The spectacular views in North Carolina’s High Country aren’t just inspiration for writers, painters, and sculptors. Those landscapes — the rugged gray face of Grandfather Mountain, the vibrant fall leaves, the deep green meadows — are brushstrokes on Earth’s own canvas.
According to Cherokee legend, when the Earth was created, the Great Buzzard flew low over the flat land, his beating wings sculpting mountains and valleys below. Today, science offers its own explanations for our state’s geological marvels.
Need inspiration for your fall leaf-peeping trip? During a drive on these winding scenic byways — with plenty of stops for waterfalls, hikes, museums, delicious food, and gorgeous views along the way — the journey is the destination.
We talked to three biologists about how and when to plan a trip to see peak fall color in North Carolina, their favorite hikes and overlooks, and why our mountains are one of the best places in the country to see stunning autumn leaves.