Best road trips in North Carolina

If you’re on the lookout for the street less traveled, you will uncover it in North Carolina. The surroundings across the point out ranges from rugged mountain vistas where by Daniel Boone the moment traveled to the sandy coast wherever wild horses roam. 

Though it is achievable to discover by bus or train, there’s practically nothing quite like navigating the state’s curving roadways from driving the wheel of a automobile. At 500 miles throughout, there is certainly plenty to check out, so give by yourself plenty of time to see the modifications in topography. From paths that abide by the mighty rivers to the ferries connecting barrier islands, listed here are our most loved North Carolina road excursions.

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Classic cars on Linn Cove Viaduct in fall, Blue Ridge Parkway Scenic Drive
The iconic Linn Cove Viaduct is a single of the most photographed places on the Blue Ridge Parkway © Matt Munro / Lonely World

Blue Ridge Parkway: finest road excursion for gradual travel

Cherokee to Cumberland Knob 175 miles, multi-day trek 

Effortlessly a person of the finest road excursions in western North Carolina, if not the country, the Blue Ridge Parkway winds 469 miles up through Virginia. It dates back again to 1933 when US Senator Harry Byrd suggested connecting Virginia’s Skyline Generate to the Good Smoky Mountains National Park.

Building began in 1935 and included several New Deal programs. The last piece, the legendary Linn Cove Viaduct, was completed in 1987.

The viaduct is a person of the most photographed spots on the parkway, but there’s so considerably far more to see. On the southern end, understand about the heritage of the Cherokee Country at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. 

Mt Mitchell, the highest peak in the point out, is appropriate off the parkway, together with Linville Falls, a person of the most famous waterfalls in the region. Moses Cone Memorial Park is a gorgeous property, now running as an arts centre.

The velocity limit is 45mph or significantly less for most of the multi-day journey, so choose your time and approach on halting often in the tiny cities close by, irrespective of whether for hikes or remaining the night. Keep in brain that weather conditions circumstances may perhaps guide to closures, and some attractions and visitors’ facilities are only open up from Might to Oct. 

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Close landscape of motorcyclists on the Cherohala Skyway at sunset with foliage in background. Taken under clear blue sky
Cherohala Skyway is a pleasant option if you never want to dedicate to the for a longer period Blue Ridge Parkway ©

Cherohala Skyway (US 143): very best street vacation for mountain vistas 

Beech Hole to Robbinsville approx. 30 miles, about two to three hours 

Opened in 1996, the 43-mile Cherohala Skyway travels in between Tennessee and North Carolina by Nantahala National Forest. Encompassing 531,148 acres, Nantahala is the most significant of the state’s four nationwide forests, with more than 600 miles of trails. 

This route, which reaches 2000ft to 4000ft above sea stage, is a pleasant alternative if you really do not want to commit to the for a longer time Blue Ridge Parkway. Give by yourself the entire day to detour.

The push follows the curves of the Benton MacKaye Trail, named for the conservationist, and there are shorter hikes you can choose from the trail. Cease at the overlooks for extraordinary sights of Lake Santeetlah.

If you want to insert to the drive, continue on US 129 and NC 28 to make the loop around Fontana Dam or head north into Tennessee for the circuitous Tail of the Dragon.

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Nantahala Byway (US 74): ideal road journey for out of doors adventurers 

Whittier to Marble 43 miles, about two hours 

An additional Western North Carolina gem is the Nantahala Byway, which weaves by the flooring of the Nantahala Gorge. Although US 74 carries on west into Tennessee, the best section is the stretch of interconnected creeks that move into the namesake river. 

Even though you could make the push in fewer than two hrs, this portion of the North Carolina Smokies begs for additional exploration. Guide an excursion with one of the quite a few river-rafting outfitters navigating the environment-class rapids if which is not ample experience, lots of also give cover and zipline excursions. 

Go to the southern shores of Fontana Lake or hike the path to Findley Falls, a person of many close by waterfalls. The Nantahala Gorge area has glamping solutions much too, which include yurts and converted school buses. 

A jeep drives down highway 12 on the Outer Banks, with dunes on one side
The Outer Financial institutions Scenic Byway contains lots of smaller sized interconnected roadways, together with Hwy NC 12 © Bryan Regan / Shutterstock

Outer Banking institutions Scenic Byway: finest road vacation for beachgoers

Nags Head to Otway approx. 140 miles, 5 hrs

Despite the identify, the Outer Banking institutions Scenic Byway comprises quite a few lesser interconnected roadways, such as US 64/264, US 158 and NC 12. The chain of slender barrier islands continues to the north, but the official byway only addresses a portion.

The journey will get at minimum five several hours from leading to bottom, including two ferries in between the islands. But together the way, vacationers are fulfilled with stretches of silent shorelines, historic lighthouses and seasonal campgrounds. 

For pirate lore and buried treasure, head to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum on Hatteras Island, filled with artifacts pulled from shipwrecks, such as Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge. Admission is cost-free, though donations are approved. 

Also situated on Hatteras is the Frisco Indigenous American Museum, which highlights Native society from all about the region by means of artwork, artifacts and handmade jewellery. There are also nature trails major to acres of maritime forest.    

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Diners raise a toast in the outdoor dining area at JOLO Winery & Vineyards
On this stretch of road in the Yadkin Valley, there are practically 50 wineries in overall – Jolo Winery is 1 of many to opt for from ©

Yadkin Valley (US 68): ideal road trip for wine lovers 

Content Valley to Pilot Mountain 78 miles, two hours 

The Yadkin Valley is established concerning the mountains of Western North Carolina and the cities of the Piedmont. This mixture of agricultural legacy and freshwater has developed prosperous soil perfect for growing grapes. The location is now aspect of an American Viticultural Area spanning seven counties. 

There are virtually 50 wineries in whole on this stretch of US 68, which can be driven (securely!) in two hrs. Or you can get your time, adhering to the Yadkin River and keeping at cozy inns together the way. Jolo Winery and Stardust Cellars are just two of the a lot of to pick out from. 

Even if wine is not your factor, this area has a lot to offer you. Wilkesboro is dwelling to the annual bluegrass festival Merlefest, and two moonshine distilleries, Copper Barrel Distillery and Connect with Household Distillers. Head about 25 miles west to Lenoir to love extra than 60 out of doors sculptures established on 1400 acres at the Western North Carolina Sculpture Park.