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Good luck trying to find roadside parking in leaf season

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Fall weekends are especially busy in Nantahala and Pisgah national forests. Beautiful views are unlimited, but parking is not. (Photo credit: USDA)

It's that time of year -- leaf peepers flock to Western North Carolina in search of the best places to see fall foliage.

Fall weekends are especially busy in Nantahala and Pisgah national forests. Beautiful views are unlimited, but parking is not.

Once a trailhead parking lot is full, many drivers park on roadsides. While parking is permitted on the shoulder of some roads, vehicles must not obstruct traffic. Blocked roadways can lead to accidents and delay emergency responders.

Follow these tips when out and about:

  • Know before you go as cell service is limited.
  • Watch for pedestrians as you approach areas with parked cars.
  • Check for signs that restrict roadside parking.
  • Choose a spot that will not be damaged by tires on soft ground.
  • Do not park on a narrow shoulder with a steep drop off.
  • Park vehicles with all wheels off the road.
  • Check for oncoming traffic before exiting your vehicle.

Some areas are so popular it can be difficult to find legal parking. During peak leaf season, high volume times are typically on the weekends during midday, but well-known sites are busy from dawn to dusk. Plan several alternate locations and arrive in the early morning or late afternoon or visit on weekdays to avoid crowds.

Popular locations with limited parking include:

  • Black Balsam
  • Dry Falls
  • Graveyard Fields
  • Max Patch
  • Roan Highlands/Carvers Gap
  • Any place you've seen on social media

Click here to find new places to visit.

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