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Old 06-02-2023, 03:52 PM   #1
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Cosby TN to West Jefferson NC

I will be staying at Smoky Bear Campground on US Hwy 321 between Gatlinburg and Cosby, TN; and need to drive the motorhome with the Jeep toad to West Jefferson, NC.
Both a Truck Routing program and RV Trip Wizard tell me to take US Hwy 321 from Cosby, TN all the way to Boone, NC; then take Hwy 421 to Hwy 221. I am familiar with the route going from Boone to West Jefferson, but have never traveled US 321 through the mountains.
Does anyone know if US 321 is a good motorhome route to take for this trip? I am okay driving normal mountain roads and I assume that since this is a US highway it is alright for motorhomes. Just checking.
Thanks for any advice,
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Old 06-03-2023, 09:18 PM   #2
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It's a US highway so it must be alright I assume; so that is the way I'll go. If anyone knows anything to warn me about, that would be appreciated.
Thanks,
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Old 06-04-2023, 09:31 AM   #3
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I'm going in a reverse direction similar to your route. I will be heading from Butler TN, to Blountville, to Nashville. Using 321\421\i81. While you could likely take 321 all the way it would be a very long and curvy drive. Considering something similar to my route.....
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Old 06-04-2023, 10:24 AM   #4
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This drive is going to be challenging regardless of how you go.

US 321 going NE from Newport will be a long twisty drive. Just because it is designated a US highway doesn't mean it's easy (ex: look up US 129 - the Dragon). There will be a lot of town and city driving along US 321 too. I'd be inclined to us I-81 to go Northeast before exiting south to West Jefferson. This way would only be ~20 further than the US321 route. Almost 100 miles longer and much easier would be the I-40 - I-77 - US 421 route. There is a LOT less mountain driving going this way.
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Old 06-04-2023, 11:02 AM   #5
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Regardless of the route you take, you will be doing some driving on mountain roads. US321 will be twisty, but will also have some beautiful scenery alongside Watauga Lake. Another route would be I40 to I81 then US19E to US221.

Least challenging would be I40 east through Asheville to US 221 to Boone. There are also curves on that route as well.

Semi-trucks use these roads everyday. I don't think I would allow any of them to intimidate me. Just take your time and enjoy the drive.
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Old 06-04-2023, 11:04 AM   #6
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Thanks Randy and Andy. I-81 does look like a good route, but I can't decide (looking at Google maps) where to turn off and go south. Any advice on that?
And I agree, there is no good way to get there.

What do you think of this route: I-81 to I-26 to US-321 to Boone then US-421 to US-321 to West Jefferson? That knocks out the first half of driving on 321 although it looks like the second half is the mountain half.

I can take I-81 farther east, but I can't see where to get off to go south to West Jefferson.
Thanks for any insights,
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Old 06-04-2023, 06:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by znt1186 View Post
Regardless of the route you take, you will be doing some driving on mountain roads. US321 will be twisty, but will also have some beautiful scenery alongside Watauga Lake. Another route would be I40 to I81 then US19E to US221.

Least challenging would be I40 east through Asheville to US 221 to Boone. There are also curves on that route as well.

Semi-trucks use these roads everyday. I don't think I would allow any of them to intimidate me. Just take your time and enjoy the drive.
I appreciate the feedback from everyone. We have been to West Jefferson several times, but most always from Waynesville, NC and we would go I-40 and go up through Blowing Rock and Boone. I remembered one time we came from a wedding in Ohio and had a good mountainous drive, so I looked back at my notes from 2019.
So here is the route we took from Swanton, OH to West Jefferson, NC:
US-23 all the way from Swanton to I-26/US-23 across I-81 onto US-321 and went east to Boone where we got on US-421, then US-221 into West Jefferson.
I had forgotten or at least did not realize this was the route we had taken on that trip. I do remember that most of the route was very mountainous and very scenic. My notes say that we spent one night in Chillicothe, OH and one night at "Jessie Lea RV park" in Big Stone Gap, VA and it was very nice and it would be a good place to come back to. I do remember that going south on US-23 there was a very steep climb right at the border with VA.
So in conclusion, from my notes of the 2019 trip and the insight from Randy, Andy and Zeb; I will probably take US-321 the whole way from Cosby, TN and just take my time and enjoy. I don't mind mountain routes as long as I know they are driveable and not real dangerous like the Million Dollar Highway between Durango and Ouray, CO. I do not take the motorhome on it, although some people do.
Thanks and Happy Camping,
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Old 06-04-2023, 06:50 PM   #8
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Like 64 between Franklin and Cashiers, u donít want to be in a Moho on that road!
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Old 06-04-2023, 06:51 PM   #9
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I would go I81 to I26 toward Johnson City, then take 321 just past Johnson City to West Jefferson. I grew up in NC just north of Asheville and have been all over that area.

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Old 06-04-2023, 08:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Like 64 between Franklin and Cashiers, u donít want to be in a Moho on that road!
You are correct. In 2016, not knowing any better, I pulled a big 5th wheel on Hwy 64 from Highlands to Lake Toxaway. In my notes from that trip I noted, "we made it up here on 64, but it was not a pleasant drive".
I took that drive again last year in a Jeep, from Franklin to Lake Toxaway, and it scared me because of all the dump trucks flying along the road with only inches to spare between either the side of the road or my Jeep.
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Old 06-04-2023, 08:51 PM   #11
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Quote:
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I would go I81 to I26 toward Johnson City, then take 321 just past Johnson City to West Jefferson. I grew up in NC just north of Asheville and have been all over that area.

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This looks to be the easiest route and I am considering it. Probably depends on how I feel that day. Some days I find it relaxing to drive back roads and scenic drives, if they're not nerve wracking. Now that I remember that I have driven 321 before and noted it was okay, I'm not concerned about it's driveability.
Actually when I looked back at my notes I see that we stayed stayed for several days at the Lazy Llama Campground last year on Hwy 321 in Chuckey, TN. It was a delightful place that we would stop at again; I didn't realize that is where it was. We got to it from I-81 and didn't drive on 321 much (on our way to Maine).
Thanks,
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Old 06-05-2023, 05:30 PM   #12
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I completely understand the scenic drives. I much prefer that versus interestate depending on traffic on both.

Traffic on the back roads around Lenoir City, TN has really picked up. 321 through town can be crazy at times.

I see you are from TX. I will be heading to Aubrey TX in July to get Vroom installed for my slides.

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