The best way to see the mountains of North Carolina is from the exhilarating Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs across the northwest of the state from Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s a delight to drive; the vast panoramic expanses of forested hillside, with barely a settlement in sight, may astonish travellers fresh from the crowded centres of the east coast. This rural region has been a breeding ground since the early twentieth century for bluegrass music, which is still performed regularly; laidback, liberal Asheville is a good place to see the edgier stylings of “newgrass”.

The peak tourist season for the Blue Ridge Parkway is October, when the leaves of the deciduous trees turn vivid shades of yellow, gold and red. Year-round, however, this twisting mountain road – largely built in the 1930s by President Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps – is a worthwhile destination in itself, peppered with state-run campgrounds, short hiking trails and dramatic overlooks. Although the Parkway is closed to commercial vehicles, the constant curves make it hard to average anything approaching the 45mph speed limit.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

15 of the most beautiful places in Alaska

15 of the most beautiful places in Alaska

With mountains to climb, rivers to raft, glaciers to coo over and a bevy of bears to photograph, Alaska is the ultimate wilderness. From the moment you arrive, …

18 Jan 2017 • Sarah Reid camera_alt Gallery
8 ideas for cheap vacations in the US

8 ideas for cheap vacations in the US

Only a few of us can take a vacation that includes a private jet and a 15-course chef’s tasting menu at a top restaurant. For the rest of us, we have to make …

17 Jan 2017 • Jason Frye insert_drive_file Article
Why Atlanta is one of the top 10 cities you should visit in 2017

Why Atlanta is one of the top 10 cities you should visit in 2017

Georgia’s leafy capital is due its time in the spotlight. Dynamic, progressive and home to one of the country’s most exciting food scenes, Atlanta is the ne…

11 Jan 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month