If you ever get the chance, as we did a couple weeks ago, to drive down even just a small portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway, DO IT! Every mile is worth it!
The Parkway is a National Park centered on a two-lane highway which stretches over 460 miles through North Carolina and Virginia along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the Park you will find gorgeous scenery everywhere you look, whether the road is nestled under the tree canopy, winding through one of the myriads of tunnels, or perched atop a 6000 foot ridge. But, the Blue Ridge Parkway is more than just a road with lovely overlooks where you can pull off and take photos.
Discover more about what the Park has to offer by way of cultural centers, picnic areas, hiking trails, etc. by visiting the official website:
Park Directory & Travel Planner – available for online viewing or PDF download
Also available… a Mobile App for planning your journey and navigating the Park
ALL of it!
Really, see all of it you can possibly see in the time you have.
Search for the wildflowers and take the time to get up-close-and-personal with them. Different things are in bloom at various times throughout the year, so several trips to the Parkway are probably required in order to visit all the little pretties that make their appearances along the road and hiking trails.
Of course, this is one of the best reasons to drive along the Parkway. The trees are usually at their showiest starting somewhere in mid-October.
Obviously, the best views are from the overlook areas provided all along the Parkway. Please take the time to stop and enjoy the scenery and fresh mountain air. Use caution when pulling out from the overlooks back onto the highway. Many of the access points have blind corners.
It is allowable to pull over onto the shoulder of the road even at a non-designated overlook unless it is posted as a no parking area. Just pull completely off the road and be cautious when re-entering the highway.
The Parkway is free to enter! That’s a great deal!
There are no gas stations directly on the Parkway, so be sure you have a full tank before you start. Several access points on/off the Parkway lead to nearby communities with filling stations, stores, restaurants, etc., but these access points are limited. Please plan accordingly.
List of available exits for gasoline
Packing your own picnic is your best option for meals along the Parkway, and it is a money-saver too. Take advantage of the many picnic areas provided along the road and enjoy a hike along a trail to work off some of those calories before getting back into the car.
Follow the speed limit of 45 mph!
This is a very curvy road and is intended to be taken slowly in order to observe all the scenery along the way. Also, during nice weather, many motorcyclists enjoy driving this road, so keep your speed down and keep a watch out them.
Take your time
Whatever you time you have allotted to enjoy the Parkway, make the most of it by going slowly.
Visit points of interest
There are different kinds of attractions throughout the length of the Parkway including hiking trails, museums, historical sites, cultural centers, unique stores, resorts and inns.
One of the easy stops we like to make is at the Pisgah Inn, (mile post 408) which has a first come-first served seating policy at its restaurants which serves 3 meals a day.
The Country Store at Pisgah (same turn-off) offers:
–Snack Items & Drinks
No matter what time of year I have ever stopped at the Country Store, I find something pretty in bloom tucked away somewhere within its casual landscaping. This past mid-September trip was not an exception. A mountain ash was on proud display with its crimson clusters, and a quaint vignette of pale blue wildflowers against a backdrop of lichen-encrusted tree trunks was a sweet discovery on the hillside behind the trash can. Yes, the trash can!
On our way home from Asheville, where we had stopped to purchase apples, we took a little detour and drove the Parkway for a couple of hours. Here are a few of the photos we took on our quick little trip.