BY MELISSA WISTEHUFF
Autumn in North Carolina’s high country delivers spectacular beauty, breathtaking colors and endless opportunities for adventure. With its cool temperatures and vivid views, it’s no wonder fall is one of Boone’s most-visited times of year. Although peak fall foliage times differ each year, the best bet when planning to see the stunning change from green to yellow, orange and red is in October. We’ve compiled a list of must-dos while visiting Boone and its surrounding towns this fall.
Appalachian State University Football Games
Fall in Boone is not complete without attending an Appalachian State University home football game, when fans flock to the town’s quaint downtown area to cheer on the Mountaineers. Tailgaters expand from the stadium into most sections of town, giving weekend visitors a glimpse at how serious fans in this mountain town are about their football team.
High Gravity Adventures
Experience high climbing excitement at High Gravity Adventures, a zip line and aerial park. Unleash your inner Tarzan on the ropes course, zoom between valleys on the zip line, traverse the sky bridge and buckle up for a four-story, three-seater swing. This family-friendly park has something for every age—and thrill-seeker—in your group.
RiverGirl Fishing Co.
Nestled beside the New River in Todd, a little over 12 miles northeast of Boone, RiverGirl Fishing provides all necessary gear for a day on—or in—the water. From bike to kayak and canoe rentals, you’ll find something to suit everyone in your group. Learn to fly fish in the trout-filled water with an experienced guide, or relax on a tube while the current carries you down the river. RiverGirl Fishing’s ecotours and equipment rentals ensure you’ll experience an unforgettable mountain day.
Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park
The pinnacle of fun for mountain bike riders, Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park provides the ideal setting for all levels of experience. You’ll find four skill areas with five trails, plus more than a dozen side trails and connectors, each offering exceptional scenic experiences. Rocky Knob Mountain Bike Park also contains a playground for younger members of the family.
Sky Valley Zip Tours
Journey through the High Country on an electric four-wheel-drive off-road vehicle at Sky Valley Zip Tours’ Mountain Cat off-road adventure tour in Blowing Rock. Conquer challenging inclines and rocky paths as part of this exciting experience for all skill levels. The 140-acre property features several miles of thrilling trails to explore.
Tweetsie Railroad Ghost Train
September 22–October 28
The Wild West transforms into a Ghost Town each night during Halloween season at Tweetsie Railroad. Daytime guests can enjoy all of the usual attractions, but once the sun goes down, the park undergoes a full makeover complete with costumed characters, decorations, music and Halloween-themed wonders. Younger children will love the dance parties, trick-or-treat stations and Tweetsie Palace Spooktacular show. Braver guests can dare to take an ominous journey on the Ghost Train, trek through the Haunted House and explore the Freaky Forest.
Viaduct Views and Terrific Treks
Travel 20 miles southwest of Boone to the Linn Cove Viaduct, a 7-mile section of the Blue Ridge Parkway bridge in Newland that hugs the face of Grandfather Mountain and offers quintessential fall foliage views. Revelers can park at the visitor center and follow one of many trails that offer breathtaking scenery of the viaduct and its stunning surroundings. Boone is home to countless hiking trails, many of which lead to magnificent waterfalls. Laurel Creek Falls, which are 30 feet tall and located near the Watauga River, are easy to reach and offer several swimming holes. For a moderately challenging hike, take the Boone Fork Trail in Julian Price Memorial Park to the 25-foot Hebron Falls, which is surrounded by enormous boulders.
Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster
Take your trip to the next level on the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster in Banner Elk. Tucked into the mountainside, North Carolina’s first alpine coaster follows the natural curves and ridges of the surrounding terrain. Race down a 3,160-foot track featuring three circular loops, a series of waves and several twists and turns, where you can reach a top speed of 27 mph if you’d like. If you’d rather coast a little slower, don’t fret! You control the speed with your own hand brake.
Wooly Worm Festival
October 21–22, 2023
One of the area’s most attended—and unique—festivals, Banner Elk’s Woolly Worm Festival is Western North Carolina’s version of Groundhog Day. Nearly 1,000 racing worms vie for the honor of predicting the region’s upcoming winter weather. The position of the longest dark bands on the winning worm supposedly indicates which dates of winter will be coldest. If the head end of the caterpillar is dark, the beginning of winter will be severe. If the tail end is dark, the end of winter will be cold. You read that right: Instead of Punxsutawney Phil seeing shadows, the markings of a fuzzy worm tell winter sports aficionados when to expect the best snowfall. In addition to the main woolly worm attraction, attendees can find all the trappings of a successful festival: food, vendors, music and rides.
Ready to plan your trip? Learn more about Boone at exploreboone.com.