Thanks to Darren W. Miller of the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority for providing this most helpful information.
Foliage.org: What are the projected dates Waynesville, North Carolina peak foliage seasons?
Leaves have already begun to change in some spots. Based on some
expert predictions, we expect to have an extended and extremely
colorful fall foliage season, from late September through early
Novermber, likely peaking in many places—though variable depending on
elevation, weather, and type of trees—in mid-October.
Foliage.org: What are the local and regional roads or highways that are favorite scenic routes for Fall tourists?
Lake Junaluska, surrounded by rolling hills and mountain peaks, is
always a good spot to do a bit of leaf-looking, as the colors reflect
off the water’s surface. Richland-Balsam Gap Overlook—between
Waynesville and Canton—is the highest point on the entire 469-mile
Blue Ridge Parkway and offers some spectacular panoramas of ridges,
valleys and peaks as far as the eye can see. The 46-mile stretch of
the Blue Ridge Parkway that runs through Haywood County, with four
convenient entrance/exit points, offers 19 other overlooks that are
all postcard-worthy, so have your cameras ready. Be sure to stop at
the Cold Mountain Overlook and catch a glimpse of the now-famous peak
that served as the setting for the best-selling book and blockbuster
Foliage.org: Are there historic or cultural sites that are popular
destinations for Fall foliage travelers? What are they?
As mentioned above, the 46 miles of Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County, with its slow pace, overlooks and endless vistas, is always a popular drive during the fall, as the mountains are ablaze with color. U.S. 19 through Maggie Valley is decorated each year in celebration of the season. U.S. 276 South, from Waynesville through Cruso, is a country road that eventually winds its way to the Parkway through canopies of color. N.C. 215, from Canton to the Parkway by way of Lake Logan, is equally beautiful. U.S. 441 through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, accessible from U.S. 19 via Maggie Valley and Cherokee, is an excellent day trip lined with adventurous possibilities. N.C. 209 curves its way through the Crabtree and Iron Duff communities to Fines Creek and Max Patch, a high-elevation bald
that has views definitely worth the hike.
Foliage.org: What festivals or other public events are taking place During the 2009 Fall foliage season?
October 2: Art After Dark (Waynesville)
October 10: 26th Annual Church Street Arts & Crafts Show (Waynesville)
October 17: 21st Annual Apple Harvest Festival (Waynesville)
October 17-18: Maggie Valley Fall Arts & Crafts Festival (Maggie Valley)
October 23-25: Annual World Championship of Clogging (Maggie Valley)
Foliage.org: Are there historic or cultural sites that are popular destinations for Fall foliage travelers? What are they?
Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts at the Shelton House: The Shelton
House was built in 1875 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Housed in and around the Shelton House, the Museum of North Carolina Handicrafts features comprehensive exhibits of 19th century crafts including hand-woven coverlets, quilts, sculptured porcelain, dulcimers, masterpieces of pottery work and furniture and a fine collection of southeastern and southwestern Native American artifacts.
Shook Museum at the Shook-Smathers House: Some time around 1795, Jacob
Shook built a three-story cabin now known as the Shook-Smathers House
in Clyde. Many claim that it is the oldest standing frame-built house in Western North Carolina. The Shook House hosted regular worship services and singing and music lessons in the third-floor attic before a church was built nearby. The cabin hosted the traveling Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury, a major influence on the region and spreader of Methodism.
Canton Area Historical Museum: The Canton Area Historical Museum
serves as a community educational resource for scholars, students and visitors preserving and interpreting the unique history of Canton and
its surrounding communities. The museum was dedicated on Labor Day
1990 and is located on Park Street in the former Canton Branch Library.
Foliage.org: What are some other popular tourist attractions for autumn travelers to Waynesville. What are some of the less well known, but much loved local attractions?
A large portion of the eastern section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2009, is located within Haywood County. Accessible from Cove Creek Road (take I-40 to exit 20), Cataloochee Valley is one of the most remote and most beautiful areas of the park, and a unique place to explore both the natural and cultural history of the Smokies. Once a populous settlement and mountain community, Cataloochee Valley is perhaps now best known for elk, which were reintroduced in the valley in 2001 after disappearing from North Carolina in the late 1700s as a result of over-hunting and loss of habitat. Early morning and late evening areregarded as the best times for viewing the elk (usually as they graze along the roads and in the meadows). Other wildlife, including black bear, white-tailed deer and wild turkeys, also roam the area. Cataloochee Valley is rich in history; with original homesteads still standing (tour a school, churches, a barn, and several homes), learn what life was like for early settlers of the area. There’s also plenty of hiking, camping and fishing to be had here, so make sure a trip to Cataloochee Valley is on your itinerary whil visiting Haywood County. And this is arguably one of the best spots to soak up the fall color.
Foliage.org: Are there favorite destinations for history, literature, architecture buffs, or antique collectors? What are they?
Get lost on some of the county’s backroads and check out numerous historic barns visible from the roadside. In downtown Waynesville, book-lovers could find themselves lost amongst the shelves of two independent bookstores—Osondu Booksellers and Blue Ridge Books and News —as they browse regional and local titles and tales. Downtown Waynesville and the Frog Level District boasts many art galleries, featuring everything from mountain crafts to modern art. In Waynesville, Maggie Valley, Canton and the Balsam area, antique hunters are sure to unearth many treasures at a variety of shops.
Foliage.org: What are some favorite destinations or activities of families traveling during the Fall travel season?
Graveyard Fields, located on the Blue Ride Parkway, offers a family- friendly hike down to a set of roaring waterfalls, all while surrounding by mountains of color. Ghost Town in the Sky in Maggie Valley is a wild-west theme park that the young (and the young at heart) will all enjoy. The chairlift ride to the mountaintop park offers stunning views of the valley below.
Foliage.org: What are some helpful resources for discovering local inns, bed and breakfasts, lodges, boutique hotels, and other local lodging and dining?
Log on to www.smokeymountains.net and click the “Where to Stay” link
to browse the 200-plus accommodations throughout Haywood County. Search by location, type or amenities. With such a variety, you’re sure to find one that fits your budget and meets your needs. The “Where to Eat” link will serve up some delicious cuisine choices, from traditional Southern homestyle cooking to fine dining.
Foliage.org: Is there anything else you would like to tell visitors thinking about traveling Waynesville for the fall foliage season?
Surrounded by a landscape wrinkled by majestic mountain ridges, vast
valleys and soaring peaks covered in a variety of trees, all displaying a wide range of bright and rustic color, there is no better place and no better way to soak up the beauty of the fall season. More than a dozen of Haywood County’s mountain peaks soar to elevations of at least 6,000 feet (more than any east of the Mississippi River), and the county is one of the highest, with a mean elevation of 3,600 feet, east of the Rockies. The county sits at the western edge of North Carolina, with the Blue Ridge Parkway running along its southwestern border. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Pisgah National Forest are located in the northern section of the county.
Be sure to check in with us on our Facebook (http://companies.to/smokymountainsnc ) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/smokymountainnc) for updates about fall color and where the best spots are at the moment to do some leaf- looking.
If you visit us and have any questions or need more information, stop by our visitor centers: one is located in Canton at exit 31 off I-40; the other is located on U.S. 23/74 outside of Waynesville near Balsam.