HWY 25-70 a scenic, tough rock slide detour

By: Stephen McLamb Email
By: Stephen McLamb Email

HOT SPRINGS, NC (WVLT) -- The last time a rock slide closed I-40, most traffic was detoured on Highway 25-70 through the mountains to Asheville.

This time there's a better solution because I-26 now exists connecting Asheville to Johnson City.

That allows travelers to take I-81 up to Johnson City and get on 26 and head east to Asheville.

It's about 45 minutes to an hour longer, and that has some travelers giving Highway 25/70 a try.

One thing is, it is beautiful, as the leaves change in the mountains.

But Highway 25/70 presents problems you won't see on the interstate.

And traveling on highway 25/70 presents problems for motorists they won't see on the interstate.

"Actually there wasn't any minuses. The scenery is beautiful. We've never been on this road before and we're glad we found it," says Anny Autunno who is using Highway 25-70 as a detour to Asheville.

Traveling the 67 miles between Newport and Asheville, North Carolina can be seen as a beautiful view for many tourist wanting to avoid the I-40 rock slide.

Once the main freeway to get to Asheville, Interstate 40 and it's four lanes, has long since taken it's place.

But for Jim Walker, and many big rigs, 25/70s a no-go.

"And then we get to this point and no go, weight restriction. It just would be nice to have that information," says Jim Walker who is traveling in his RV to Asheville.

Weight limits have prompted state highway officials to keep heavy trucks from using the old highway as a detour so trucks are having to turn around to avoid bridges that were built decades ago.
Travelers also face other obstacles.

"And I was told, well yeah, it's windy, it's a two lane road," says Walker.

Down the road in usually quiet Hot Springs, North Carolina, traffic's been abnormally busy, especially on Sunday.

"Traffic was backed up as far as you could see. They had the fire department moving everybody through," says Lisa Loflin, owner of the Sandwich Shop in Hot Springs, NC.

And with increased traffic, traveling over the mountains on a two lane road during the upcoming winter months is tough enough even for the locals.

"The way it gets here it will probably be pretty rough. I know earlier this year I got caught in snow over here," says Nicole Gilbert who works at Hillbilly Market in Hot Springs, NC.

So it may be a scenic drive, but some are saying it's just not worth it.

"Ah, we're just going to go back to the interstate and take the long winded route," says Walker.

A couple of things to remember.

It is windy, so slow down and be careful on turns.

There are places to pass, but they are limited.

And remember, Highway 25/70 goes through some higher elevations.

Snow and ice are possible when the temperatures dip.

So watch out for slippery spots.

And remember, weekends, traffic may be really slow as people take drives to check out the fall colors.


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