A blog dedicated to the pursuit of all roads in the United States except Interstates
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Winding Stairs, Nantahala Gorge, Western NC
Here are two scenes from the Winding Stairs in western North Carolina. To make things confusing, there are two places with Winding Stairs in their name. This is not near Winding Stair Gap on US 64 and the Appalachian Trail.
This Winding Stairs is a narrow gravel road that begins in the bottom of the Nantahala Gorge on US Routes 19 and 74. It climbs out of the gorge through some incredible scenery. The fall colors were beautiful when I drove up this road on October 31, 2009. The view above is looking back down into the Nantahala Gorge about halfway up the mountain.
The view below explains why this road is called Winding Stairs. The road that you see far down the mountain is the same one that I was standing on to take the picture. You don't want to drive fast on this road. As you can see, there are no guard rails, and it can be a very loooong way down.
The road goes around a man-made lake near the top of the mountain and joins a paved road that will take you back down to 19/74.
This is a spectacular but very obscure scenic drive in western North Carolina.
I love to travel blue highways, or older roads off the Interstates. I'm retired and have plenty of time to pursue this. While traveling these roads, I fit in my other two passions: hiking and railroads. (you can't exactly stop on the Interstate to watch a train go by.) I try to take my drives as if I were still in the golden age of motor travel, like the family vacations of my youth. Whenever I travel, I attempt the recreate these sorts of trips as much as possible. I'm always on the lookout for artifacts from the time when car travel was much more relaxed: Stuckeys, Howard Johnsons, Hornes. I rarely drive more than 200 or 250 miles a day.
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