Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip: What to Do and How Far You Should Go

By Alice Ross | NORTH AMERICA

Feb 21

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the United States’ most picturesque roads. Running 469 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, it is definitely one of the best places to take a road trip in the country. There are many stunning mountain views, attractive green landscapes, and rich wildlife and pristine nature along the way. So, there’s no doubt experiencing Blue Ridge Parkway road trip is one of the best adventures for couples, family, and a group of friends to have.

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Aside from driving, there are you can also a lot of hiking trails that can be explored if you are in for some trekking. You can find stops along the trail that have parks and picnic tables, along with bathrooms and other facilities that will make your Blue Ridge Parkway road trip comfortable.

The Blue Ridge Parkway meant to be a tourist attraction, but it’s also a great route to take if you want to experience exceptional beauty when you have to go point A to B.

What to See on Your Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip

Extending from Rockfish Gap in Virginia going to Great Smoky Mountains National Park of North Carolina, Blue Ridge Parkway covers 469 miles of picturesque views and mountain fields. Although it is just a couple of hours away from cities such as Atlanta and Washington DC, driving here will make you feel like you are far from the busy capitals.

a guy looking to mountains

The best time to have your Blue Ridge Parkway road trip is probably the months of September and October when you can see the forests neighboring the parkway gust into beautiful autumn colors.

Here are some of the highlights you can find on your trip:

1. Ravens Roost

Ravens Roost is located only past mile 10 of the Parkway. Here you can see some pleasing sights of Torry Mountain and Shenandoah Valley. Ravens Roost is located over a cliff that a lot of tourists use for hang-gliding and rock-climbing. It is also a good place to have a picnic.

2. Sherando Lake Campground

Only 4 ½ miles away from the parkway, Virginia’s Sherando Lake Campground is a great camping spot for both locals and tourists. For people who are looking for some comfort, Sherando has access to showers and toilets, plus beautiful views of the lake.

Sherando Lake Campground

3. The Appalachian Trail

Easily accessible from different views and parking spaces in Virginia, The Appalachian Trail allows hikers, both beginners and professionals, to discover the natural magnificence of the area. The trail part in southern Virginia has long, secluded stretches with stunning views.

4. Moses H. Cone Memorial Park

From miles 292 to 295, this part boasts 25 miles of snaky trails for hikers and horseback riders. There is a luminous Colonial Revival mansion called Flat Top Manor that was built in the year 1901, which serves as the focus of this gorgeous country estate and now has the Parkway Craft Center.

5. Linville Falls

Linville Falls

Driving at milepost 316.4 marks the area of Linville Gorge which has diverse walking trails of different distances. You can enjoy the water flowing through the rocky falls, but it is best to enjoy these falls from a safe distance! There is a local lore that says there were local Native Americans who executed prisoners by pushing them off the falls.

6. Mount Mitchell State Park

Starting at mile 355, the first state park in North Carolina, Mount Mitchell State Park, and was established in the year 1915 to keep the fir trees in the area from illegal loggers. The park has Mount Mitchell, which is the tallest mountain in the eastern part of the country at approximately 7,000 ft. The Black Mountains offers some of the hardest hiking trails in the Blue Ridge, which includes Mount Mitchell Trail and Colbert's Ridge Trail.

7. Craggy Gardens

Flanked by miles 363.4 and 369.6, this area is about 3,500 feet higher in altitude compared to neighboring Asheville and has exposed rock and high peaks offering splendid sights of the Appalachian Mountains in the south from afar. Throughout the summer, purple and pink rhododendron covers the Craggies in what is usually known as "Miracle on the Mountain."

Craggy Gardens

8. Looking Glass Rock

At mile 417, this place is a known place among those who like rock climbers. This place gets its name from the sunlight that reflects off its granite face. It also offers picturesque sights of the parkway and the highlands in Transylvania County from the top.

9. Devil's Courthouse

Situated at mile 422.4 on the west part of Pisgah National Forest, this place has some of the most remarkable sights of the Blue Ridge Mountains from the top of the mountain. According to the legend of Cherokee, this cave is home to a giant called Jutaculla.

10. Richland Balsam

Located at Mile 431, Richland Balsam and the surrounding trails of this place is another must-check-out place for when you are taking you Blue Ridge Parkway road trip. There are a lot of the animals and plants in this place that can just survive in the South at high altitudes. The opulent trail of Fraser Fir trees which adds to the alfresco experience at the place.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is not just a road – it is a gorgeous journey that lures visitors to discover a 469-mile entry to the rich cultural heritage of the country which includes Cherokee traditions, crafts, music, nature, and agriculture.

Rules and Driving Tips

In order to fully enjoy your Blue Ridge Parkway road trip, follow these tips and make the most of your experience.

-The speed limit in Blue Ridge is normally 45Mph. The Parkway was built for leisure drive, so you may want to take your time and experience the splendor of this special location.

-Interpretative road signs carrying the powder horn and squirrel gun symbol are dotted different views and historic locations throughout the road.

road and trees

-It is not necessary to be an overlook or even make a stop in order to enjoy the setting.

-Parking is allowed along road shoulders unless stated otherwise.

-Pick a place where you are able to pull your car entirely off-the-road in order to not risk yourself or others. Watch out for wildlife. There might be some deer and other animals that may crush in your windshield.

-Be careful when driving during rain and frog. Make sure to slow down and keep the headlines on all the time. Putting an extra caution will help guarantee that extreme weather only temporarily spoils the attractive views.

-In case of a road accident, may it be you or strangers, please notify a Park Ranger at a proximate campground visitor center or call PARKWATCH at +1-800-727-5928.

Blue Ridge Parkway is an amazing road that everyone will surely enjoy. Having a Blue Ridge Parkway road trip is definitely considered as an American dream. It is surely breathtaking and worth every ounce of gas.

Hopefully, this article encouraged you to plan your own Blue Ridge Parkway road trip. If you have other suggestions on where to go in Blue Ridge or any questions that we might know the answer to, let us know in the comment box below!

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Alice Ross, a long-term traveler who left the corporate world to travel the world. I chose to live life on my own phase and live day by day while immersing myself in new experiences, new knowledge, and new people in a different walk of life I met along the way.

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