We have taken the Blue Ridge Parkway South from Roanoke VA but this time we went north from Ashville North Carolina. It was Dec '09 and freezing, but so pretty to see all the icicles hanging from the rocks. Just beware as at times some of the parkway can be closed due to bad road conditions. We made it about 2 hours north of Ashville before we had to turn around due to a segment of the parkway being closed.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most beautiful rides I have ever been on. About 450 miles of back country road. The posted speed limit is 35 mph and I suggest you pay heed. The deer will take you ou, besides why would you want to hurry through a ride like this?
On the National Register of Historic Places, this quaint very American, budget restaurant serves excellent meals. The restaurant is built on an interesection between 3 different counties. The kitchen is in one county, the cashier in another, the tables in another. I had the meatloaf lunch and my wife had the barbecue. Yummm. Very scenic Linville Gorge nearby, we went to Linville Falls and then came here.
One of my favourite things while on the Blue Ridge Parkway was stopping to enjoy and photograph the numerous wildflowers along the edge of the road. I don’t know all the names, but I loved the bright red Bee Balm and the striking Turk’s Cap Lily.
Apparently there are over 1,000 species of wildflower here, as the high rainfall, rich soils, varied topography, and moderate climate provide an environment where many species can coexist together. Well, I didn’t count how many we saw, so I can’t tell you if that’s accurate – but there are a lot!
Of course it is illegal to collect any plant or plant part within the park, so please just take photos and leave the flowers themselves for everyone else to enjoy.
This has been called “America’s favourite drive” and is apparently the most visited national park in the US. It’s easy to see why, as it’s easily accessible and the scenery can be appreciated to some extent from behind the wheel of your car. But it would be a real shame I think to drive the 469 miles between Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks and never leave your vehicle. Likewise, you could do enough of the drive in a single day to get a flavour of the region, but again that would be a mistake. We spent a good three days exploring the length of the Parkway from the border with Tennessee in the south to Lynchburg in Virginia in the north, and there was certainly plenty to keep us occupied for that long, including a number of attractions just off the route such as the museum in Cherokee, Chimney Rock, Grandfather Mountain and Mabry Mill (in Virginia). And even if you don’t want to deviate off the Parkway, there are loads of overlooks which allow you to have a picnic, go for a walk (long or short), or just enjoy the wonderful views across the mountains.
We found the North Carolina part of the Parkway to be the most dramatically scenic and spent more time there, which is why I’ve included it on this page rather than my Virginia one.
Most of the facilities along the Parkway, such as picnic areas, campgrounds, and visitor centres, are open from mid May through October, as are the lodges and restaurants. Unlike other National Parks, there is no fee to travel the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Blue Ridge Parkway starts near Cherokee North Carolina and ends in Fort Royal , Virginia. It is a scenic highway through the mountains. If you start driving it, don't expect to get anywhere fast, since you will probably stop every few miles and take pictures!!
Some places to visit from the Parkway:
Mount Mitchell, the highest mountain in North Carolina. It has a tower you can climb on the top.
Grandfather Mountain ( near Boone) has a nice hiking trail to the top , complete with ladders you have to climb and ropes to hold on to. Grandfather Mountain also has Scottish Highland Games each year in July and the Mile High bridge ( if you are not afraid of heights!)
Linville Viaduct: a very cool bridge , if you are interested in engineering. There is also a nice trail to a waterfall.
Cherokee at the southern end of the Parkway is a touristy town with lots of Cherokee Indian souvenirs , Powwows, and a Cherokee museum.
The most relaxing and beautiful car trip you might ever take. Maximum speed is 45 mph. The Parkway is 469 miles long from one end to the other. It connects Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and Great Smoky National Park in North Carolina. It is free of billboards and offers fabulous views. There are many turn-outs for viewing .
Plan to spend 3 to 5 days if you drive the complete distance, and average 30mph. There are accomodations near ,but off the parkway. There are some overnight facilities at Peaks of Otter Lodge, cabins at Rocky Knob, anda lodge at Mt. Pisgah.
It is a simple pleasure to sit by a waterfall in the afternoon and zone out to the splashing sound of water. I was hypnotized, gazing into this pool. It's so easy to get wrapped up in complicated issues and domestic situations that don't really matter in the bigger picture. I find that this place keeps me real...
Last week my dear friends Sarah, her boyfriend Tommy, and Bethany came to visit me for a couple days here in Asheville. We decided to go to the Looking Glass Rock overlook, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, to cross the road and hike the trail back to a tranquil waterfall. Here are some of the pictures...
The trek into the woods is short and mild...sometimes it is a very popular location...but that day we had it mainly to ourselves!
From the Smokey Mountains and Ashville, take the Blue Ridge Parkway from North Carolina into Virginia.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles of two lane scenic highway which extends over the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It has to be among the most scenic highways in America. Along the parkway, there are several interesting places to view restored villages, go hiking, or visit local shops and wineries. If time does not permit the leisurly drive on the entire parkway, this road runs parallel to Interstate 81, so that is an option.
The Blue Ridge Parkway runs through the state and leads to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Driving the entire Parkway would take days as it is 360 miles long, has a speed limit of 35 mph max and more places to stop and hike or just gape at the view than one could imagine. But driving at least a portion of this famous road is a treat, even on a cloudy summers day when fog and haze mysteriously cover portions of the mountains rising in the distance.
Looking at the virtual tours available for the Blue Ridge National Parkway, I'm pretty sure that I have identified the location of this picture as the Craggy Gardens Visitor's Center which is near the Craggy Dome Overlook . You can tell that this picture was taken in 1959 - that is not an antique or vintage car in the parking lot - it was new when the picture was taken.
Not only is the background and the architecture of the building about the same as in the virtual tour, but both my picture and the current picture both have a sign out front which mentions a wayside museum.
June and July are the months to visit for the Catawba rhododendron and other late-blooming wildflowers. That's when we were there, but I don't have any pictures of the flowers. Because of the elevation, bloom is much later here, so you can see the violets, blackberry, Mayapple and Turkscap lily even in June.
There are two trails from here - the Craggy Gardens Trail (first portion is self-guiding nature trail) which is 0.84 miles of moderate difficulty and the Craggy Pinnacle Trail (to panoramic view) 0.73 miles also of moderate difficulty.
This heath bald is only one of many throughout the Southern Appalachian Mountains; the name refers to the bald appearance of the mountaintop, which is in reality covered with grasses or mountain shrubbery instead of trees so it appears at a lighter color from a distance.
When Bob and I were first married (in 1959) we drove down to his first duty station via the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is one of the slides I took, which I had digitized.
I found it hard to get pictures that were different enough from each other to be worth the film - such endless vistas of blue mountains and valleys.
Since then we've been on the coast or the beach on a sailboat, so we have not really been back except when the parkway was closed for the winter.
This is an excellent road for sightseeing. It stretches all of the way from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina all of the way to Shenandoah National Park in northern Virginia. It has a speed limit of 35 miles per hour and does not carry commercial traffic. The road travels on a ridge for most of its length. This allows for some rewarding views, which are accessible at numerous pullouts and information areas. There is potential for hiking and camping in many places. Please see my travelogue for a little more detail about the southern portion of the road.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a road designed for leisure travel along the ridge of the Apalachian Mountains. The Parkway starts at the Shenadoa NP in Virginia and ends after 469 miles at the Smoky Mountains NP. 240 miles of it are located in North Carolina.
Along the way there are great views and some historic sites.
Some pictures in our travelogue.