Planning Your Time
The Asheville area is a convenient base for day visits to Black Mountain and Hendersonville, and even to Brevard, Cashiers, and Highlands in the Southern Mountains. Of course, if you want to see these areas more completely, you're better off spending the night in one or several of these towns. You can also explore some of the most scenic parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville, where it's headquartered. Likewise, it's easy to make day trips to Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Asheville. The Oconaluftee entrance to the Smokies is only an hour and 15 minutes drive from downtown Asheville. But if you want to spend several days or longer in the Smokies, you'll be better off staying in the park or at one of the small towns at the edge of it, such as Bryson City or Waynesville. The High Country is too far away to make a comfortable day trip from Asheville, especially considering the winding mountain roads and possible weather conditions (snow in winter and fog almost any time). To explore the High Country in detail, you'll want to make your headquarters in the appealing college town of Boone or one of the other towns nearby, such as Blowing Rock or Banner Elk.