Blue Ridge Parkway
If you want to sample the Blue Ridge Parkway and also enjoy some beautiful mountain scenery, try the Balsam Mountain Road, which leaves the parkway between Oconaluftee and Soco Gap. It winds for 14.5 kilometers (9 miles) back into the national park’s Balsam Mountain Campground. Incredible azalea displays will dazzle you, when in season. If you are adventurous and want to try a mountain dirt road, continue past the campground to the Heintooga Picnic Area and the start of the Round Bottom Road (closed during winter). This is a 22.5-kilometer (14-mile), partially one-way, unpaved road that descends the mountain to the river valley below and joins the Big Cove Road in the Cherokee Indian Reservation. You come out right below Oconaluftee at the edge of the park.