226A, the last Alternate Route in NC, leads from Marion, NC to the Blue Ridge Parkway with numerous switchbacks and steep twisting turns. There are approximately 194 curves in the 12-mile loop. There are lots of corners so sharp you only see about 2 car lengths ahead. At the top of the ride are restaurants, shops and hotels. The Switzerland Inn is one of the best. There are absolutely incredible sweeping views of the Catawba River Valley and Blue Ridge mountain ranges. The Diamondback – NC 226A has a smooth road surface; most of the curves are slightly banked, and absolutely beautiful scenery! It climbs significantly and has many sharp corners. It has some great spots to get some roadside pictures and relax from the intense ride up. Beautiful scenery for an early Sunday morning ride before everyone stirs. Keep a watch out for snow and ice in cold weather.
The leaves are starting to change with some pretty good colors already near Grandfather Mountain and the Lynn Cove Viaduct. Peak usually comes around October 17 so there is still a lot of green up high from the Blue Ridge Parkway, but there are spots where the colors are beginning to show.
Now is the time to start preparing for those cold snaps. Be sure to bring some warm clothing on your travels. While October is usually dry, fronts coming through can bring rain and you’ll want to be ready for whatever comes. It also tends to be a bit more windy. Beware of wet leaves on the road once they start really falling. They are very slick and may cause a slide if you hit them in a curve.
If you are planning a trip through the mountains of Western North Carolina, don’t miss the Diamondback Motorcycle and Sportscar Route as it winds from Marion, NC to the Parkway at Milepost 334. Over 190 curves in a fun and fast 12-mile ride climbing 2000 feet and dropping 10 to 15 degrees in temperature.
At the top of the route is The Switzerland Inn and the Diamondback Motorcycle Lodge – a fun place for groups to “camp” without camping inconveniences. The Lodge features 8 comfortable rooms with common areas and covered motorcycle parking.
The Switzerland Inn has spacious, newly renovated rooms and suites (many with spectacular mountain-valley views) plus two patio bars and the full service Chalet Restaurant. The Chalet Restaurant serves gourmet favorites and classic breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.