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12 Highway Journeys in North Carolina for Miles of Adventures


North Carolina has a number of roads. Not simply four-lane highways filled with screaming automobiles however two-lane roads by way of peaceable corners of the state. The roads cross mountains and seashores, move by way of small cities and massive cities, and join historical past, tradition, and meals. However what are one of the best roads to see the state?

From scenic byways to US Highways, these street journeys are one of the best for exploring the whole lot North Carolina presents. The one factor tough about these street journeys is selecting which one to drive. The simple half is having fun with the scenic views, charming cities, and sights.

Which of those street journeys in North Carolina would you get pleasure from driving subsequent?

The Linn Cove Viaduct is among the most iconic websites on North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Linn Cove Viaduct is among the most iconic websites on North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway.

No. 01

Blue Ridge Parkway

251 miles | 2-3 days

The 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway is among the nation’s hottest street journey routes. In North Carolina, the Parkway begins at Cumberland Knob Recreation Space and ends in Cherokee on the fringe of the Nice Smoky Mountains Nationwide Park.

The 251 miles by way of North Carolina embody a few of the most iconic locations on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Linn Cove Viaduct snakes across the facet of Grandfather Mountain. Linville Falls crashes into the underside of a gorge far under a number of scenic overlooks. Mount Mitchell is the very best level east of the Mississippi River. The Mount Pisgah space features a climbing path to the mountain’s summit, a lodge on the sting of the mountain ridge, and a campground.

READ MORE: Highway Journey on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Alongside the best way, take detours off the Parkway to discover the gateway cities. In Blowing Rock, keep at a lodge on the town and stroll to dinner and procuring. Boone is busier, however you’ll discover a number of native eating and antiquing if you happen to go to mid-week. Asheville is a mountain haven identified for his or her craft beer and world-class delicacies. In Brevard, seize a espresso and luxuriate in a savory meal. Lastly, Cherokee is house to the eye-opening Museum of the Cherokee Indian and entertaining Unto These Hills Outside Drama.

Sundown view on the Turkey Creek Overlook.

No. 02

Cherohala Skyway

51 miles | 1 day

The Cherohala Skyway is among the most scenic drives within the state – and one of the distant. The 51-mile route begins in Robbinsville, about two hours from Asheville. Just like the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Cherohala Skyway is a two-lane street with scenic overlooks, climbing trails, and sights.

At 5,390-feet, the Santeetlah Overlook is the very best level on the Cherohala Skyway, however the Huge Junction Overlook presents probably the greatest views. The Mudd Hole parking space permits day hikers to entry the 300-mile Benton MacKaye Path – a 3.3-mile hike results in Whigg Meadow. The Turkey Creek Overlook is one of the best overlook on the Skyway, with a jaw-dropping view throughout sundown.

READ MORE: Highway Journey on the Cherohala Skyway From Tennessee to North Carolina

Indian Boundary Lake Recreation Space is a peaceable bastion for a weekend getaway within the mountains. A seashore is the proper place to swim within the lake, however you may also discover with kayaks or canoes. An 87-site campground is unfold round three loops in a dense forest inside strolling distance of the lake.

Bald River Falls is a pleasing shock on the Cherohala Skyway. The 100-foot-tall waterfall is a couple of miles from the Skyway on an unmarked two-lane street. Guests can view the beautiful waterfall from a bridge close to the bottom of the falls, the place mist from the churning water covers the whole lot – and everybody.

On the Cradle of Forestry in America, discover a one-room faculty and 1914 locomotive on the climbing trails.

No. 03

Forest Heritage Scenic Byway

68 miles | 1-2 days

The 68-mile Forest Heritage Scenic Byway loops by way of Pisgah Nationwide Forest, starting and ending close to Brevard. The nationwide forest was established in 1916 after Edith Vanderbilt bought over 86,000 acres of the Biltmore Property to the federal authorities.

The loop contains the scenic route alongside US Freeway 276 previous Trying Glass Falls, Sliding Rock, and the Cradle of Forestry in America, the place guests can discover the origins of the primary forestry faculty within the nation. On NC Freeway 215, discover small waterfalls like Sunburst Falls. Go for brief detours on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Mount Pisgah and Devils Courthouse for breathtaking overlooks and climbing trails.

Spend a day in Waynesville, one of many gateway communities into the Nice Smoky Mountains Nationwide Park. Then, spend a day in Brevard, a hub for outside adventures in western North Carolina.

View from the path crossing Fontana Dam.

