Wondering where to see the best areas for fall in North Carolina? It’s a mystery no more! Fall in North Carolina is a top experience people flock to the state for. Vivid colors line roads and highlight the Appalachian Mountains, providing bright sights for all ages. Oranges, yellows, and reds are scattered across the mountain range, making up a unique view. Along the roads, you can also find many spots to hike and find fantastic waterfalls hidden in the forests. The bright foliage rivals any, making North Carolina a top spot in the fall.
The Appalachian Mountains host a variety of locations that are the best for fall in North Carolina. Laying in western North Carolina, the Appalachian Mountains have a long history, from old folktales to the filming location of the popular “The Hunger Games” series. While exploring the forests, you can also hike, shop, or try out a variety of local breweries! This is something everyone should experience, and below, we list the ten best places to experience fall in North Carolina.
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10 Best Places to Experience Fall in North Carolina
1. Grandfather Mountain
Known for its amazing landscape, Grandfather Mountain is a must-see on your trip to experience fall in North Carolina. It is the highest peak in the Blue Ridge mountain range, which stretches from Pennsylvania to Georgia.
When the weather is right, and humidity is down, it’s possible to see the skyline of Charlotte, North Carolina, which is 100 miles away. The mountain is also known for the mile-high bridge that swings in the wind, connecting the two peaks. Grandfather Mountain also has reported wind speeds up to 200 mph (320 km/h), making the journey across the bridge an adventure in itself.
Grandfather Mountain offers some of the most challenging hiking trails in the South. You can gain access to these trails from the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway or NC 105. Grandfather Mountain is located outside of Linville, North Carolina, a quaint town that has a variety of other attractions, such as country and golf clubs, as well as a historic district.
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2. Linville Falls
Linville Falls is a gorgeous waterfall with easy access from the Blue Ridge Parkway. It might be the most popular waterfall in North Carolina during the fall due to this. There are five lookouts, offering unique views of the four levels of the waterfall as it hurries into Lake James. Each access point has different levels of difficulty with hiking. We suggest you spend a full day here if you plan to hike to all five access points. After you finish hiking, you can admire the views from the nearby Linn Cove viaduct.
The name is a bit deceiving because it’s about a seventeen minute drive away from the town of Linville, and about 31 minutes away from Grandfather mountain. Linville Falls has a long history, once a seasonal location of the Cherokee people. They named it a fitting name, “River of Cliffs”. Venture out to enjoy the fresh air while you hike, a special thing only found in the fall in North Carolina.
3. Lynn Cove Viaduct
Just along Grandfather Mountain, there is the Lynn Cove Viaduct. Since the Lynn Cove Viaduct is in a national park, the nearest village is outside of the park, aptly called Linville. This Viaduct was opened in 1987 to the public.
Seen on everything from postcards to It hosts Tanawha Trail, which is only for hiking, but has some asphalt walking areas. The trail is known for its photogenicity, offering some of the most famous and popular views on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The wide variety of trees means a wide array of different colors, which is a feast for the eyes. It’s one of the only hiking trails that is wheelchair accessible, making it an easy climb for all ages.
Since it’s a popular spot, we recommend coming in the morning, when the air is crisp and less people are there! Seen on everything from postcards to car commercials, a visit to Lynn Cove Viaduct in the fall of North Carolina is a stop worth making.
4. Blowing Rock
The name Blowing Rock comes from the winds that float light objects upward, giving this scenic view a magical touch. Blowing Rock stands proudly against the gorge, allowing tourists to have unobstructed views of the Blue Ridge mountains around them. It’s often noted to be North Carolina’s oldest tourist attraction.
The village that lays at its feet is also called Blowing Rock. Its website calls a quaint storybook mountain village, and we couldn’t agree more. It’s a quiet town which gifts tourists with a unique shopping experience. Many shops sell products from locals, or provide places for a meal. Along with the beautiful leaves, this makes it a perfect visit in the fall in North Carolina.
5. Brevard and the Pisgah Forest
Brevard is a small town that is nestled within the Pisgah Forest. Many people are surprised to learn that Pisgah Forest is a rainforest, so be prepared for cozy days amongst the changing leaves. Brevard is known for its stunning environment, from the softly rolling hills of downtown, edged with quaint houses, to the large mountains with stunning waterfalls around it.
The Pisgah National Forest is home to many of the Blue Ridge’s stunning waterfalls. “Pisgah” is cited sometimes as the Hebrew word for “mountain.” The most popular waterfall is the Sliding Rock waterfall. After a short hike, you can get to the top of this waterfall, and slide down it, letting the icy waters carry you down.
