Welcome to the ultimate Western North Carolina fall trip, featuring a full week away in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by way of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This trip is filled with breathtaking mountain vistas ablaze with fiery fall foliage. You’ll also see beautiful, tranquil towns tucked between the rolling countryside. Our 1 week itinerary Great Smoky Mountains is sure to make this one adventure you will never forget!
Sunday Night – Day 1 of the 1 week itinerary Great Smoky Mountains
Before you set off on your first excursion, let’s make sure you’re set up with the best digs on your 1 week itinerary Great Smoky Mountains start.
If you fancy all-inclusive, mile-high mountain hideaways, check in to The Swag in Waynesville, where you can choose from a selection of private cabins or suites within The Swag’s main lodge.
For those who want to nestle into the mountainside, Glamping Collective offers Luxury Domes that feature hot tubs, fire tables, and the best mountain views in Clyde.
Once you feel acclimated with your accommodations make your way to Waterrock Knob for the exquisite sunset that tucks behind the mountaintops.
Tonight, head into the charming town of Waynesville for a stroll down Main Street before you dive into the traditional victuals and libations (dinner and drinks) of The Scotsman Public House.
Lastly, enjoy the starlit drive back to tonight’s home base and prepare for the wonders that await you tomorrow.
Monday – Your First Day In The Smokies
Wake up ready to drive! Today’s first stop is for a homestyle breakfast at the Buttered Biscuit in Waynesville.
We’re going to do a large circle of driving today, so while in town, grab a picnic for lunch and plenty of water. Or, if you are staying at The Swag, look into their “Packed Lunch” offerings which include marked trail maps. Lots of scenic views, short hikes, and stunning waterfalls coming your way!
The Ridge Parkway Waynesville To Cherokee
From Waynesville, head southeast on 276 to Brevard for the first must-see waterfalls: Looking Glass Falls and Moore Cove Falls.
We’re back on the Parkway for the grand tour! Here you can see Skinny Dip Falls, Devils Courthouse, Graveyard Fields, Black Balsam Knob, Cowee Mountain Overlook, Richland Balsam, and Waynesville Overlook— just an epic drive all around!
End the day at The Swag’s dining room for social hour and a delightful four-course dinner featuring seasonally inspired dished and locally sourced ingredients.
Tuesday – Day 3 of the 1 week itinerary Great Smoky Mountains
Time to get up early, grab your bags, and get started on your first day on the Parkway.
See The Elk
Head straight to Cataloochee Valley for your chance to see the wild elk. They graze very early in the morning, but it is worth every second of sacrificed sleep. This is a standout activity for everyone’s 1 week itinerary Great Smoky Mountains.
Grab breakfast afterward at Joey’s Pancake House in Maggie Valley, and make sure to map out your upcoming stops for the day.
Head out towards Cherokee, stopping first to visit Soco Falls. Then it’s time to hop on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here you can enjoy the short but beautiful drive to your next destinations.
Along this stretch, you can take your pick from incredible pit-stops such as Plott Balsam Overlook, Big Witch Overlook, and Thomas Divide Overlook. No matter how ambitious you are, take your time and enjoy the colors that fill the forested mountainsides.
Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
Make your way through Cherokee to Bryson City. Then experience a once-in-a-lifetime adventure: The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
This is the premier fall foliage train ride as the 4 ½-hour roundtrip excursion carries you 44 miles through the lush Nantahala Gorge. There is a layover stop at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Boxed lunch and onboard dining are available, so you can just focus on your train ride full of fall photo opportunities.
Still looking for more? Explore Deep Creek—a beautiful fly fishing river. While there see Juney Whank, Tom Branch, or Indian Creek waterfalls. This is a top pick for us on our 1 week itinerary Great Smoky Mountains!
After your chock-full Tuesday, check in to the cozy Calhoun House Inn, conveniently located only a short stroll from downtown Bryson City’s shops, galleries, breweries, and restaurants.
Saunter over to Fontana Overlook for a wonderful evening sunset before finally turning in for the evening.