There is much to see along the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of America’s most scenic drives, during the fall foliage color show. Here are our “Top 12 Free Parkway Places to Explore” in the Asheville area (all free to visit), beginning north and traveling south:
• Milepost 304 – Linn Cove Viaduct: After driving across the famous bridge at Grandfather Mountain, stop at the Visitor Center to read about the construction and hike underneath it.
• Milepost 316 – Linville Falls: See the most photographed waterfall in North Carolina via two trails in the Linville Gorge.
• Milepost 328 – The Orchard at Altapass: Apple orchard turned Appalachian Cultural Center celebrates the music, crafts, food and beauty of the mountains.
• Milepost 339 – Crabtree Falls: Take a 2.5-mile hike to the beautiful 70-foot waterfall.
• Milepost 355 – Mt. Mitchell: Drive to the summit of the highest peak east of the Rockies, and walk a short trail to the observation deck for panoramic mountain scenery.
• Milepost 364 – Craggy Gardens: See spectacular mountain views from 5,500 feet. Enjoy the crisp air, picnic amidst rhododendron and hike to the top of Craggy Pinnacle.
• Milepost 382 – Folk Art Center: Enjoy the finest regional traditional and contemporary art with the gallery, craft shop, demonstrations, exhibits and events.
• Milepost 384 – Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center: Learn about the entire 469 miles and history of the Parkway with interactive exhibits.
• Milepost 408 – Mount Pisgah: Have lunch with a view from 5,000 feet at Pisgah Inn, the only restaurant on this section of the Parkway. Hike to the top of Mt. Pisgah.
• Milepost 417 – Skinny Dip Falls: Soak in the views at the Looking Glass Rock Overlook and hike 1/2 mile to Skinny Dip Falls, a beautiful waterfall setting.
• Milepost 419 – Graveyard Fields: This mile-high valley features hiking trails, wildflowers and waterfalls, surrounded by Blue Ridge Mountains.
• Milepost 451 – Waterrock Knob: Stop here for lofty views and hike to the summit.
For more stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway, see the comprehensive Parkway Guide that covers the 170-mile section near Asheville at http://www.romanticasheville.com/BlueRidgeParkway.htm