My wife & I are flying in and out of Washington 8th - 24th Sept (from the UK). We are staying a couple of days in the city, then plan to go by train to Durham (or some other place accessible by rail), hire a car, drive to the Gt Smokey NP (possibly staying at Ashville en route), then up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Shenandoah NP. We would drop the car back in Washington.
We enjoy the outdoors so prefer hiking and sightseeing to looking around towns, shopping, etc.
I would be grateful on any suggested intineraries (ie including how many days to allocate to each part).
Is Asheville worth stopping to see for a day?
Where are the best places to stop close by so that we can see most of the Park. Ideally we would look to hire a cabin (or yurts) for 2/3 nights at a time.
Finally is it better to book before hand or would the time of year allow us to book as we go along and thereby remain more flexible?