back to articles | August 31, 2023 | Moses Mwangi

Categories: Useful Automotive Information

12 Colorful Foliage Road Trip Destinations in North Carolina

With fall's vibrant colors, North Carolina has become a glorious destination. This is one of the most vibrant states in the United States during the fall.


North Carolina boasts over 200 types of trees, and you will have a breathtaking view of the trees transforming into vibrant colors during autumn. The season lasts about three months, with its peak being in November, thus giving you plenty of time to enjoy the stunning views the state offers. North Carolina has many state parks and forested areas providing plenty of foliage destinations. Here are some foliage road trip destinations you will enjoy exploring in North Carolina.

1. Blue Ridge Mountains

Your ultimate foliage road trip to North Carolina should take you to this must-see destination on the state's Western side. Blue Ridge Parkway is famous for the many varieties of trees it hosts, thus offering you the breathtaking mother nature view during autumn. The parkway runs about 250 miles from the Virginia border to Cherokee. However, foliage intensity varies with the type of weather conditions every year. So, grab your camera and explore the Blue Ridge Parkway.

2. The Grave Yard Fields

While exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will come across the Graveyard Fields. The foliage here is seen earlier, making it a perfect place to visit during your road trip. The field offers ideal hiking trails, usually very colorful during autumn. The hiking loop covers around 4 miles that you can cover within three hours. This place is famous for its clear foliage and spectacular waterfall views in North Carolina.

3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a perfect foliage road trip destination in North Carolina, with its peak being observed from mid-September through mid-November. The best thing is that this park is accessible to the public, thus making it an affordable destination for leaf-peeping.

You can enjoy the foliage season by hiking the mountains hosted in this park or climbing the Clingmans Dome, the highest place in the park if you are not much of a hiker. The climatic conditions in the park vary from time to time, and you might need to carry gear for the weather the place might offer.

4. Pisgah Inn

The Pisgah National Forest is accessible through the Blue Ridge Parkway. This historic inn boasts one of the best foliage views in North Carolina. It is situated at the top of Mount Pisgah at an altitude of 5000 feet, and it’s an ideal rod trip destination for picturesque foliage views.

You can enjoy leaf-peeping in Pisgah Inn by dining at its famous terrace views or by having a picnic with your friends and family for a more budget-friendly road trip. You must make your reservations early as this inn is almost fully booked during autumn.

5. Grand Father Mountain State Park

The Grandfather Mountain is an iconic foliage road trip destination in North Carolina as it is the tallest mountain in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The mountain spreads its glorious views during autumn, and for its height, it is one of the perfect places for you to visit during fall and get immersed in the brilliant colors. The mountain is popular with hikers, climbers, and nature geeks. To make your road trip to the mountain more adventurous, you can climb the Mile High Swinging Bridge for more brilliant foliage views.

6. Linville Falls

The vibrant fall colors that pop at Linville Falls make the place an ideal road trip destination. The area is popular among locals and tourists during the fall season. There are several overlooks at Linville Falls perfect for leaf-peeping. You can also hike Erwins View Trail, which is the most popular trail in the falls. The hiking trail is moderate and leads to the phenomenal Linville Gorge, which offers panoramic views during fall.

7. Mount Mitchell

One of the best foliage road trip destinations in North Carolina is Mount Mitchell State Park, which is accessible through the Blue Ridge Parkway Road. From the summit of Mt. Mitchell, you get an incredible view of the bold fall colors spreading across Pisgah National Forest. The free park has several hiking trails, picnic sites, camping grounds, and overlooks that provide memorable foliage views.

8. Blowing Rock

Blowing Rock is one of the charming and oldest foliage road trip destinations in North Carolina. It sits 4000 feet in altitude, thus offering spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains during fall. Blowing Rock is a pocket-friendly destination as it costs $9 per person. The entrance is usually found at the gift shop and gives you access to the fantastic hiking and nature trails and colorful gardens.

9. Little Switzerland

You will find this Alpine small town at milepost 334 along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Little Switzerland is a historic village pioneered in 1909 as a private resort. The village has a growing popularity during fall for its scenic views.

Blue Ridge Mountain surrounds the village, full of fresh air and vibrant colors during the fall season. The Switzerland Café also offers delicious meals that you would consider trying out.

10. Biltmore Estate

Your foliage road trip to North Carolina should not skip the Biltmore Walled Garden. This garden is fully transformed into lush colors during autumn. The landscaping team here does justice to the park by creating well-curated gardens and paths.

There are multiple trails in this garden that you can take to view the stunning orange mums and purple Salvia that fill up the place. The gardens are eye-catching, and you should consider making online reservations to get a lifetime experience of these incredible views.

11. Julian Price Lake

This land was formerly privately owned by Julian Price, and after his demise, it was donated by his family to the United States National Park Service and thus the naming in his honor. The lake and memorial park are along Blue Ridge Parkway at milepost 296. Julian Price Lake features impressive hiking trails, lakeside campgrounds, and fishing ponds. During autumn, the place becomes photogenic with dazzling golds, greens, and red colors reflecting in the massive waters.

With a valid license from North Carolina and Virginia, you can fish while viewing the eye-catching foliage. The lake is also open to kayaking, boat rowing, and paddling, making the foliage experience more exciting. You can get these services from local rental companies.

12. Banner Elk

Settled at 3700 feet altitude, Banner Elk is one of the popular leaf-peeping points in North Carolina. Here the foliage peak is generally in mid-October.

The indigenous hardwood trees surrounding Banner Elk give the place a vibrant splendor of colors. Banner Elk is close to Beech Mountains, thus making it a perfect destination for foliage. There are also a number of eateries within the place that you can visit for delicious cuisine.

Wrapping it up

North Carolina is the ultimate road trip destination for the majestic fall season. With the spectacular mountains, hiking trails, and gardens, you are assured of plenty of opportunities to catch the breathtaking views of the fall colors. These are just a few top foliage road trip destinations you should take advantage of when visiting North Carolina.

With that said, riding in your own car is the best way to brace yourself for North Carolina’s autumn beauty. Fortunately, with up to 4 offers for an auto loan, you can drive away your dream car for your road trip to North Carolina.