This is a perfect spot in the summer, but we recommend stopping along the way in the fall. Another stunning waterfall is Looking Glass Falls. Here, you can park along the road, and take pictures of the waterfall. It’s framed by cliffs, and leads to a shallow pond that you can climb down to. Other waterfalls are Rainbow Falls, Turtleback Falls, Slick Rock Falls, Roaring Fork Falls, and six others!
This national forest is the perfect place to experience fall in North Carolina, allowing you to take in the beauty of the changing leaves around you, and the gorgeous waterfalls.
6. Banner Elk
Want to find a quaint, small southern community to experience fall in North Carolina? Banner Elk is definitely the place for you. Banner Elk prides itself on being the “Center of The High Country” in North Carolina. Known for its skiing opportunities, this small town lays between Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain.
Here, you can ski, snowboard and ice skate! There are only around 1,000 permanent residents, not including the 700 undergrad students of the local college. Near Banner Elk, in Valle Crucis, there is the original Mast General Store, which is a must do for anyone visiting the mountains of North Carolina. We highly recommend it, because it highlights the “old ways”, and still has relics of the past.
In October, you can go to the Woolly Worm Festival. It’s a tradition similar to Groundhog Day, in which the citizens of Banner Elk use the woolly bear caterpillar to predict the winter forecast. This is a unique opportunity to experience a unique heritage of fall in North Carolina.
Named after the adventurous Daniel Boone, Boone, North Carolina is a place where you can bring out your southern side. Home to Appalachian State University, Boone is a center for bluegrass, in which you can bring the feeling of the mountains to your ears.
Boone has many brewing companies, which is a trend that is taking over many North Carolina towns. Tap into a barrel of beer, or tap into nature during the fall in Boone, North Carolina. There are many local hiking trails that lead to waterfalls and native gardens.
If you’re feeling adventurous, like the town’s namesake, you can experience an adrenaline rush at Mountain View Speedway’s dirt racing track. Or, if you’d rather slow down, there are many unique boutiques or antique markers in the small town.
8. The DuPont Forest
The official name to this forest is the DuPont State Recreational Forest, but many call it the DuPont Forest. Its most popular attribute is being the filming location for The Hunger Games and The Last of the Mohicans. Since it’s a state forest, there aren’t any towns in it, but there is plenty to do.
In the fall, you can mountain bike, hike, kayak, go horseback riding, or if you’re brave enough, swim! There are remarkable views along these hiking trails, such as Stone Mountain and Cedar Rock. Lakes and waterfalls also dot the DuPont Forest, allowing you to experience calm, gentle waters, as well as powerful, rushing waters.
Some waterfalls are Triple Falls, which is the most popular, Bridal Veil Falls, Hooker Falls and High Falls. Triple Falls definitely earns its popularity, as there are three waterfalls staggered, as each flows into the next.
As you hike to see the Triple Falls, there are numerous outlooks, each framed by stunning trees, which will be a variety of colors when you visit during the fall in North Carolina. It’s easy to see why this forest was home to The Hunger Games’ District 12.
9. Lake Lure
The DuPont Forest isn’t the only filming location in the mountains of North Carolina. Known as the Crown Jewel of North Carolina, this town surrounds a man-made lake.
It’s been the filming location for Dirty Dancing, My Fellow Americans, Thunder Road, Firestarter, The Last of the Mohicans, and Careful What You Wish For. It’s a small resort town, where you can sit along the lakeside in Morse Park or Lake Lure Beach Park and enjoy the fall weather.
A whimsical garden lays in the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge, letting visitors walk amongst nature without having to climb up a mountain. Lake Lure also offers mountain trails for hiking and biking.
10. The Outer Banks
When you think of places to experience fall in North Carolina, many people think of the mountains. However, September to November is a perfect time to experience the Outer Banks, because the price drops and there aren’t as many tourists.
The weather is still warm and sunny, often around the 70s and 80s, but very mild compared to the blazing heat of summer. In the Outer Banks, you can find many lighthouses, like Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and the Bodie Island Lighthouse. For some, there is a peacefulness to the Outer Banks during the fall, and it’s a perfect option if you prefer the beach to the mountains.
Many festivals take place in the Outer Banks during the fall. While you’re there, the Annual Food Truck Showdown, the Seafood Festival, the Outer Banks Jeep Jam, Oink N’ Oyster Roast, and the Duck Jazz Festival, as well as the Outer Banks Parade of Homes are all occurring during the fall, leaving no option but to have fun!
These are the ten best places to experience fall in North Carolina. We hope you have an amazing time exploring these towns, waterfalls, and forests. Fall in North Carolina is definitely a unique experience. If you are considering taking a trip to North Carolina in the fall, we highly encourage you to take the jump and do it!