North Carolina fall foliage features brilliant hues and spectacular scenery. The changing colors of leaves in autumn is one of nature’s most beloved rites of passage -- and makes for one of the most popular and inexpensive getaways for families. As part of LeafQuest -- a MapQuest series helping leaf peepers across North America find easy and rewarding destinations -- here are three recommended spots for viewing North Carolina fall foliage. — Andres Jauregui
Chimney Rock State Park
Though set high in the Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina's Chimney Rock State Park offers visitors an array of other colors every fall: rusty reds, golden yellows and bright oranges. "The Blue Ridge Mountain range features one of most colorful and longest leaf color displays in the U.S.," boasts Chimney Rock naturalist Ron Lance. Speaking of good views, from atop the eye-popping overlook at the park's namesake attraction, one can see as far as 75 miles. Be sure to also take the easy hike to scenic Hickory Nut Falls. The 404-foot waterfall is one of the tallest east of the Mississippi River.
431 Main St., Chimney Rock, NC 28720 | Get Directions
A Gilded Age manor house, built by the Vanderbilts at the turn of the 20th century, presides over the sprawling forest and grounds of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The mansion is the largest privately owned home in the United States and has "starred" in a number of feature-length films. The 8,000-acre estate hosts a variety of fall events at its Antler Hill village and winery. But the biggest autumn splash is made by the trees themselves, particularly the sourwoods, the Japanese maples, the black gums, the Washington hawthorns and scarlet oaks.
1 Lodge St., Asheville, NC 28803 | Get Directions
Blue Ridge Parkway
The National park Service notes that the "Blue Ridge Parkway is designed as a slow paced and relaxing drive." Small wonder it is considered by many to be one of the most outstanding fall-color-viewing scenic byways in the United States. The parkway runs down the mountainous backbone of Virgina and North Carolina. The North Carolina section offers travelers many sweeping views and picturesque overlooks along its 250-mile run through the Appalachian, Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains. Hikers can stop at various trailheads to get a closer look at the brilliant orange, red, maroon and gold fall colors on sassafras, red maple and yellow poplar trees. Some popular fall hikes are through Graveyard Fields and nearby Devil's Courthouse.
Devil's Courthouse, Balsam Grove, NC | Get Directions
A photo slideshow of fall foliage along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
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