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  1. Default Southern Road Trip

    Hey guys, so it's time for another road trip, this time it's around two weeks long. My gf and I are planning to drive down to MS and LA towards the End of October/Early Nov.

    So our initial idea is to just hustle and get to the south ASAP. Will spend a night in Huntsville AL (I lived there for two years). Then we plan to hit the Natchez Trace Pkwy and spend a leisurely time driving down to the south. We will cross over into LA at the end of the pkwy and then maybe see New Orleans. Now, We will have around 1.5 weeks to do the pkwy and LA/MS. Given our usual interests (history, quirky stops, scenic drives and camping) what do the Gurus recommend that we see? Any must see places in New Orleans?

    I have already thought of visiting Vicksburg (Civil War). What are the good places in LA where can see the famous bayous and do some kayaking? All suggestions welcome!

  2. Default Southern Road Trip: Update

    hey guys, so I have changed my plans a bit. Instead of going all the way down to LA, we have now decided to restrict ourselves to NC and SC. It will make our drive more leisurely and we are at most a days drive from either state.

    So we will definitely do the Blue Ridge Parkway (I want to allocate around a week). This should give us plenty of time to enjoy the beauty of the fall colors. Once we are done with that, we can go over to SC and spend some time in that state. So what are the must see sites along the parkway and in either of the two states?


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Are you going to do the Skyline Drive too?

    I don't know about any "nature" stuff in SC, but Charleston is a great city. Myrtle Beach is too touristy in my opinion.

  4. #4

    Default Well, then, a place I know a little about

    Hello dinesh75, and "long time no correspond" one might say.

    The town of Mount Airy is some 30 minutes down off the mountain from the intersection of the BRP and I-77 at Fancy Gap, VA. Recalling your vegetarian diet, you will not likely be interested in a pork chop sandwich at Snappy Lunch, but Snappy Lunch is but one of a number of "Andy Griffith" and "Mayberry RFB" attractions in Mount Airy. Excepting some really cheesy attractions in and around Cherokee, Mount Airy is about the only quirky stop which comes to mind.

    You can check ahead with the NPS about the Doughton Park, Price Park, and Mount Pisgah campgrounds being open, but I rather suspect all 3 will be closed by Oct 31. If you're early enough, I can say with emphasis that Price Park, near Blowing Rock, NC, is a very nice campground. A pair of trails intersect in the CG itself, and they're interconnected with an entire network of footpaths and bridle trails (no mountain bikes) including the Moses Cone Memorial Park, Grandfather Mountain State Park, the Mountains-to-the-Sea Trail, and the BRP's own trail network. There are 25 miles of trails in Cone Park alone, laid out by Moses Cone as carriage trails, with rock retaining walls and gentle gradients. A popular guidebook is "Trails of the Blue Ridge Parkway" and if hiking is among your favored activities, I highly recommend it. The Cone Manor mansion house at Blowing Rock is now a center for demonstration and display and sale of mountain crafts while serving as a primary parking area the the Cone Park network of trails. I should emphasize both Cone Park and Price Park are sub-units of the NPS Blue Ridge Parkway, so it's all under Federal park system jurisdiction. The BRP's website offers a nice downloadable map of the entire BRP as well as links to selected major trail systems, including both Price and Cone.

    More really fine hiking is available at Linville Gorge, a bit farther down the BRP.

    At Spruce Pine, you may be interested in the Museum of NC Minerals. There are some very nice displays there. Only 15 minutes out the other side of town from the BRP is the Penland School of Crafts, a widely-heralded center for craft teaching and study, and their gallery alone is reason for a visit.

    If you luck out on a clear day, you must take the short side-trip up to the top of Mount Mitchell. The Black Mountains, including Mitchell, have the greatest amount of "prominence", a term used to describe topographic relief. Mitchell is nearly 7,000' above sea level, and the river valleys at its base are just over 2,000' in elevation. You won't see such prominence short of going out West. A clear day will provide +75 mile views.

    You previous plan included paddling. You may find outfitters still running the New River, the Nolichucky, the Nantahala, the Chattooga, and/or the Ocoee, but those operations generally shut down around November 1. The Nantahala Outdoor Center is the premier outfitter in the region, and I've run all 4 rivers with the NOC, with all but the Nantahala run from outposts at the other rivers themselves. Each can be run in either a raft or a one-man inflatable kayak (aka duckie or funyak), depending on water level the day of the flat. One advantage of choosing the Nantahala River to run is that it's a short run (half-day), it's loads of fun in a duckie, it's not technical (Class I and II mostly, so fast and bumpy wave trains for the most part), wetsuits are provided, and most importantly of all, the take-out is at the NOC main headquarters at Wesser, NC, where hot showers await the returning paddlers. You may never enjoy a hot shower more than the one you take after a half-day in waters released from the 300' depths of the Nantahala Reservoir.

