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Blue Ridge/Smoky Mountains - Need Help

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My husband and I are planning a driving trip in October roughly along the Appalachian Trail from Gettysburg, PA to the Smoky Mountains. The planned route actually starts in New Jersey (visiting our daughter) then to Gettysburg, south through Maryland, W. Virginia (Harpers Ferry, Charles Town), Virginia (Blue Ridge Parkway with stops at Front Royal, Charlottesville), North Carolina along the Parkway ending in the Smoky Mountains. We would fly home (to Minnesota from Asheville). The plan is to take about a week to do this drive. We are in our late 50s and will be doing a lot of driving with light hiking and/or biking.

My questions are: 1) I expect the area to be crowded during October but I have read on this forum that the crowds might be extreme (ex. bumper to bumper, 5-mile per hour on the Blue Ridge Parkway). Is this true? If true, we might choose a different time to see this area. Or, hopefully, you have some tips to avoid the worst of the crowds (different places to stay, different roads, days or times to travel)?
2) We could really use some recommendations for B&Bs or inns along the way. I have had great advice from this forum in the past. So, thanks for your help!

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