From just north of Asheville to just outside Cherokee, N.C., and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this route here winds extensively through tunnels and around mountains, offering sweeping views of mountains and valleys.
Oh, and some very steep dropoffs. Those who have difficulty with heights should leave the driving here to others and might find themselves closing their eyes until the vehicle is parked.
Almost every overlook on this portion of the parkway is worth a stop and at least a short stroll from the parking lot, so plan on at least three hours — even better, four to five — for this bite. The parkway’s highest elevation overlook — Richland Balsam — is here, at 6,047 feet. Other don’t-miss overlooks include Mount Pisgah, Mills River Valley, Cold Mountain, Courthouse Valley, Waynesville and Big Witch.
Plan to also spend some time (suggestion: overnight) at both ends of this trip. Cherokee is home to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, with museums and cultural attractions (and some kitsch). There are many lodging options in this region, and plenty of good hiking trails and fine fishing spots.