent place to set up a base camp if you plan on exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway for a few days. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • The view from the Frying Pan Lookout Tower.- A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Southward view of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Looking Glass Rock from the Frying Pan Lookout Tower. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • The Linn Cove Viaduct is an excellent spot to take in the Blue Ridge Mountains in autumn.- A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Graveyard Fields is the perfect spot for exploring with the family, or even your favorite canine! - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Looking Glass Rock as seen from the parkway near mile marker 415.- A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Beautiful autumn colors on the parkway near mile marker 385.- A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Sunset from Craggy Pinnacle on the Blue Ridge Parkway.- A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • View from one of the campsites on Table Rock overlooking the Linville Gorge. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • View of the Linville Gorge area from Table Rock. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Autumn colors spreading across the hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Foothills Parkway is a scenic drive in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The new section of the parkway, near Townsend, is scheduled to be open by the end of the 2018. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Lounging on one of the balds in the Smoky Mountains.- A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Mouse Creek Falls is located on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.- A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Sunset from Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.- A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • The Middle Prong Trail in the Tremont section of the Smokies is a fantastic fall adventure spot for families and more. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Cable Mill in Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.- A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Viewpoint from Newfound Gap, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.- A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Looking to hang out and sleep above the clouds? The LeConte Lodge is a perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.- A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park is known as the salamander capital of the world, making the Smoky Mountain story, "Salamander Ball," a perfect campfire story! - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Dawn from the Mount Sterling fire tower.- A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Roam the hills of Grayson Highlands with the ponies! - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • The Grayson Highlands section of the AT and Appalachians is one of the most unique areas that you'll find. Mix it with the colors of autumn and you may not want to go home.- A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • The Mingus Mill was built in 1886 and is still a working mill today. Stop in from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. any day of the week to get a full Appalachian autumn experience. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the top drives in the country for leaf-peeping, but a cruise down the Smokies Newfound Gap will leave you in awe as well. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • And that's why we call them the Blue Ridge Mountains. This image was taken from a section of the Appalachian Trail near Clingmans Dome. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Craggy Gardens is a must-stop spot during autumn in the Blue Ridge Mountains. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Visit the North Carolina side of the Smokies and Gooseberry Knob at The Swag to soak up this view. You can stay at The Swag or dine there or hike there via trails in the Great Smoky Mountains. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • The view from Gooseberry Knob at The Swag on the North Carolina side of the Smokies is like no other. Join The Swag on Wednesdays for a gourmet picnic lunch served right on the bald as you soak up the scenery. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Hop a ride in Damascus, Virginia to White Top, and leaf-peep as you cruise the Virginia Creeper Trail for 17 miles back into town. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • The Virginia Creeper Trail is a bucket-list must year round, but it needs to be pushed to the top spot during the autumn months. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • As you cruise the Virginia Creeper Trail, take time to stop off along the way and explore. Don't forget cash to grab snacks, drinks or even lunch along the way.  - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • One weekend: the Appalachian Trail, the ponies of Grayson Highlands, a cozy trail town, and a 17-mile downhill bike ride...Can it really get much better than that? - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Take the family for a stroll under a canopy filled with the colors of autumn on a weekend getaway in the Smokies. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Meigs Falls in the Smokies can be seen while driving Little River Road in the park. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • The Cataloochee Divide Trail is absolutely stunning in her shades of yellow when autumn rolls into town. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • The Smoky Mountains at their finest. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • The view from Hemphill Bald is unforgettable during leaf-peeping season in North Carolina. Hike to the bald from The Swag, stay at the Cataloochee Ranch, or hike to the bald via trails in the Smokies. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Cataloochee in the Smokies isn't only a prime spot for taking in autumn, it is also filled with history. The area was once a thriving Appalachian community as well as a Cherokee hunting ground. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • Even if you roll into town before the colors are popping, you'll feel the crispness of autumn in the mountains and walk away from your weekend relaxed and reenergized. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • One of the bulls that are allowed to roam free on the outskirts of the Grayson Highlands.- A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • A hiker heading uphill to a lookout while hiking from Grayson Highlands to the summit of Mount Rogers. - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
  • With Grayson Highlands State Park's never-ending views and ponies roaming the hills, it's almost as if a little slice of heaven has been placed right on the Appalachian Trail.  - A Guide to Leaf-peeping Weekends in the Blue Ridge Mountains
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Contributor

