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North Carolina Road Trip Map


From the never-ending vistas of the Great Smoky Mountains to the man-made splendor of Lake Lure, this trip through the “Land of the Waterfalls,” is sure to get your senses swimming. Expect the unexpected as you make your way through mines, museums and one of the most lively cities in the country.


A pan for gold in a streem

1. Franklin

Starting Point • Nature, Outdoor Recreation

Franklin is situated in the heart of the historic Cowee Valley, where rubies and sapphires have been mined for generations. Test your own luck panning for these rare gems in the many mines and mineral museums just outside of town. Discover treasure of a different kind at the spectacular waterfalls along U.S. Route 64. Ranging from 60 to 250 feet, Bridal Veil, Dry and Cullasaja Falls are three must-sees.


Recommended Stopovers

The Great Outdoors RV Resort • Franklin, NC – (828)349-0412


Mist on a valley floor.

2. Cherokee

Drive 31.4 miles, 41 minutes • History, Nature

Gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee is home to an important part of American history. Visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian to learn more of the tribe’s story and their unique cultural contributions. Just before the entrance to the National Park, you’ll find one of Cherokee’s hidden gems — Mingo Falls. A beautiful quarter-mile hike from the parking area rewards visitors with a 200-foot cascade.


3. Lake Junaluska

Drive 36.5 miles, 41 minutes • History, Nature, Outdoor Recreation

This mountain retreat, founded by the Methodist Church in the early 1900s, is designed with relaxation in mind. The 3.8-mile trail that winds around the lake has designated resting and viewing areas; the dozen or so lavish gardens that border the water are worth a visit. Kayaks and canoes are available to rent, and the lake is stocked with bass, crappie and catfish.


4. Asheville

Drive 27 miles, 31 minutes • Food, Nature, Outdoor Recreation

An eclectic, vibrant city with one of the Southeast’s best art scenes, Asheville has something for everyone. Don’t worry about working up an appetite, as Asheville is home to award-winning farm-to-table restaurants and 10 craft breweries right in downtown. Nearby Pisgah National Forest is home to the popular, and utterly photogenic, Looking Glass Falls. At 60 feet in height, this cascade is named after a nearby rock that resembles a mirror during winter. Look for a great place to park your RV with this list of Asheville RV Parks.


Recommended Stopovers

Asheville Bear Creek RV Park • Asheville, NC – (800)833-0798


An American flag over a rock promontory

5. Chimney Rock

Drive 25.2 miles, 45 minutes • Nature, Outdoor Recreation

Tucked into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Lake Lure is an example of one of the country’s finest man-made lakes. Surrounded on all sides by striking granite cliffs — including the famed Chimney Rock, a location in numerous Hollywood films — the vistas from above are unmatched. Nearby, Rainbow Falls is a 150-foot cascade that’s famous for the rainbow that appears in the fall’s mist.