- The motor road is marked every mile by concrete mileposts (MP) beginning at MP 0 near Shenandoah National Park and ending at MP 469 at Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The winding nature of the road may make it difficult for large recreational vehicles, but all personal vehicles, motorcycles, tour buses and bicycles are allowed. No commercial traffic is permitted!
Copyright: National Park Service
Blue Ridge Parkway
There are eleven visitor centers along the Parkway, five in Virginia and six in North Carolina. Each is designed to provide information on the activities and facilities in the area, as well as providing general information about the Parkway.
There are three concession operated lodges and a cabin complex along the Parkway, along with seven restaurants, three service stations and other facilities. The nine campgrounds have tent pads, trailer sites, picnic tables, fire pits, dump stations, and comfort stations with cold running water sinks. There are no hookups or shower facilities. Camping is allowed only in designated areas. There are picnic tables in all developed areas, as well as tables at some overlooks along the motor road. All Parkway campgrounds have at least one accessible site, and most visitor centers and lodges are either fully or partially accessible. In addition, there is a wheelchair accessible fishing dock at Otter Lake and a wheelchair accessible trail at Linville Falls.
RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES, PARK USE:
Overlooks and trails offer breaks during a drive, and there are ranger programs at most developed areas during the summer and autumn months. The Parkway provides wonderful opportunities for:
Hiking - The Parkway offers 100 trails ranging from short "leg-stretcher" walks to the Appalachian Trail. Many of these trails are within the National Forests.
The variety of the mountain environment makes the Parkway an excellent location for both wildflower walks in the springtime and brilliant leaf color in the autumn. The combination of historical and natural areas make the park an excellent destination for photographers. Several developed areas offer hands-on demonstrations of mountain life and culture, including Humpback Rocks, the Johnson Farm and Mabry Mill. During the summer season, most developed areas offer evening programs, or more traditional campfire programs, along with guided walks and special programs. At Roanoke Mountain, Rocky Knob, Folk Art Center, the Parkway celebrates mountain culture through special mountain music programs.
Because the Appalachian Mountains shape the flyway for most eastern migratory birds, the Parkway is an excellent place for both bird-watching and autumn migratory bird counts. The slow pace of bicycling on the motor road may be one of the best ways to enjoy everything that the park has to offer. Bikes are prohibited on all trails.
No reservations are taken on the Parkway, except at lodging facilities operated by the concessionaires. Permits are required for hang gliding, commercial activities, weddings and other park uses. These can be obtained through Parkway headquarters in Asheville, NC.
BASIC VISIT RECOMMENDATIONS:
Plan to travel slowly. The Parkway speed limit is 45 mph (35 mph in developed areas), and you should allow time for frequent stops to enjoy the park. To travel the Parkway safely from Shenandoah to Great Smokeys will take twelve or more hours of driving.
There is no fee for traveling on the Parkway, or for visitor centers and picnic areas. Camping fees are $12.00 a night for families or groups with two adults, plus $2.00 for each additional adult over age 18.
NORTH CAROLINA PARK HIGHLIGHTS BY MILEPOST:
217.5 Cumberland Knob Trail - short and easy, elevation 2,885 feet.
217.5 Gully Creek Trail - beautiful streamside hike, 2 miles, strenuous.
218.6 Fox Hunters Paradise Trail - beautiful view, short and easy, named for the fact that hunters could listen to their hounds barking in the valley below.
230.1 Little Glade Millpond - easy loop around pond, very short and easy.
238.5 Cedar Ridge Trail - good day hike through forest offering several views, 4.2 miles, moderate.
238.5 Bluff Mountain Trail - parallels Parkway to MP 244.7, moderate hike, 7.5 miles.
238.5 Brinegar Cabin - was built by Martin Brinegar about 1880 and was lived in until the 1930's when the Parkway purchased it from his widow. Cabin still stands today.
238.5 - 244.7 Doughton Park - was named for Congressman Robert L. Doughton, a staunch supporter and neighbor of the Parkway. Offers camping and wildlife viewing.
