We’re not traveling as much in our fifth wheel anymore so I thought it would be fun to relive some of our most memorable days from previous RV trips.
Flash back to twelve years ago, October 3, 2007. We were camping in Cherokee, North Carolina, our home base for visiting the Great Smokey Mountain National Park and the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was foggy and drizzling for most of our stay but we managed to get in some sightseeing and scenic drives while we were there.
We started the day with a three mile hike along the Oconaluftee River inside Great Smokey Mountains National Park.
Next up was a scenic drive starting at the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The farther north we got, the thicker the fog. After a while it drizzling. I was able to get a few photos before before the weather got too bad.
It was a wonderful fall getaway with camping in Cherokee, visiting the national park, and taking drives on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Claytor Lake State Park has been a frequent camping destination since we have been RV’ing and is one of our favorite state parks with a beautiful lake, trails, and wildlife.
Seeing the Natural Bridge requires either a walk down many steps to a paved path or taking a shuttle drive down the hill to the beginning of the path. Either way it is worth it to see this amazing natural formation.
Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!
I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is
North Carolina became the 12th state on November 21, 1789. The capital is Raleigh.
From the Great Smokey Mountains to the Outer Banks, there is a lot to explore in North Carolina. Waterfalls and beaches, hikes and scenic drives, mountains and racetracks, wildlife and wildflowers – these are just a few of the things that make North Carolina memorable.
Back before our RVing days we wandered around the Outer Banks seeing the lighthouses and beaches, visiting the Wright Brothers Monument where they took their first flight, and taking the ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke. Another ferry took us from Ocracoke back to the mainland where we visited Bath where the pirate Blackbeard once lived.
Ocracoke Lighthouse, NC
Bodie Island Lighthouse, NC
Wright Brothers Memorial
Ocracoke Island Ferry
If you love waterfalls, you won’t be disappointed in North Carolina.
Waterfall along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Tom Branch Falls
Juney Whank Falls
It doesn’t get any better than a campsite with a beautiful view. Our campsite at Campfire Lodgings in Asheville was perfect for hanging out after hiking or touring the fabulous Biltmore Estate.
After two days of elk watching in Cataloochee Valley we packed a lunch and set out from our campground in Waynesville for a 40 mile drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway in search of fall colors.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469 mile scenic parkway through the southern Appalachian Mountains in Virginia and North Carolina. The northernmost point of the parkway is Mile 0 in Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, Virginia. The southernmost point is Mile 469 near Cherokee, North Carolina. There are scenic overlooks, picnic areas, hiking trails, and campgrounds all along the way.
Although we have traversed several sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway in the past we had never been on the area in North Carolina north of the Highest Point at Mile 431. On our journey this time we traveled south from Mile 408 at Mount Pisgah to Maggie Valley at about Mile 455.
The first order of business was a picnic at the Mount Pisgah picnic area at the top of a short paved trail. After lunch under the trees we started our journey south, stopping at several of the scenic overlooks. It was too early in the year for the peak autumn colors but a few of the leaves were beginning to change.
Looking Glass Rock got it’s name because sunlight will reflect off the granite when there is water collected on it.
There was beautiful scenery every where we looked.
We found a few more fall colors.
There are many folktales surrounding the Devil’s Courthouse. It was getting late and we decided to skip the trail to the top.
The picture on the left was taken 8 years ago when we first stopped at the Highest Point of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile 431. The one on the right from this visit.
Highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Highest Point on the Blue Ridge Parkway
The photo below is the view from the Highest Point.
A few clouds rolled in as we continued south,
Our home base for exploring Cataloochee Valley and the Blue Ridge Parkway was Creekwood RV Park a few miles north of Waynesville and Maggie Valley. Our site backed up to a beautiful creek. It was a perfect place to relax after a day of wandering.
Beautiful Creek behind our campsite
Sitting by the creek was a great way to end each day
Duck in the creek behind our RV
Of course we had to try some North Carolina barbeque while were were there. The Heywood Smokehouse in Waynesville was recommended and the spareribs, chicken, and brisket were done to perfection. And it turns out the owners are originally from Georgia!
Beautiful fall weather, bugling elk, scenic drives, camping beside a creek, and delicious barbeque. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Fall was in the air when we arrived in Virginia. In just a few days we went from hot and muggy to crisp and cool. Our shorts and tee shirts were traded for jeans and sweatshirts. The air conditioner was turned off and the windows were open to let the fresh air in. And the best part was campfires at night.
We love to stay at Claytor Lake State Park in Dublin, Virginia when we visit our daughter’s family. We had a great time hanging out with our grandkids in their new home and meeting their two new kittens. Watching our granddaughter’s swim team practice and our grandson’s soccer game were the highlights of this trip and the reason we came up here.
Sadly, we couldn’t spend every minute with the family so we spent some time exploring the area. This was our fifth stay at Claytor Lake and wandering on the many trails in the park is always one of my favorite activities.
Trail at Claytor Lake State Park
One day we decided to take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. In order to get to our destination, the Rocky Knob Visitor’s Center at milepost 170, we had to drive about 30 miles on a narrow country road through beautiful farmland. After a stop at the visitor’s center to get my National Park Passport stamped we had lunch in the picnic area. A narrow one way road winds through the picnic area which has picnic tables scattered around the hills.
After lunch we enjoyed our short drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The views from the overlooks were spectacular
We only drove about ten miles on the parkway before exiting to the town of Floyd for a return visit to the Floyd Country Store. I posted about our visit to their Sunday Jam Session in this post from 2013.
Saturday morning before driving to Roanoke to our grandson’s soccer game I walked down to the lake to watch the start of the Claytor Lake Triathlon. An 80 year old man, his 50 year old son and his grandson all participated in the event. After watching the swimmers take off, I walked to the beach to see them exit the water and run to their bikes to begin the bike race.
Start of the Claytor Lake Triathlo
Waiting for the swimmers
Swimmers heading for the beach
Starting the bike ride
On our last morning at the state park I woke up to see four deer in the campground.
On Sunday afternoon our daughter’s family came out for a visit. So much fun sitting by the fire, going for a walk, playing ladderball, and sharing a meal of burgers, hot dogs and of course s’mores. A perfect end to our stay at Claytor Lake.