No. 04

Indian Lakes Scenic Byway

60 miles | 1 day

Deep within the western North Carolina mountains, the Indian Lakes Scenic Byway meanders alongside the shorelines of Fontana Lake, Cheoah Lake, and Santeetlah Lake. Boat leases are far and few in between, so deliver your individual kayak or canoe to get pleasure from these peaceable lakes.  Nevertheless it’s additionally doable to get pleasure from these lakes from the consolation of a collapsible chair at a lakeshore picnic space.

Stroll throughout the Fontana Dam, the very best dam in elevation east of the Rocky Mountains, alongside the Appalachian Path and relive a second captured in Invoice Bryson’s A Stroll within the Woods. Take a detour alongside the Tail of the Dragon – an notorious motorbike route that options 318 curves in 11 miles.

The Oak Island Lighthouse.
The Oak Island Lighthouse.

No. 05

Coastal Lighthouse Tour

300 miles | 4-7 days

Seven lighthouses stay alongside North Carolina’s coast, beaming brightly as beacons to the previous. If you happen to time the ferry crossings excellent, you can full this street journey in a scant two days – however what’s the enjoyable in that?

Climb the steps inside Previous Baldy Lighthouse, the oldest standing lighthouse in North Carolina, after taking a pedestrian-only ferry to Bald Head Island. At close by Oak Island Lighthouse, the one technique to climb to the highest is a collection of seven vertical ship’s ladders, so that you may wish to simply benefit from the view from the seashore boardwalk as a substitute.

The Cape Lookout Lighthouse is the one lighthouse to discover alongside North Carolina’s Crystal Coast. Accomplished in 1859, the 163-foot-tall lighthouse options an iconic black and white diamond sample. The lighthouse stands on Shackleford Banks, a part of the Cape Lookout Nationwide Seashore. Guests have to guide passage on a ferry to the island to discover the lighthouse and take a self-guided tour to the highest.

Go to 4 lighthouses alongside the Outer Banks between Ocracoke and Corolla. The Ocracoke Lighthouse, accomplished in 1823, is essentially the most distant within the state. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is among the most recognizable lighthouses alongside the East Coast. Accomplished in 1870, the 198-foot-tall lighthouse is the tallest brick lighthouse within the nation and the second tallest on this planet. The 156-foot-tall Bodie Island Gentle Station is the third to face on the identical property and was accomplished in 1872.

The Currituck Seashore Lighthouse is lower than two miles from the top of paved roads on the north finish of the Outer Banks in Corolla. Accomplished in 1875, the 162-foot-tall lighthouse remains to be open for guests to climb the 220 steps to the highest.

Did You Know? Carova is the northernmost seashore city in North Carolina. The one technique to get there’s a four-wheel drive automobile alongside 12 miles of the seashore after the paved roads finish in Corolla.

Trying Glass Falls might be considered from the facet of the street or from this vantage level on the backside of a staircase.
Trying Glass Falls might be considered from the facet of the street or from this vantage level on the backside of a staircase.

No. 06

North Carolina Waterfall Scenic Byway

140 miles | 2-3 days

The North Carolina Waterfall Scenic Byway is a 98-mile route between Murphy and Rosman. However including an additional 42 miles by way of Brevard and Pisgah Nationwide Forest features a dozen extra waterfalls – and a few of the greatest within the state.

The 140-mile route contains 25 waterfalls, most viewable from the automobile or after a brief stroll. Journey by way of the Cullasaja Gorge to go to Cullasaja Falls, Bust Your Butt Falls, and stroll behind Dry Falls. Take a brief detour to see Whitewater Falls, the tallest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. In DuPont State Recreation Forest, take brief hikes to see Excessive Falls, Triple Falls, and Hooker Falls. Lastly, go to Trying Glass Falls, one of the iconic waterfalls in North Carolina.

Alongside the best way, discover the charming small cities of Murphy, Franklin, Highlands, and Brevard. Find out about North Carolina’s mineral mining previous, get pleasure from boutique procuring, and pattern the savory native delicacies.

READ MORE: Highway Journey on the Scenic North Carolina Waterfall Byway

No. 07

Outer Banks Scenic Byway

144 miles | 3-5 days

The Outer Banks Scenic Byway is the proper technique to mix a street journey with a seashore trip. Stretching alongside 144 miles of two-lane roads, the scenic route contains over three hours on automobile ferries and moments of seeing water on each side of the street.

Start the drive in Beaufort and discover the Down East space of North Carolina. The Cedar Island Ferry to Ocracoke Village takes 2.5 hours, and on the midpoint, the land is nowhere in sight. Take one other half-hour ferry to Hatteras Island to start a journey of island hopping by way of Rodanthe, Nags Head, Kitty Hawk, and Kill Satan Hills.