    For a completely enjoyable half-day cycling excursion, consider the Virginia Creeper Trail, running between Whitetop Station and Abingdon, VA, with Damascus at the midpoint. The VCT is all downhill on an old railroad grade from Whitetop to Damascus, and 4 or 5 outfitters offer bike rentals and shuttle service allowing you to park in Damascus, shuttle to Whitetop, and enjoy a 17 mile all-downhill ride back to town. Once again, some of the outfitters begin shutting down by early November, so check ahead. You'll find Damascus and the VCT to be about an hour's drive west of where the BRP passes Boone, NC.

    At Asheville, NC, the reputation is growing as a center for craft brewing and for including a cast of characters of all shapes and sizes, often referred to as the San Francisco of the East. Live music venues, brewpubs, vegan restaurants, and the whole spectrum of West Coast lifestyles can be enjoyed in Asheville. The French Broad River runs through town and the NOC runs the FB, too. There the take-out is Hot Springs, NC, where the only hot spring in the East is found. There are no natural pools, but the hot spring waters are piped into a series of outdoor jacuzzi-style hot tubs, each privacy screened on 3 sides, with the open side facing a stream, providing for au naturel soaking, reserved by the hour.

    Well south of the BRP, where NC and SC join, the area around Highlands, NC is known for waterfalls. In SC, the previously-mentioned Chattooga River forms the border between SC and GA and is where the movie "Deliverance" was filmed. The lowermost section of the 'Tooga features The Five Falls, a series of 5 Class IV and V rapids run by outfitters only in rafts, and only with guides in kayaks placing protection zones in and in between the drops. The Five Falls is as intense of a paddling experience as I've had outside of The Big Drop in Cataract Canyon, UT.

    Enjoy your late Fall trip to the Blue Ridge, the Blacks, and the Smokies! You'll miss the "peak" of the Fall colors, but you'll miss the hordes of leaf-peepers, too.


  5. Default

    Foy, thank you so much for your excellent suggestions. I am writing all those down and will start calling to see who might be open at that time.

    It just to happened that our trip has slipped by two weeks. So we will be doing that in the 2nd-3rd week of November. I am guessing we will be well past peak of the colors and most of the attractions might be closed.

  6. #6

    Default Colors gone, some attractions, too


    While color is both latitude and elevation sensitive, by the end of October or earliest November, all will likely be gone from most anywhere on the BRP. My wife is near Blowing Rock at 4,000' as I type this, and she says it's about peak right now up that high, but still has a week or so to go down in town at 3,000'.

    From my own investigations of 3 years ago, paddling where I mentioned it will be over with by 10/31.

    My favored bike/shuttle shop in Damascus, VA closes 10/31, but I think others run weekends, at least, weather permitting.

    I fully expect all of the BRP campgrounds will be closed by 3rd week of October, or end of October at least. Some investigation will prove/disprove. Some of the National Forest campgrounds much lower, like Backbone Rock, near Damascus, close 10/15.

    The BRP itself, and the many trails alongside, will remain open until snow closes the BRP itself, unlikely in November and even in mid-winter the closures are intermittent except in the very highest elevations either side of Asheville, where closure can run days to weeks on end.

    A November trip down that way will avoid the sometimes maddening October crowds, and while it would (obviously) be somewhat colder, on average, it's still entirely possible to catch some bluebird weather.


  7. #7


    My alma mater, Appalachian State University, has posted this link to predicted Fall Color Peak weekends:

    With an understanding of where the higher elevations are (like along the BRP all the way from the VA-NC line to the Smokies), you'll see the peak colors are over with at the very top, but the roughly 3,000' range peaks right now.


  8. Default

    If you are still going to be on the BRP about mile 57 Off of US278 a very twisty road approx 15mi is Looking Glass Falls. 60 ft lots of water very easy to get to.
    The Biltmore Estate at Asheville NC is decorated for Christmas starting Nov 9th.
    Dixie Stampede will have its Christmas show going on and Pigeon forge will have its
    Christmas lights on. If you drop down into North Ga, Mountain City has a Foxfire museum of early mountain people must see.
    US23 Country Music Hwy is a nice color route South to North from about Kingsport NC to Paintsville Ky with a Country Music museum around Paintsville Ky

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Welcome !

    Hi Kenddoss and welcome to the RTA forums !

    Thanks for jumping in and offering advise to others on your first ever post, very nice of you !

    Hope you enjoy RTA.


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