Fall is an especially magical time in the mountains of Western North Carolina and the colors seem to shine a little brighter when they surround the vast array of waterfalls, lakes, and rivers. The bright reds, yellows, and oranges of the season create breathtaking beauty that has to be seen in person to fully appreciate.

The mountain town of Franklin, NC is tucked away in the valley of the Southern Nantahala, Blue Ridge, and Great Smoky Mountains and is the perfect base camp for fall adventures, whether you want to take in the scenic mountain drives of the Mountain Waters Scenic Byway exploring the many waterfalls of the Cullasaja River Gorge or take a loop drive through the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway, leaf lookers will delight in every direction.

Mountain Waters Scenic Byway

Heading west over the afore mentioned Mountain Waters Scenic Byway, the Nantahala Community awaits with a peaceful quiet that only a place known as Nature’s Paradise can offer. Nantahala Lake sits at 3,000’ elevation and with 42 miles of shoreline that is nearly eighty-five percent undeveloped, you are surrounded by the Nantahala National Forest. There are cabin and lodge rentals available for groups of all sizes. The lake also offers many recreational opportunities that include swimming, boating, and skiing. Fisherman will find large and smallmouth bass, trout, salmon, catfish, and more. Rent a boat from the local marina or bring your own to one of the two public boat ramps. 

A little further west and you’ll be in the Nantahala River Gorge, where you can enjoy even more time in the great outdoors fly fishing, kayaking, or head over to one of the local rafting companies and raft the whitewater of the Nantahala River.

Thanks to the geography of the Franklin & Nantahala area, the fall season stretches out over the course of weeks, leaving plenty of opportunity to enjoy the changing colors. Higher elevations typically begin to see change in late September into the early days of October. The colors then work their way down to mountains and into the valley usually peaking in late October. 

The Smoky Mountain Center

After exploring the mountains, rivers, and lakes you’ll need some time to unwind and enjoy some small-town charm. Franklin and Nantahala aren’t just for the outdoor adventurers, there’s plenty to see and do without having to go far at all. The Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts offers concerts and productions at their world-class 1,500 seat theater. Walk the Women’s History Trail, the only one of its kind in North Carolina, step back in time at the Macon County Historical Museum and the Franklin Gem & Mineral Museum. Be careful to behave there, as the latter was the town’s jail for many decades. 

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Settle in for an evening of fun and family friendly atmosphere at one of our local craft breweries. With live music, food trucks, and seasonal craft beer on tap, it’s the perfect way to end the day with family and friends. For a more traditional sit-down meal, there are fine dining and farm to table restaurants on Main Street and close to downtown.

Whether you visit us in the fall or make plans to come during another time of year, Franklin & Nantahala, NC offer something for everyone to enjoy. We truly are Your Gateway to Adventure.