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North Carolina

A Wildflower Quest in the Mountains of Western North Carolina

Explore world-famous wildflower trails in the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, stopping to identify blossoms with a naturalist along the way.
Rating (5)
Program No. 23036RJ
6 days
Starts at
North Carolina

A Wildflower Quest in the Mountains of Western North Carolina

Explore world-famous wildflower trails in the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, stopping to identify blossoms with a naturalist along the way.
6 days
Starts at
Program No. 23036 RJ
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6 days
5 nights
15 meals
5B 5L 5D
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At a Glance

The Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway are abloom in spring and fall with countless species of wildflowers, just blowing in the breeze and awaiting your discovery. With an expert naturalist, learn to identify the diverse flora along creekside trails, through hardwood forests, on Appalachian peaks and in open, grassy fields. Linger in sunny meadows as you watch for butterflies and learn about bird migration, and breathe it all in as you enjoy 360-degree mountain views.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Walk along well-known wildflower trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park such as Kephart Prong and Baxter Creek.
  • During trailside lunches, learn about flower identification and the history and environments of the areas you’ll explore from your expert naturalist.
  • In the evening, enjoy live local music performances and presentations on topics such as explorers Bartram and Michaux and the local Cherokee peoples.

General Notes

The Retreat Difference: This unique, often basic and no-frills experience at a Road Scholar Retreat includes opportunities for early morning exercise, interaction with the local community for insight into local life, an authentic farm-to-table or locally sourced meal, a live performance or event, and a value-priced single room.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Great Smoky Mountains, A Visual Journey
by Deedee Niederhouse-Mandrell, Lee Mandrell
The Mandrell husband-and-wife photography team feature remarkable photographs of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in this new coffee table book. Their images span all four seasons and show the wonderful park's awe-inspiring sight.
Travels, and Other Writings
by William Bartram
Hailed as the "finest-looking, longest-lasting editions ever made" this edition of the early American naturalist's work includes his four-year-long journey through the southern colonies in the late 1700s.
Scientific Papers of Asa Gray
by Asa Gray
A posthumous two-volume collection of lesser-known reviews, essays and biographical sketches by the influential American botanist. First published in 1889.
Saints At The River
by Ron Rash
Few are better at writing Southern life than Ron Rash. In his second novel, a 12-year-old girl drowns in the Tamassee River. As her hometown is thrown into the national spotlight, the girl's parents demand that her body be recovered. Environmentalists are convinced the operation would cause permanent damage to the river. Winner of the Weatherford Award for Best Novel.
Our Southern Highlanders
by Horace Kephart
A classic book of history and folklore of the mountaineers of the southern Appalachians. Kephart is considered the premier folklorist and historian of the area. First published in the 1910s.
Newcomb's Wildflower Guide
by Lawrence Newcomb
A classic identification guide, which uses a simple dichotomous key for identification. With 1,075 mostly black-and-white drawings, it covers the Northeast and Great Lakes region, south to Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and most of Tennessee.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Map
by National Geographic Maps
A durable, detailed map of the North Carolina national park, shown at a scale of 1:70,000.
A Roadside Guide to the Geology of the Great Smoky Mountains
by Harry L. Moore
For those interested in rocks, this is a nice companion for a trip to the Great Smokies. It offers a wealth of geological information, all based on what a visitor can see with his or her own eyes.
2 Reviews
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5 Average

This is a delightful way to learn about wildflowers. Angela, Lindsey and Michael are great guides to this wonderful world.


Wonderful wildflowers (I got lucky and came at the ideal time in a peak year) in a variety of ecosystems. Great scenery. Lodging in a good location in attractive setting (but note that you can't have wine on their premises, as would have been nice in the evening). Naturalist did wonderful informal nature interpretation, but less "instruction" than described in program materials and no "lectures". Group leaders bent over backwards to make this enjoyable for all participants. Exceptionally congenial group of participants and the weather gods were good to us, none of the forecast rain materializing during our stay. Very good talks on park history and wildflowers. Buffet offered a lot of death-by-cholesterol food and was unprepared to respond to stated vegetarian preference (an option offered by Road Scholar), but had a salad bar option each night. I'd enthusiastically recommend this program.

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