Blue Ridge Parkway | Ants in Pants

Blue Ridge Parkway

Русская версия   Stretching from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, Blue Ridge Parkway is a road of almost 700 kms of fascinating views high in the Appalachian mountains. The road is a great opportunity to breathe fresh mountain air, enjoy the views, and see numerous plant and animal species (e.g. 54 mammals!). On the way you may also see old Appalachian farm buildings, trail cabins and other out-of-date miracles, also hike, camp, rent lodgings, fish, swim, or simply drive. The Parkway has been the most visited unit of the National Park System every year since 1946 (except one 1949) being quite an old way of having fun:
Blue Ridge

The name of the road obviously comes from the colour of the mountains: something between grey and blue (as we saw it, although it probably depends on the weather).

The best season to visit it is autumn: try to choose a sunny day to enjoy colourfulness of Appalachian forests. The roadway is not maintained in the winter, and sections which pass over especially high elevations and through tunnels are often impassable and therefore closed from late fall through early spring. The parkway is connected to many important roads and you will see detour signs in advance: they take care of their tourists (while the parkway is still free!). When we came there in late April part of the road was also closed due to rain and fog. The speed limit is never higher than 45 mph (72 km/h), so just drive and enjoy:

On your way you may have many stops: after every 5-15 kilometers there is a scenic view with the possibility to read about the view, take a picture, or simply have a picnic. In case you get there in the evening as it happened to us, you may stop at any of this views and sleep in the car, nobody will care.

Moreover, there are many towns to stop by: Waynesboro, Roanoke, and Galax in Virginia; Boone and Asheville in North Carolina.
Be prepared: mountains are rarely warm, but often foggy cloudy and rainy. Have appropriate clothes with you!

We did not cover a lot since the road was closed due to weather conditions, but will be glad to share some information with the readers. The parkway has a great website with up-to-date information about the weather and road conditions, interactive map, Blueridge mobile apps, etc.

The highlights of Blue Ridge Parkway recommended to see:

Humpback rocks with a Sherando Lake (to camp), mountain farm, hiking trails, small museum, and rocks per se
(milepost 5.8)

James River & Otter Creek with opportunities for hiking, camping, picnicking and fishing
(milepost 60-63.8)

Peaks of Otter where one can explore Polly Wood’s Ordinary, a cabin that served as the first lodging for travelers through the area starting in the early 1830’s, or Johnson Farm, a living history farm that entices visitors play games, help work the garden, or enjoy nature’s beauty by relaxing on the porch in a rocking chair. Also fish, camp and shop!
(milepost 86)

Rocky Knob & Mabry Mill offers the visit to to one of the most-photographed structures along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Mabry Mill, as well as Rockcastle Gorge. It is also the only place to rent cabins at Blue ridge pkwy (Rocky Knob Cabins, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s)
(milepost 169, 176.2)

Blue Ridge Music Center with its amphitheatre and opportunities to enoy local music traditions
(milepost 213)

Cumberland Knob the site where construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway began in 1935. It was the first recreation area opened to the public. Cool place to watch wildlife!
(milepost 217.5)

Doughton Park the place to observe things as different as craft demonstrations, deer, bobcats, and azalea.
(milepost 230)

Moses H. Cone Park at the foot of Grandfather mountain with its craft center, cemetery, apple barns, and amphitheater
(milepost 294)

Julian Price Memorial Park where you may rent a canoe or enjoy the guided walk or interpretive program
(milepost 297)

Linn Cove Viaduct – a great bridge with a small museum
(milepost 304)

Craggy Gardens with their beautiful flowers
( milepost 364)

Folk Art Center showcasing art of Southern Appalachians
(milepost 382)

Mount Pisgah and its summit with breathtaking views
(milepost 408)

Waterrock Knob – an ideal spot for watching sunrises and sunsets
(milepost 451.2)

Enjoy!