I just returned from a quick trip to lovely Asheville N. C. On the return trip, we drove for a couple of hours on the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway. It was a glorious fall day, perfect for enjoying the panoramic views along the parkway. You can see why they are called “Blue.”
This year the Blue Ridge Parkway celebrates 81 years of scenic glory for the millions of visitors that have traveled its winding road. Began in 1935 at Cumberland Knob, near the North Carolina and Virginia state line, the Parkway was born from a grand vision. This special roadway was created not only as an economic stimulus during the tough post depression years but also would eventually link two great national parks, Virginia’s Shenandoah and the Great Smokies of North Carolina and Tennessee.
The 469 mile Parkway was only recently completed in 1987, not that long ago. Now considered a national treasure, more than 850 million visitors have enjoyed the Blue Ridge, since the Parkway began counting in 1939. The goal of the Parkway’s construction crews back then, and the National Park Service for today and into the future, is to continue to preserve the natural surroundings, magnificent views, historic structures, and fragile ecosystems that make up this unique and beautiful stretch of America. It truly is an engineering masterpiece of roadwork.
For those interested in staying at a lodge along the Parkway there are three lodges available: Peaks of Otter (Mile Post (MP) 86), Doughton Park (MP241.1), and Mt. Pisgah (MP408). Cabins are available at Rocky Knob (MP175). A number of visitor centers are located along the Parkway and some have exhibits and programs for visitors to enjoy. Although restrooms are scattered along the route they are not plentiful so take advantage of any you come across.
If you enjoy camping nine campgrounds are available to pitch a tent or park an RV. Campgrounds offer restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables and grills. Most campgrounds have hiking trails for campers to enjoy. Some campgrounds offer Ranger talks and campfire programs on the weekends. Campgrounds are open early May through October and run $16.00 to $19.00 per night.
For 24-hour Blue Ridge Parkway information, including road conditions, call (828) 298-0398 or visit www.nps.gov/blri. For information on campgrounds visit, www.recreation.gov , or call (877) 444-6777.