Roadside parking – be a hero not a hazard

Fall weekends are especially busy on the 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.

Illegal to park in road G.S. 20-161(A)Follow these tips to be a hero and not a hazard:

  • 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 that it can be difficult to find legal parking. This is especially true 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.

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

Explore our website to find new places to visit: 

Spot the heroes and the hazards in this video captured on NC Highway 261 near Carvers Gap during peak rhododendron bloom in the spring: 

bad parking app district

Parking vehicles in the roadway creates a serious safety hazard. 

The NC GS 20-161 (pdf) explains in detail roadside parking rules.