Itineraries for Exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina

Because of its vastness—more than 11,000 square miles—the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area is best explored by vehicle, whether it be automobile or motorcycle. Bicycling and hiking are good options for shorter distances.

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Here are some suggested itineraries to get you started. Some are local, based on a single community; others will take you far and wide through much of the region.

In planning the best use of your NC mountains vacation days, know that the region can be divided into three sub-regions for ease of exploration:

  • The far west includes Cherokee, the Nantahala Gorge, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • The central region includes Asheville, Hendersonville, Chimney Rock State Park, the waterfalls of Transylvania County, and many more highlights.
  • The High Country includes Grandfather Mountain, Linville Falls, Boone, Blowing Rock, and the high northern mountains. Further to the east are beautiful, rolling foothills with State Parks and vineyards.

The Blue Ridge Parkway threads through the entire region, from Cherokee to the Virginia border, and serves as a "Main Street" through the area. In addition to the unmatched scenic beauty that can be viewed from the Parkway, communities along the way are jewels of Blue Ridge heritage and culture, with great food, museums, craft, music, and shopping. There are also numerous state Scenic Byways to explore.