Autumn is in the air, and if there's one place on the East Coast that will take your breath away when the leaves begin to show their true colors, it's the Blue Ridge Mountains. Running through eight states, the Blue Ridge Mountains were given their name due to the never-ending sea of mountain ridges that appear to be blue when seen from a distance. Just like the entire Appalachian Mountains range, this smaller portion never runs short on beauty or places to explore. We're only going to focus on three states in the central region. Each adventure weekend gives you a wide mix of ways to explore and get to know each area on a local level. However, don't hesitate to mix and match. Take a week off and explore all three adventure weekend spots. Check out our database, or put together your own weekend of exploring the rest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Weekend #1: "Virginia is for lovers (and leaf-peepers)" - Virginia

Roam the land of the wild ponies, hike on the AT, get cozy in an Appalachian Trail town, ride the Virginia Creeper and find out quickly why they say "Virginia is for lovers." Because on your way home on Sunday night, you'll find that you have fallen head-over-hills in love with this corner of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

  • Friday: Check into your accommodations at the Grayson Highlands State Park. Choose between backcountry camping, a campsite at the campground, or one of their four yurts. Explore the park, hang your hammock, make s'mores, and enjoy the cooler temps. 
  • Saturday: Wake up early, head for the sunrise on Wilburn Ridge, and then take a hike out to Mount Rogers. Your hike will be filled with the ponies of Grayson, incredible views, the Appalachian Trail, and even longhorn cattle. Once you've reached the Mount Rogers summit, you'll hike back to Wilburn Ridge and the park. Spend the evening relaxing at camp or go for a change of scenery and hike the short Cabin Creek Trail to a tranquil waterfall, an area that is also great for fishing. 
  • Sunday: Rise up, pack up, and head down to Damascus. Damascus is a laid-back trail town that will make you want to toss your weekday life out the window and make the mountains your future. Stop in at Mojos Trailside Cafe for a fresh and delicious breakfast. As soon as you're fueled up, go next door to the Sundog Outfitter shop for a bike ride on the infamous Virginia Creeper Trail. Cruise down the Creeper slowly, because once the ride is over - your weekend escape is over. Reservations are recommended at any of the bike rental spots in Damascus.

Weekend #2 "Color chasing on the Blue Ridge Parkway" - North Carolina 

The entire Blue Ridge Parkway is absolutely incredible in the fall, and chances are good you won't be able to see it all. However, if you're going to be roaming the Blue Ridge from Cherokee to Blowing Rock, North Carlolina, you can build your own adventure from the list below. You'll find an unlimited amount of places to explore, but if you're passing by the Pisgah area, consider grabbing lunch at the Pisgah Inn. The Inn has a backyard like no other, and even a row of rocking chairs to take it all in. Looking to stay the night, book a room at the inn or hop across the parkway and stay at the Mount Pisgah Campground. If you decide to wander on the other end, check out the Switzerland Inn and Switzerland Cafe in the charming little town of Little Switzerland. Going further north? Camp at the Julian Price Campground, Crabtree Falls Campground (first-come, first-served) or go backcountry style and find a spot under the stars in the Linville Gorge area. 

Top five ways to color chase on the Blue Ridge Parkway: 

Weekend #3: "Autumn beauty, the only ten I see is in Tennessee" - Tennessee

America's most visited national park sees a flood of visitors every autumn, and there's a reason why. From Tennessee to the North Carolina side, the park is packed with places to experience autumn in the Appalachians. Visitors can choose from 16 shelters, over 100 backcountry campsites, 10 frontcountry campgrounds with 950 campsites total, and the LeConte Lodge all located inside the park, not to mention the campgrounds and hotels outside of the park such as Gatlinburg's newest hotel, The Appy Lodge, which is fully based on the Appalachian Trail. There is no shortage of places for a weekend getaway and autumn time play. Pick a place to stay, make a list of adventures and get on your way - because fall is definitely not here to stay! 

Links to help you get started with planning the ultimate autumn weekend in the Smokies: 

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