Looking for a summer adventure? You do not have to drive far find plenty of fascinating recreational, historical and cultural treasures to explore along North Carolina’s Scenic Byways, which criss-cross every region of the state.
Cool off in the mountains with a trip down the Nantahala Byway, which begins in far Western North Carolina in the Cherokee County town of Marble. The byway travels through the Nantahala National Forest, paralleling the Nantahala River, a world-class whitewater rafting destination. Local outfitters provide rafting, kayaking and canoeing tours during the warmer months and even into the fall and winter seasons.
From Marble, take U.S. 19/74/129 east through eight miles of farming valley, framed by breathtaking views. Turn right to follow U.S. 19 Business through the town of Andrews, rejoining U.S. 19/74/129 north of town where the road becomes two lanes. From Andrews it is approximately seven miles to the community of Topton. For the next 20 miles, the byway passes through the Nantahala Gorge next to the Nantahala River. A few miles later, the byway exits the Gorge and U.S. 74 becomes a four-lane divided highway. Continue to Exit 67, the second exit for Bryson City. From here, the byway travels through downtown Bryson City and past portions of tribal lands owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians before crossing the Tuckaseegee River and ending two miles past the Jackson County line in the town of Whittier at the intersection of Old U.S. 19 and U.S. 74.
Roanoke Voyages Corridor Byway
Head to the coast to the Roanoke Voyages Corridor Byway in Dare County, which takes motorists by monuments of time and history. The byway follows U.S. 64 for nine miles across Roanoke Island from the Croatan Sound Bridge to the Roanoke Sound Bridge.
While here visitors can experience one of history’s most famous unsolved tales by attending the state’s longest running outdoor drama, “The Lost Colony”. This site, known as the first English settlement in North America, is equally well-known for its mysterious disappearance.
Whether visitors go to the island’s historic sites, attend cultural events, or stop by the beautiful waterfront with many shops and restaurants, an excursion down the U.S. 64 Roanoke Voyages Corridor offers a pleasant and unforgettable drive, walk or bike ride.
Roanoke Island is shaded with more than 1,000 trees planted as part of the 400th Anniversary celebration of English beginnings on the island. Other attractions here consist of a multi-use trail, the North Carolina Aquarium, the Elizabeth II, wildlife viewing, boating and fishing.
Yadkin Valley Scenic Drive
Take a trip to the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains north of Winston-Salem to explore the Yadkin Valley Scenic Drive, one of the state’s newest byways.
Located in the heart of North Carolina’s wine country, visitors can tour seven wineries located along and near the route. Thousands of tourists flock here every May for the area’s annual wine festival. The small town traditions of the Yadkin Valley, as well as numerous bike trails and scenic views, also serve as a big draw for visitors. The byway is conveniently located within a short drive of the Charlotte Metro Area, Triad and the Asheville area.
The main route of the Yadkin Valley Scenic Byway starts at the Zephyr Road/Kapps Mill Road intersection. Continue on Kapps Mill Road until it ends at River Road. Turn right onto River Road and continue until it ends at Haystack Road. Turn right onto Haystack Road and continue until it intersects with Fisher Valley Road.) Turn right onto Beulah Road and immediately turn onto I-77 North. Continue on I-77 until the NC 89 Exit. Turn right onto Round Peak Church Road and the Scenic Byway will end at Round Peak Vineyards.
For more information and to view maps and detailed directions for these byways, visit the North Carolina Scenic Byways website.