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Appalachia in Autumn

Five Fall Getaways in the Blue Ridge

As the blur of the hot summer months fades away, the start of fall welcomes crisp cool breezes and new opportunities for adventure. Autumn in Appalachia is the perfect time to hike, paddle, and bike in cooler temperatures that provide a relief from the sweat and stickiness of the summer. Plus, the foliage highlights the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge. Enjoy the fall colors at these unique getaways that provide access to adventure right out their doorsteps. 

Mount Mitchell Eco Retreat. Photo by Sean Busher

For the Hiker: Mount Mitchell Eco Retreat

Burnsville, N.C.

Nestled in Pisgah National Forest, Mount Mitchell Eco Retreat combines a relaxing autumn retreat with access to adventure. Stay in one of 16 cozy retreat rooms and enjoy the hammocks, firepits, and ping pong tables as you hang outside and spend some time near freshwater with two creeks, a spring, and a pond all on the property. 

There’s no better time to visit than fall, where, from late September to mid-November, 500,000 acres of forest come alive with hues of yellow and orange. Hike the Mount Mitchell Trail, which climbs a staggering 3,600 feet in just six miles to a spectacular view from the summit of the tallest mountain in eastern America. Or you can drive a quarter mile from the top of the mountain and enjoy the view from the observation tower. There is no shortage of trails in Pisgah—beginners will enjoy the Max Patch and Roaring Fork Falls trails, while more advanced hikers can take on the Daniel Boone Scout Trail to Calloway Peak. 

For the Yogi: The Atlanta Alpaca Treehouse

Atlanta, Ga.

Have you ever hung out with llamas and alpacas while staying in a treehouse located inside a bamboo forest? If the answer is no, plan for an unforgettable stay at the Alpaca Treehouse in Atlanta this fall. The main feature is the vintage treehouse, built entirely out of reclaimed materials and raised 15 feet above the ground. Though still in the city, you’ll feel removed from Atlanta as you watch the animals roam around the forest from your spot on a swinging outdoor bed. Find meditative bliss during a llama yoga class in the Bamboo Barn, in which the llamas—Figgy, Llyra, and Queen Dali—will keep you company as you find your flow. The animals on the farm, from llamas to roosters, are all rescues, and the farm also breeds critically endangered species to prevent their extinction. What started as just a backyard treehouse and a place to hang out has turned into a Southern getaway with the opportunity to make some new furry friends. 

Scene from Dream Rock Silo. Photos Courtesy of Dream Rock Silo

For the Climber: Dream Rock Silo

Independence, Va.

Switch things up from the typical hotel room and stay at a fully furnished, picturesque red silo in Independence, Va. Booking a night here ensures access to two floors, where you can take in the 360-degree view from the living room and bedroom with windows all around. But the quirks go beyond staying inside a silo—during your stay, you can follow clues to take home a prize located within a secret compartment. 

Scene from Dream Rock Silo. Photos Courtesy of Dream Rock Silo

This gem is only a car ride away from Grayson Highlands State Park and Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, home to the highest peak in Virginia. The park has over 1,000 bouldering routes, providing variety for crag lovers. Crunch some leaves under those climbing shoes as you traverse the first official bouldering trail in the state. Bouldering among rolling meadows, extravagant mountain peaks, and roaming wild ponies will make for a memorable experience in these autumn months. 

For the Angler: Elk River Inn 

Slaty Fork, W.Va.

Located right alongside the Elk River in the Monongahela National Forest, the Elk River Inn is a top regional destination for fly fishing. The inn is a fully licensed fly fishing outfitter that offers a variety of guided trips. Try a six-hour wade and fish trip, level up your skills at the two-day fly fishing school, or challenge yourself during a more difficult wild brook trout trip. 

If you’re looking to fish on your own, the inn offers daily equipment rental services. If you prefer to pedal, the inn provides guided mountain biking tours, shuttle services, and bike rentals. After a long day of exploring, enjoy a comfortable stay in one of eight guest rooms or four cabins on the property. 

Santee State Park Cabins. Photos Courtesy of Discover South Carolina

For the Paddler: Santee State Park Cabins

Santee, S.C.

Picture this: you feel the wind blow gently across your kayak as you dip your paddle in the lake, the water reflecting the multicolored foliage of the trees around you. Capture this peaceful autumn scene at your stay in one of Santee State Park’s 10 pier cabins or 20 cabins on the shore of Lake Marion, South Carolina’s largest lake. Each fully furnished cabin sleeps up to six people. 

Santee State Park Cabins. Photos Courtesy of Discover South Carolina

For a day out on the water, you can rent paddleboards, kayaks, and canoes directly from the park. Fishing is also big at Santee, where you can catch largemouth bass, striped bass, bream, crappie, and catfish (with a valid South Carolina fishing license). Finish a day with a walk on one of the three short nature trails located around the park, or go for a bike ride on the park’s seven-mile multi-use trail. 

Cover Photo: Scene from Dream Rock Silo. Photos Courtesy of Dream Rock Silo

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