This is where the Blue Ridge Parkway meets the Great Smokies. Waynesville is the seat of Haywood County. About 40% of the county is occupied by Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pisgah National Forest, and the Harmon Den Wildlife Refuge. The town of Waynesville is a rival of Blowing Rock and Highlands as a summer and vacation-home retreat for the well-to-do, though the atmosphere here is a bit more countrified.

Folkmoot USA, a two-week international festival that began in Waynesville in 1984 and is held annually in July, brings music and dancing groups from around the world to various venues in Waynesville and elsewhere in western North Carolina.

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