Discover the charming seashore cities and large seashores. Delve into the historical past of Blackbeard and the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Uncover native procuring, eating, and sights. However most of all, really feel the salty air blowing by way of your hair with open home windows and nothing however solar overhead.

No. 08

Pamlico Scenic Byway

127 miles | 1-2 days

Pamlico Sound is the most important lagoon on the East Coast, stretching 80 miles from Washington to the Outer Banks. The Pamlico Scenic Byway follows the route of US Freeway 264 from Manns Harbor alongside the lagoon’s coast to Washington.

Discover early colonial historical past, benefit from the recreation in Alligator River Nationwide Wildlife Refuge and Mattamuskeet Nationwide Wildlife Refuge, and take within the surroundings alongside the peaceable freeway by way of small communities, farms, and riverways.

Wilmington is an thrilling place to start or finish a street journey throughout North Carolina
Wilmington is an thrilling place to start or finish a street journey throughout North Carolina

No. 09

US Freeway 17

228 miles | 3-5 days

As soon as known as the King’s Freeway, the route of US Freeway 17 was developed through the colonial period to attach the necessary port cities of Charleston and Boston. Immediately, the route connects inland cities and cities lower than an hour from a seashore at any given time.

Discover the burgeoning craft beer scene in Wilmington, or spend a night within the thriving downtown space. Take a guided tour of Tryon Palace, colonial North Carolina’s first capital. Benefit from the beautiful surroundings between Washington and South Mills on the Virginia border. Finish the journey with an journey at Nice Dismal Swamp Nationwide Wildlife Refuge.

Statesville is a beautiful place to go to with thrilling issues to do.

No. 10

US Freeway 21

110 miles | 3-5 days

A lot of US Freeway 21 parallels Interstate 77 by way of North Carolina, however you’ll miss a whole lot of adventures if you happen to keep on with the interstate freeway. In the course of the peak of the Nice American Highway Journey, the route was a part of the favored Nice Lakes to Florida Freeway.

In Sparta, the route crosses the Blue Ridge Parkway and into the Yadkin Valley wine area. In Statesville, discover the “Ballooning Capital of the East” with a sizzling air balloon journey, get a drink at Southern Distilling Firm, and end the day with one thing to eat at an area restaurant. Discover NASCAR heritage at museums and storage retailers in Mooresville, and you may go for a race on the GoPro Motorplex. Comply with the remainder of the route into Charlotte for a Panther’s soccer sport or discover one of many metropolis’s thrilling neighborhoods.

The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro is an thrilling place to go to throughout a street journey throughout the state.

No. 11

US Freeway 64

578 miles | 5-10 days

One in all two routes that cross all the state from the mountains to the seashore, US Freeway 64 begins in Murphy alongside the North Carolina Waterfall Scenic Byway. Discover native procuring, eating, and sights in Franklin, Highlands, Brevard, and Hendersonville. Go to Lake Lure, the well-known filming location of Soiled Dancing, and the long-lasting Chimney Rock.

Depart the mountains behind with a visit by way of Statesville, the “Ballooning Capital of the East.” Go to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro and take a detour to go to 100 potteries alongside the Pottery Freeway in Seagrove. Go to the state capital in Raleigh earlier than leaving the piedmont behind, touring into the coastal space. Finish the journey with a pleasing drive to Nags Head, the place you may discover the historical past of the Wright Brothers and watch the dawn throughout the ocean.

Take a guided boat tour of Lake Lure to benefit from the “Million Greenback View.”

No. 12

US Freeway 74

430 miles | 5-10 days

Starting in Murphy, US Freeway 74 crosses all the state in a wholly completely different route. Journey by way of the beautiful Nantahala Gorge into Bryson Metropolis, then proceed by way of the small mountain cities of Sylva and Waynesville. Spend a weekend in Asheville, a metropolis identified for the variety of craft breweries, world-class delicacies, and lovely mountain views. Journey by way of Lake Lure, Forest Metropolis, and Shelby to find nice native meals and sights on the best way into Charlotte.

Partially upgraded to interstate grade, the route alongside US Freeway 74 between Charlotte and Wilmington can go by within the blink of a watch. Cease in Rockingham to get one thing to eat and take a brief detour to Moores Creek Nationwide Battlefield. Arrive in Wilmington to pattern the seafood, craft beer, and native procuring within the vibrant downtown – or skip it totally in favor of some days in Carolina Seashore.

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