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Kristi Parsons | 09.23.2018

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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