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  Blue Ridge
Parkway

 

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A drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway should be slow paced and relaxing. For most of the Parkway the speed limit is 45 MPH.  A stop at almost any overlook or trail will reveal spectacular views and history located along the Parkway. The Parkway meanders 469 miles between Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks. Enjoy the views, but watch the road.  The Parkway itself is a National Park.

Overlooks, trails, picnic and camping areas, and several of developed areas await visitors who have time to explore. Give yourself at least 7-10, up to 14 days to truly enjoy this beautiful road and all the recreational activities it has to offer.  There is no fee to travel the Blue Ridge Parkway and entrances and exits are available at intersections with many major highways. There are no gas stations along the parkway, however you'll find gas near most exits.

Picnic table with a view along the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is the most visited of the National Parks and usually you will see other visitors enjoying the views.  During weekends in October, the Parkway can become quite crowded.  In 2010, the Parkway celebrated its 75th anniversary of the start of construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Construction began on September 11, 1935 near Cumberland Knob in North Carolina.  There is a marker along the Parkway that designates the point of the ground breaking.  The Blue Ridge Parkway took 52 years to complete, as the final seven mile stretch being finished around Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina in 1987.

We visited the parkway a few times and truly enjoyed the Parkway and hope to return again.  I'd recommend exploring the Parkway to everyone, however, learn all the hidden gems along the Parkway.  We watched people stop at an overlook with no view and pull off disappointed.  Unfortunately they did not realize the trail leaving the overlook took visitors a short distance to a spectacular view.  Don't just drive it, explore it!

 


Outdoor Activities

The Blue Ridge Parkway is designed as a "drive awhile and stop awhile" experience.

Overlooks, picnic areas, campgrounds, visitor centers, hiking trails, and other areas of interest are available along the road. The best way to experience this place is to take advantage of these opportunities. Short trails offer the chance to get away from the road and see the Blue Ridge up close and personal, even if just for a few minutes. Longer trails are also available for the more adventurous. Bicycling, photography, bird watching, and practically any other responsible outdoor activity is available for the Parkway visitor.  If you do bike the parkway, realize the many ascents and descents.  This is not a level highway with many curves and no shoulders.

Hundreds of overlooks allow opportunities to see spectacular views, to catch a glimpse of a sunrise or sunset, have a picnic, or just enjoy the view across the mountains and valleys of the region.  The views are truly breathtaking!  Use our website to help in planning your visit along the Blue Ridge Parkway or look below for other sites worth checking out in planning your Parkway visit.


Food and Lodging

Four lodges along the Parkway provide opportunities for overnight accommodations from spring through the fall foliage season. Many Parkway travelers may find that getting off of the road and into the local towns and communities in the region is an enjoyable option for lodging as well.  There are camping opportunities along the Parkway as well as just off the Parkway as well.  Look below for more information on campgrounds along the Parkway.

In addition to lodging, there is a seasonal restaurant at Mabry Mill (MP 176).

The Peaks of Otter Lodge is located twenty miles north of Roanoke, VA at Milepost 86. Phone 1-800-542 5927 for reservations. This is the only year round lodging on the Parkway and offers dining, trails, fishing and seasonal interpretive programs at the park amphitheater.  In late 2010/early 2011 the NPS was in negotiations for

Rocky Knob Cabins is open from May through the fall foliage season. Phone (540) 593-3503 for reservations. Located at Milepost 174 near Meadows of Dan, Va, these are small, rustic cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the early days of Parkway construction.

Pisgah Inn is open from early spring through the fall foliage season. Phone (828) 235 8228 for reservations. Located south of Asheville, NC at Milepost 408.6, Pisgah Inn is the highest elevation lodging on the Blue Ridge Parkway at over 5,000 feet.


Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail runs parallel to the parkway for 97 miles in Virginia, allowing many hiking opportunities.  Check out the guide books Appalachian Trail Guide to Central Virginia and Hikes in the Virginias (Exploring the Appalachian Trail) for more information on the AT along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Sign for the Appalachian Trail along the Blue Ridge Parkway


Price Lake

Enjoy the day on beautiful Price Lake and soak in the warm North Carolina sunshine. Visit Price Lake Boat Dock and rent small row boats and canoes for relaxing, fishing or cruising around this beautiful Lake.

Price Lake in autumn

Mount Mitchell State Park

At MP 355 is Mount Mitchell State Park.  Take a drive up to the top of the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.  Great hiking trails, food and camping is available at the state park.

Mount Mitchell summit


Camping on the Parkway

Camping is a traditional and enjoyable way for families to enjoy their National Parks. On the Blue Ridge Parkway, nine campgrounds serve visitors from early May through the fall color season. Camping is $16 for all campgrounds.

Otter Creek (MP 61) is located at the Parkway's lowest elevation near Virginia's James River.

Peaks of Otter (MP 86) near the Peaks of Otter Lodge, Abbott Lake, the restored 1930s Johnson Farm, and a magnificent trail system.

Roanoke Mountain (MP 120) with easy access to Virginia's Explore Park and the largest city along the Parkway corridor.

Rocky Knob (MP 167) with easy access to Rockcastle Gorge and just nine miles from Mabry Mill.

Doughton Park (MP 241) near Basin Cove, Bluffs Lodge, and an extensive trail system

Julian Price Park (MP 297) near Boone and Blowing Rock, North Carolina and close to the Moses Cone Estate. This is the Parkway's largest campground and reservations can be made for portions of this campground on-line at RECREATION.gov or by calling 1-877-444 6777.

Linville Falls (MP 316) on the Linville River and with access to the trail system into Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. Reservations can be made for portions of this campground on-line at RECREATION.gov or by calling 1-877-444 6777.

Crabtree Meadows (MP 340) near the Crabtree Falls Trail and within fifteen miles of Mt. Mitchell State Park.

Mt. Pisgah (MP 408) is the highest Parkway campground at almost 5,000 feet elevation. Formerly part of the Vanderbilt Estate and near the US Forest Service's Cradle of Forestry site. Reservations can be made for portions of this campground on-line at RECREATION.gov or by calling 1-877-444 6777.


Other websites featuring the Blue Ridge Parkway

Beside our website there are other websites that are dedicated to the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Here are some other websites to help plan your visit:

http://www.nps.gov/blri/index.htm - Official site from the National Park Service.

http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/ - Site from the Blue Ridge Parkway Association.

http://www.virtualblueridge.com/ - Virtual Blue Ridge website.

http://www.byways.org/explore/byways/2280/ - Website from the National Scenic Byways Program

http://www.virginia.org/site/features.asp?featureid=183 - From the Virginia is for Lovers website

Blue Ridge Parkway info from VisitNC.com - From the Visit NC website

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Ridge_Parkway - Info from Wikipedia

http://www.blueridgeskyline.com/ - Info on both the BRP and Skyline Drive in Shenandoah NP.

http://www.romanticasheville.com/BlueRidgeParkway.htm - From Romantic Asheville website

http://www.blueridgeparkwayusa.com/ - Website offering a free guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway

Although I am from the Central New York Region, the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of my favorite places to visit. I hope that our experiences on the Parkway and this website is beneficial in planning your parkway adventure.   I wish we lived closer to the Blue Ridge Parkway so we could explore this special place more often! 

CNY Hiking HOME PAGE Virginia BRP Highlights North Carolina BRP Highlights

Developed Areas Along the Parkway

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Shenandoah National Park Appalachian Trail Parkway Closures from NPS

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