Leaf season is here. In addition to the fall colors, rates for hotels and vacation rental sites in the North Carolina mountains are also at their peak. While a weekend amongst the deep reds, yellows, and oranges is probably worth whatever you could spend on it, you do have other options.
An important note: doctors and others have requested that people avoid the town of Boone as COVID-19 has hit critical levels and overwhelmed local ICUs. Please avoid Boone until further notice if possible.
Here are a few inexpensive ways to catch the splendor of fall colors in the NC mountains.
State Parks Are A Great Place To Stay And See Fall Colors in the NC Mountains
North Carolina is home to an astounding 34 state parks, with 10 of them in the mountains and foothills of the state. All of them provide incredible views and vast expanses of nature. They also provide safe and affordable campsites with accessible water and bathrooms. Some parks even have cozy cabins for rent.
While you might have trouble booking popular camping locations like Linville Gorge, especially on weekends, you can find plenty of options if you’re flexible. Just use the state’s camping info and reservation page to find available sites and reserve a space.
Hipcamp Has Plenty Of Unique Options
Think of it as the Airbnb of camping. Hipcamp lets people who own land rent campsites to people looking for something a little more unique. You’ve got lots of options in convenient places to check out the fall colors in the NC mountains.
Hipcamp offers a wide range of accommodations from bare-bones patches of grass to full-on glamping cabin setups, giving you choices at a variety of budget levels. You can use filters to help you find the options that suit you best.
There’s Always Couchsurfing, Sort Of
People who have backpacked in the United States or abroad might have heard of Couchsurfing. For the uninitiated, Couchsurfing is an online platform that lets people offer up their space for free to travelers.
The company has come under fire for making the leap from a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to a for-profit corporation. Recently, they’ve also added a monthly membership fee of $2 and a $60 fee for users to become “verified,” which the company says adds an extra layer of security.
However, you don’t need to be a verified member to couchsurf. For the basic membership fee you can connect with people living in the NC mountains near gorgeous fall colors, stay somewhere for free, and maybe even make some new friends.
A Day trip’s Not So Bad
Depending on where you live in North Carolina, a day trip up to somewhere like the Blue Ridge Parkway is a lot of driving, but still completely doable.
For folks living in the Triangle, the Deep Gap entrance to the parkway is only about two-and-a-half hours. Charlotte residents can hit the parkway at Blowing Rock in under two hours.
Once you’re on the parkway, you’ll have some of the the best views in NC of the fall colors. You’ll also have access to gorgeous and completely free hiking trails all along the parkway.
The fall colors in the NC mountains is a once-in-a-year spectacle that you shouldn’t miss. With a few inexpensive options available to everyone, there’s no need to let budget get in the way.
Can’t get enough fall this year? How about some amazing fall beers brewed right here in the Tar Heel State? Looking for some fall fun a little closer to the Triangle? These pumpkin patches won’t disappoint.