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Fall Foliage Road Trip in the Southeastern US

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Sep 13th, 2011, 09:04 AM
  #1
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Fall Foliage Road Trip in the Southeastern US

I've been on several road trips to Florida from Maryland in the spring and summer. However, I've never driven down the southeastern coast of the US during the autumn. As such, I've decided to do a fall foliage tour of the south eastern region this year on the way back from Florida to Maryland. I'll be leaving from Florida on Oct 25th. Time is not an issue (possibly 2 weeks). And as such, veering off I95 a little bit but very much is not an issue.

1. So far, I'm looking drive from the Smoky Mountains (Newfound Gap Road 33 mi) through Blue Ridge Mountains (Blue Ridge Parkway - 469 mi) and through Shenandoah National Park(Skyline Drive - 105 mi/3 hrs). I'm hoping that this route will take us from North Carolina all the way to VA.

2. Smoky Mountains - the park's best "smoky" views from Clingmans Dome, highest peak (6,600ft above sea level), which is a very difficult hike. One of the people traveling with us has a bad back, so we won't be able to do hard hikes. Are there any other spots that are really good for smoky views?

3. Blue Ridge Mountains - I read that the most scenic part is in the VA part of the Blue Ridge Mountains between Otter Creek and Roanoke Mountain, a 62-mile stretch that crosses the James River Gorge and climbs up Apple Orchard Mountain, the highest parkway point in Virginia. Does the Blue Ridge Parkway pass through this area? Are there any other spectacular foliage areas/drives?

4. Shenandoah National Park - I read that the most beautiful part is the Central District, between U.S. 211 at Thornton Gap and U.S. 33 at Swift Run Gap. Is the Skyline Drive close to the Central District? Are there any other spectacular foliage areas/drives?

5. I'm hoping I can get advice on where the most breath taking spots/routes are. We're not planning to spend the entire trip in a car so mini, non strenuous hikes are ok (just being careful about the hiking trail b/c of the member with the bad lower back). Also, if anyone knows of any great places to stop in other states like GA or South Carolina, please share!

6. I've also read that weekend traffic is terrible in all of the parks. Is the traffic as bad during the weekdays?

7. Also, would sleeping in a tent be too cold around that time?

Thank you!
Happenstance1201 is offline  
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Sep 13th, 2011, 11:24 AM
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You may want to re-think the dates. October is typically prime leaf-peeping time. As time approaches, you may want to check the State Park websites, but there is a good chance, you'll be 'late', since that seems to be the reason for your sojourn.
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Sep 13th, 2011, 12:49 PM
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Ok,thank you for the heads up. I'll be checking. If we do decide to do the foliage road trip on the way down to Florida, we're still interested in the roads listed above. Is it practical to see all 3?
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Sep 14th, 2011, 10:44 AM
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W/the amount of time you have, it should not be a problem. Just keep in mind that the speed limits on the BRP (& other areas) will be 45 mph (or lower in high taffic areas). It can get pretty clogged up in October, particularly on the weekends.
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Sep 19th, 2011, 04:51 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
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agree that is late for foliage watching,esp at the higher elevations,which turn first
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