If you want to see the best of the North Carolina mountains near Asheville in just one afternoon or morning, this is the drive for you! At roughly 60-miles, this loop drive has many possible stops along the way. It includes a super-scenic stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway (with a dozen tunnels) and our favorite section of Pisgah National Forest. Begin or end with shopping, see amazing gardens, visit a waterfall and see panoramic mountain views. So you could easily spend an entire day or two if you include some of the hikes, shopping or a brewery tour.
This route begins on the south side of Asheville at I-26 (exit 33) - just a few miles from downtown. Our mileage below is approximate and will vary depending on the stops you make. The first 34 miles are winding mountain roads, so drive slow and enjoy the views. At the bottom of this page, see a Google Map that outlines this drive.
Stop at one of many Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks to soak in the mountain views.
Best of Mountains Drive Details
- Start and finish at Asheville Outlets (800 Brevard Road, Asheville). This nice outdoor shopping village has 70+ national outlets. From the mall, turn left onto NC 191 South.
- Mile 2.5: The North Carolina Arboretum is located at the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Stop to see the gardens and exhibits or continue to the Parkway. Turn right to go SOUTH on the Blue Ridge Parkway (you will be at Milepost 394) to climb the ridge.
- Mile 13.4: Mills River Valley Overlook: While there are many overlooks (and tunnels) along this section of the Parkway, this overlook is our favorite spot to watch sunrises over many mountain ridges and through valley fog. Amazing views any time of day!
- Mile 16.5: Pisgah Inn restaurant sits at 5,000 ft. Stop for lunch (April-October), and enjoy panoramic vistas from their big windows. Also, find a great gift shop. Nearby is the hike to Mt. Pisgah.
- Mile 19.8: Exit the Parkway onto US 276 and turn left to head south toward Brevard. This is the Forest Heritage National Scenic Byway.
- Mile 23.5: Pink Beds is a picnic area with a five-mile loop hike through a high elevation bog.
- Mile 23.8: Cradle of Forestry (open mid-April through early November) is the birthplace of American forestry with exhibits, many historic buildings and paved trails.
- Mile 27.1: Sliding Rock is a favorite summer tradition for many. Ride this natural slide in the chilly mountain waters or stop to watch.
- Mile 28.2: Moore Cove Falls hike on the left takes you to an overhanging waterfall that you can walk behind.
- Mile 29.2: Looking Glass Falls is a rare roadside waterfall that everyone can enjoy. A must-see for sure.
- Mile 29.6: Forest Service Road 475 on the right. Turn here for the strenuous hike to the top of Looking Glass Rock or visit the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education. Read more about Pisgah National Forest.
- Mile 32.7: Pisgah Ranger Station on the left has plenty of information about the huge national forest. Nearby are Davidson Campground, Pisgah Riding Stables for horseback rides and picnic areas.
- Mile 34.2: Leave the forest and enter the town of Brevard. At the stoplight, turn left on NC 280 North to return to Asheville. Take a short detour (3.5 miles) to the right to explore downtown Brevard.
- Mile 50.2: Sierra Nevada Brewery (100 Sierra Nevada Way) has tours, a restaurant and tastings.
- Mile 61.2: Return to Asheville Outlets.
Looking Glass Falls
Best of the NC Blue Ridge Mountains Scenic Drive Map