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.

Total eclipse of the heart (of America): where to see the 2017 solar eclipse

Total eclipse of the heart (of America): where to see the 2017 solar eclipse

Most visitors who trek through the vast interior of the USA are in search of natural wonders on the ground. But on August 21, 2017, they’ll be in search of a…

24 Nov 2016 • AnneLise Sorensen insert_drive_file Article
A Las Vegas survival guide: the dos and don’ts of Sin City

A Las Vegas survival guide: the dos and don’ts of Sin City

Few destinations can match the unbridled hedonism of Las Vegas. Nevada’s pulsating desert city, a tangle of neon-lit casinos and roaring freeways, is one of t…

16 Nov 2016 • Eleanor Aldridge insert_drive_file Article
The dos and don'ts of Thanksgiving travel

The dos and don'ts of Thanksgiving travel

The only thing more challenging than an interminable turkey meal with a squabbling family? Getting there in the first place. Thanksgiving may kick off the mo…

11 Nov 2016 • AnneLise Sorensen 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