One Tank Trips to the NC Mountains
With gas prices on everyone’s mind, we’re all looking to stretch our budgets without compromising our sense of adventure or need for a vacation. Located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, Jackson County, North Carolina, offers a cool and quiet getaway within a short drive of the Southeast’s largest and hottest cities.
Before summer is over, plan your easily accessible, relaxing retreat to cooler temps.
The Western North Carolina Mountains are full of free and fun activities for everyone to enjoy.
- The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the temperate world. Witness the thriving elk population from the comfort of your car, take a trek among the wildflowers, or visit several free attractions within the park.
- The Blue Ridge Parkway is ‘America’s Favorite Drive’ and traverses over 45 miles of Jackson County’s northeast border from Cherokee to Balsam Gap. Enjoy cooler temperatures and stunning vistas from iconic overlooks such as Waterrock Knob, Richland Balsam, and Cowee Mountain Overlook.
- Pinnacle Park is famous for the intense West Fork Trail, a seven-mile round trip trek ascending over 3,000 feet. However, the park itself has several other trails and walking paths perfect for taking a laid-back stroll in nature. Pinnacle Park is also the State’s first Certified Forest Therapy Trail where hikers can experience either self-guided or guided Shinrin Yoku (forest bathing) tours.
- Jackson County’s Rivers & Lakes offer a great way to cool off without breaking the bank. Enjoy the sandy swim beach at Lake Glenville’s Pines Recreation Area for some fun in the sun! Enjoy the best of the beach and the mountains without riptides, sharks, or jellyfish to worry about. The Tuckasegee River is the county’s largest, spanning over 50 miles, and is a hub for anglers and paddlers alike. Those looking to stay dry will want to check out the Tuckasegee River Greenway, a two-mile there-and-back trail perfect for families looking to cool off.
- Shopping in Downtown Sylva & Dillsboro – Explore our charming & walkable downtown corridors in both Sylva & Dillsboro. Find shops with locally crafted keepsakes, pottery, quilts, jewelry, and more.
- Elevate your Adventure in Cashiers – Discover natural wonders ranging from the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies to one of the oldest mountains in the world, Whiteside Mountain. Afterward, relax with delicious dining, upscale boutique shopping, or make a splash at Cashiers Sliding Rock.
Discover More on our Top 15 Free Attractions in the NC Mountains Blog
Regional Road Trips
- Distance to Sylva: 99 Miles Via US 25-N to I 40 W
- Time: 90 Minutes
Other Route Options: Take the scenic route to Cashiers via 107 N. This route passes some of South Carolina’s hidden gems, including Lake Keowee, Lake Jocassee, and lower Whitewater Falls. While this route requires more twists and turns, it does give drivers easy access to both Upper Whitewater Falls and Silver Run Falls, which are both great places to stop, stretch your legs, and take in the views.
- Distance to Sylva: 150 Miles Via US-23 N
- Time: 2 Hours 45 Minutes
Other Route Options: Exploring the scenic route to Cashiers is a great way to make the most out of this road trip. Once in Dillard, Georgia, take Highway 246 through the sister town of Highlands, NC. Along this route, make sure to stop off at regional favorite waterfalls, including Dry & Bridal Veil Falls, as they are must-sees while in the NC Mountains.
- Distance to Sylva: 162 Miles Via US-74 W
- Time: 2 Hours 50 Minutes
- Distance to Sylva: 295 Miles Via I 40 W
- Time: 4 Hours 30 Minutes
Fuel Your Sense of Adventure
It’s time to fuel up your sense of adventure. Jackson County has some of the best lodging rates in the region, from cabins to vacation rentals, boutique inns, to hotels. Save both time and money by booking a weekday trip with lower lodging rates and no waits at your favorite restaurants and attractions. Use our ‘Trip Planner’ to inspire your one-tank getaway today!
Header Image Courtesy of @victoriagracephotography