There is nothing like a road trip to understand and appreciate America’s beauty. For travelers, the Appalachian Mountains are a must-see part of the country. The Appalachian Mountains are located on the east side of the country and are the oldest mountain range in the United States. They go back billions of years and are home to diverse wildlife and ecosystems. Many people enjoy hiking on the Appalachian Trail to experience the beauty. Still, this mountain range has some of the most scenic drives a person could witness. We compiled a list of the 11 most stunningly scenic drives in the Appalachian Mountains. As you plan your next road trip, don’t forget to add these to your itinerary!
1. Skyline Drive, Virginia
If you’re driving through the Appalachian Mountains, prioritize a trip down Skyline Drive in Virginia. Running north and south along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive is 105 miles long. It is the only public road within the park, but it spans the park’s length entirely.
There are four access points along Skyline Drive with a required entrance fee. However, don’t let the fee scare you away. Skyline Drive has some of the most spectacular views of the Shenandoah Valley. With pull-offs and parking lots dispersed throughout the road, you will have the perfect opportunity to snap a photo of your journey.
2. Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia And North Carolina
Starting in Virginia and expanding through North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most scenic roads in the country. With 469 miles of road, drivers can drive the entire parkway or choose to journey through different sections.
The Blue Ridge Parkway allows travelers to drive through the Pisgah National Forest and see the gorgeous views of Mount Mitchell State Park. If you’re hoping for a diverse view of the Appalachian Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway provides the best opportunity.
3. The Road to Nowhere, North Carolina
Lakeview Drive, or the Road to Nowhere, is located near Bryson City, North Carolina. While the road is only six miles long, many people enjoy the views, the history, and the famous tunnel at the end.
The road leads six miles into Great Smoky Mountains National Park but stops unfinished at the tunnel opening visitors can walk through. The drive features views of Fontana Lake and numerous hiking trails to enjoy.
4. Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina And Tennessee
Completed in 1996, the Cherohala Skyway is a beautiful road with 360-degree views of the Appalachian Mountains. The road stretches 43 miles between Tellico Plains, TN, and Robbinsville, NC, and is known as a “best kept secret” to both locals and motorcyclists.
The drive features scenic views of the North Carolina mountains and lush green forests in Tennessee. If you drive the entire Cherohaha Skyway, you’ll venture through both the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests.
5. Kancamagus National Scenic Byway, New Hampshire
New Hampshire features the beautiful Kancamagus Highway throughout its section of the Appalachian Mountains. Spanning slightly below 35 miles, the scenic byway travels along Route 112 in northern New Hampshire and is a popular destination for travelers looking for autumn foliage.
Enjoy the drive through the White Mountain National Forest with stunning views of the mountains, rivers, and waterfalls. The Kancamagus Highway, often called “The Kank,” reaches its highest elevation point just below 3,000 feet.
6. Newfound Gap Road, Tennessee
If you’re traveling to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, take time to drive Newfound Gap Road. The road travels through the Blue Ridge Mountains and is beautiful throughout the year.
At 5,046 feet in elevation, this road is the lowest driveable pass in the park. The 33-mile drive takes drivers over the Great Smoky Mountains and ends in Gatlinburg, TN. Many drivers enjoy this road for the views and the potential to see wildlife like black bears.
7. Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway, North Carolina
Also known as Highway 215, the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway has 76 miles of beautiful mountain views. With an elevation range between 2,100 feet and 5,340 feet, you’ll experience numerous elements of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina.
Many travelers use this road to see Pisgah National Forest and stunning waterfalls like Looking Glass Falls. Many drivers enjoy exploring Asheville, NC, to experience the infamous arts and brewery culture within the city.
8. Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway, Georgia
Surrounded by the Chattahoochee National Forest, the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway is over 40 miles of Appalachian scenery. The popular road dips through valleys and up over the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia.
Drivers enjoy the scenic vistas from Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia at 4,784 feet above sea level. Waterfalls, wildlife, and scenic overlooks are accessible throughout the entire drive as well.
9. Route 100, Vermont
Driving through New England during autumn is a bucket list item for many travelers, especially during peak foliage. Stretching 216 miles, Route 100 is the ideal road to travel and enjoy the gorgeous views of New England.
Route 100 boasts beautiful views of waterfalls and lush forests as you drive through Green Mountain National Forest. Many history buffs enjoy stopping in the numerous towns along the way including Stowe, VT. At the end of the road, enjoy a tasty dessert from the Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury, VT.
10. Tail of the Dragon, North Carolina
The Tail of the Dragon, or US 129, is a dream road for any driver looking for a fun, yet scenic drive. Famous for its 318 curves in 11 miles, Tail of the Dragon is one of the best motorcycle and sports car roads in the country.
Surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains and Cherokee National Forest, the Tail of the Dragon isn’t the road to your destination — it is the destination. Motorists flock to this road during the spring, summer, and fall to conquer the tight, twisting turns and enjoy the views along the way.
11. Daughter of the Stars Loop, Virginia
Drive along the iconic Shenandoah River with the Daughter of the Stars Loop in Virginia. At 42 miles long, this drive starts in Front Royal, VA, and travels along the edge of Shenandoah National Park. Drivers enjoy the view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the river, and Virginia wildlife.
The Daughter of the Stars Loop is part of the Virginia Bird and Wildlife Trail (VBWT). Bird-watching enthusiasts use this road to view native birds like bald eagles.
Summary of the 11 Most Stunningly Scenic Drives in the Appalachian Mountains
|Blue Ridge Parkway
|Virginia and North Carolina
|The Road to Nowhere
|North Carolina And Tennessee
|Kancamagus National Scenic Byway
|Newfound Gap Road
|Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway
|Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway
|Tail of the Dragon
|Daughter of the Stars Loop
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Jon Bilous/Shutterstock.com
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