Here are some great drives to take during your visit to Boone.
This is our challenger to the famous “Dragon”. Very twisty, and very entertaining. Miles of curves and a favorite of the sport bike riders. This map shows the same route we will be taking on Saturday morning’s “Striped Snake Run“. The route also includes Big Laurel Road, Three Top Road, Railroad Grade, and a stop at the Historic Todd General Store.
Lots to see on this shorter tour through picturesque farms on curvy and sometimes twisty roads. The map begins with a good photo opportunity at the Trade Grist Mill. TN 67 becomes NC 88 as it follows streams and rivers to West Jefferson and the Church of the Frescoes. Following NC 194 as it twists and turns through horse farms, you arrive in Todd, NC. Todd is a great tourist stop, with the historic Todd General Store, and even a small bakery. It’s just a short trip back into Boone.
You couldn’t ask for a better 50 miles! Shulls Mill Road is one of the twistiest stretches of road in the area, and beautiful. When you reach US 221 you are in for a real treat. This highway is blessed with smooth and flowing curves and many awe inspiring sites. Boulders and waterfalls make an amazing backdrop to a true sports car road. You arrive at Grandfather Mountain, home to abundant wildlife and the Mile High Swinging Bridge. Return along the Blue Ridge Parkway and you will cross the famous Linn Cove Viaduct. Just a couple miles further is the reflective Julian Price Lake. Motoring a bit further and you can visit Moses Cone’s Flat Top Manor. You will be impressed.
Two spectacular waterfalls highlight this half-day outing. A short jaunt to Banner Elk will get you onto a gem of a road barely known outside the local area. The map doesn’t do justice to Hickory Nut Gap Road. It will require your full attention as is winds its way to Newland. When you reach Linville Falls expect a bit of a hike. The best vantage points take you several hundred yards down a well marked trail. All the overlooks afford views just made for post cards. Winding north just into Tennessee, a rambling road takes you to the big and powerful Elk River Falls. The newly revamped Hwy 194 takes you back to Valle Crucis, NC – the location of the famous original Mast General Store, and Valle Crucis Bed & Breakfast, where Damon’s Beer Swap is held.
Benny Parsons’ Rendezvous Ridge Winery sits in the heart of moonshine country. Wilkes County has long been known for moonshine and ridge runners. While Parsonville was legendary for the production of illegal whiskey, the area’s spirit-making interest has turned to wine. You can run some of those old “likker” roads, and visit the late racer’s winery for a taste. Fall Creek Road crests a summit in this farm community before dropping down the mountain and back to 421. This is great outing for small groups. If you want to extend the adventure, continue on to Kerr Scott Reservoir, and follow Scenic Highway 268 to the grave site of the infamous convicted murderer Tom “Dooley” Dula.
One of our favorite local roads. It climbs and twists quickly over a couple ridges to the high valley in Bethel. Caution, this road can be unforgiving. Please give it respect, and only run it from Cove Creek towards Bethel to avoid dangerous downhill hairpins. If you want to extend this into a longer adventure, Joan suggests throwing in this extension to include Beach Mountain and NC 194 through Banner Elk and Valle Crucis.
Two Dragon-like roads in one amazing loop. Give yourself plenty of time for this all-encompassing tour. The best sites the Blue Ridge Parkway has to offer are the just the icing on this cake. After enjoying great vistas on the BRP, get ready to crack the Devil’s Whip – or will it crack you?? This road is quickly gaining favor with enthusiasts tired of the slow-moving crowds at Deals Gap. Blind Kenny has taken up residency in a wide spot and offers super high quality action shots of sports cars and motorcycles, as well as offering shirts and other memorabilia on his website. When you reach the bottom, you are treated to the beauty of Lake Tahoma. A quick connection via Toms Creek will get you onto one of my personal favorites – The Diamondback. The map simply calls it Hwy 226A, but the locals barely speak of it for fear of the secret getting out. The Diamondback climbs and twists while your hard-working engine sings down the canyon. Once you get to the top you can enjoy the view while touring the shops in Little Switzerland. A well-deserved ice cream cone in the Swiss Ice Cream Shoppe, or maybe a glass of wine in the Inn. The Switzerland Inn Trading Company offers Diamondback shirts and memorabilia. It’s easy to spend hours enjoying this little village.
A true back-roads tour. If you are willing to accept a couple hundred yards of smooth gravel road, this is a big pay-off. A truly unique drive featuring a one-lane tunnel, empty serpentine two-lane black top, and a small but worthwhile waterfall. This is a great little get-away for a small group. This is also a great route to take if you have a little extra time leaving Boone for points south. Plenty of opportunities for the photographer.
We’ve dubbed this “The Epic Run”. You will need to set aside the entire day to complete this, but every moment is worthwhile. Certainly one of the most epic Miata drive’s we’ve ever done, covering nearly 300 miles of roads on par with anything the rest of the US has to offer. You won’t be disappointed. Choose your favorite route to Jefferson, then detour onto Old NC 16 to the Virginia line. In Virginia, the road becomes VA 16, and continues all the way to Tazewell. The 32 miles from Hungry Mother Park to Frog Level are like 32 miles of the Dragon or the Snake – only deserted. Seriously, we only met one car in this 32 miles of twisties over three ridges. Plus, unlike the Dragon or Snake, the speed limit is still 55mph! You’ll continue on to the strange collapse crater which makes up Burke’s Garden. The road into Burke’s Garden is another super twisty road over the ridge which is maybe 8 miles of very rapid climb and decent to the floor of this “Land of the Lost” type valley. After a tour around Burke’s Garden, head east, where you’ll encounter Grapefield Road. This road is much like the awesome 221, except a bit narrower. It’s a pleasure to hold about 55 mph through the rising and falling off-cambers and gravity-cavities of this roller coaster. Next, you’ll head South on Scenic Hwy 52. Another very impressive road, and a stop at Big Walker Lookout affords an amazing view. In the 5 miles immediately after Big Walker we found a few dips in odd places which were substantial enough to bottom the suspension. This road goes for many miles, and curves and sweeps its way though hundreds of very old farms. Blacklick Road and Hwy 21 bring you more great scenery. A short trip down Hwy 18 from Sparta, NC brings you to the little town of Laurel Springs, where you can have some refreshments before jumping on the Parkway for the return trip to Boone. One Incredible trip.
A great path with plenty of curves, and exceptional scenery.