The Blue Ridge Parkway swings south from Asheville through Transylvania County on the approach to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, though you’ll save an hour or more by following the I-40 freeway to the junction with US-19, which links up with the south end of the parkway. This stretch of US-19, winding through the Maggie Valley over the foothills of the Great Smokies, is a very pretty drive, and absolutely packed with roadside Americana—miniature golf courses, trout farms, souvenir shops, lookout towers alongside pancake houses, BBQ shacks . . . you name it, it’s here.
For years, the biggest and best of many great places to stop in Maggie Valley was Ghost Town in the Sky, a real, old Appalachian “ghost town”-themed amusement park, with roller coasters, bumper cars, and all the usual suspects, high on the side of the Great Smoky Mountains. Alas, the park closed in 2003, and has been for sale since.