Southern Road Trip: Blue Ridge Parkway
If you ever get the chance to drive through West Virginia or the western portion of North Carolina, please take the extra time to use Blue Ridge Parkway. There are stops and overlooks nearly every mile that point out what you’re seeing in the distance. Sometimes you can only see right in front of you when the clouds are heavy and top the mountains in a good chunk of white. It’s on those days where you’ll feel like you’re walking out into the clouds as you descend into the trees or like you’re being lifted up into them as they envelop the car’s windows. Other days, when the sun is out in full force and the clouds have been burned away, you can see for miles and miles from your edge-of-the-mountain-stance to where the tops of other mountains poke at the horizon and leave deep blue indentations in its face. (more…)
Southern Road Trip: Nantahala National Forest
We drove south through Great Smoky Mountain National Park, tree-covered paths and winding yellow-dashed roads stretching before us. Our plan was to reach the numerous waterfalls located in Nantahala National Forest by mid-afternoon with ample time for stops at Nantahala Lake, rocky creek beds, and overlooks along the way. Wayah Road, a narrow, two-lane curvaceous thing, was the quickest route between the sites we knew we wanted to see that also wound through small communities and nature reserves. The road weaves through tiny towns that look a lot more like settlements and along rivers and streams that catapult water over flattened but jagged-edged rocks before coming to the lake. (more…)
Southern Road Trip: The Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains are a must-see if you’re traveling through the South by car. You could take the interstate straight through them and cut hours off of your route – but I wouldn’t. You’d miss out on the luscious greenery, the wet rocks, the rushing creeks, the bear sightings, and the ear-pounding waterfalls.
The winding roads and interlocking trails that access all of the waterfalls and rock formations can easily add an afternoon, or even a day, to your trip. Many of the trails are two to five miles long (though due to their extensive connections, they can be made much longer) and range from easy to difficult with most of them falling somewhere in-between. Bring a lunch, a water bottle, a first-aid kit, and your most comfortable hiking shoes for an afternoon outside the confines of your car.
Grotto Falls is the most likely destination if you’re looking to do a quick hike, see a waterfall, and get back on the road. To get to Grotto Falls: (more…)