241.0 Fodder Stack Trail - view variety of plants, 1 mile, moderate.
241.0 Bluff Ridge Trail - strenuous and steep, almost 3 miles.
243.7 Grassy Gap Fire Road - wide path, 6.5 miles, moderate.
243.7 Basin Creek Trail - access from backcountry campground, 3.3 miles, moderate.
244.7 Flat Rock Ridge Trail - through forest offering several vistas, 5 miles, moderate.
258.6 Northwest Trading Post - offers crafts from North Carolina's northwestern counties.
260.6 Jumpinoff Rock - a short woodland trail leading to vista.
264.4 The Lump Trail, short and easy hike offering hilltop view.
271.9 Cascades Trail - loop trail to view of falls, short but moderate.
272.0 E. B. Jeffress Park - a self-guided trail to the Cascades and another trail leading to and old cabin and church.
272.5 Tompkins Knob Trail - travels to Jesse Brown Cabin, short and easy.
285.1 Boone's Trace - area where Daniel Boone traveled.
292 - 295 Moses H. Cone Memorial Park - offers hiking and horseback riding. Flat Top Manor houses the Parkway Craft Center. Fishing opportunities available.
294.0 Rich Mountain Carriage, multi-use trail (horseback or foot), 3 miles, moderate.
294.0 Flat Top Mountain Carriage, multi-use trail (horseback or foot), 3 miles, moderate.
294.0 Watkins Carriage, multi-use trail (horseback or foot) 3.3 miles, moderately easy.
294.0 Black Bottom Carriage - multi-use trail (horseback or foot), short and easy.
294.0 Bass Lake Carriage - multi-use trail (horseback or foot), 1.7 easy miles.
294.0 Deer Park Carriage - multi-use trail (horseback or foot), short but moderate.
294.0 Maze Carriage - multi-use trail (horseback or foot), 2.3 moderate miles.
294.0 Duncan Carriage - multi-use trail (horseback or foot) 2.5 miles, moderate.
294.0 Rock Creek Bridge Carriage - multi-use trail (horseback or foot) 1 easy mile.
294.1 Figure 8 Trail - short and easy nature loop.
294.6 Trout Lake Hiking & Horse Trail - 1 easy mile, loop.
295.1 - 298 Julian Price Memorial Park - the former retreat of an insurance executive, offers a variety of short trails and a lake.
295.9 Green Knob Trail - travels to Green Knob, 2.3 miles, moderate to strenuous.
296.5 Boone Fork Trail - travels along stream through forest and open meadows, 4.9 miles, moderate to strenuous.
297.0 Price Lake Loop Trail - loops around Price Lake, 2.3 miles, moderate.
304.4 Linn Cove Viaduct and Access Trail - an engineering marvel which skirts the side of Grandfather Mountain. Visitor Center and a short easy trail offered.
305.2 Beacon Heights Trail - a 10 minute moderate hike to a panoramic view.
305.5 Tanawha Trail - diverse biological and geological features, 13.5 moderate miles.
308.3 Flat Rock Trail - short and easy loop offering a spectacular view of Grandfather Mountain and Linville Valley.
315.5 Camp Creek Trail - beautiful spring and early summer hike through mountain laurel and rhododendron forest, very short and easy.
316.3 Linville Falls Trail - view of upper falls, short but moderate. Falls roars through a dramatic, rugged gorge.
316.4 Linville Gorge Trail - view of lower falls, short but strenuous.
316.4 Duggers Creek Trail - loop to view of Duggers Falls, short and easy.
316.5 Linville River Bridge Trail - view of unusual bridge, very short and easy.
320.8 Chestoa View Trail - 30 minute hike to spectacular vista, easy.
331.0 Museum of North Carolina Minerals - interprets the state's mineral wealth.
339.5 Crabtree Falls Loop Trail - view of falls, 2 strenuous miles.
344.1 Woods Mountain Trail - (USFS) 2 miles, moderate.
350.4 Lost Cove Ridge Trail - (USFS) short but moderate.
351.9 Deep Gap Trail - (USFS) short and easy.
355.0 Bald Knob Ridge Trail - (USFS) short and easy.
355.4 Mount Mitchell State Park - offers lookout tower from highest point east of the Mississippi.
359.8 Big Butt Trail - (USFS) short but strenuous, trail continues on Federal land.
361.2 Glassmine Falls - view of falls, very short but strenuous.
364.2 Craggy Pinnacle Trail - offers panoramic view, short but moderate.
364.2 Craggy Gardens Trail - short self-guided nature trail, moderate.
374.4 Rattlesnake Lodge Trail, short but moderate woodland walk.
382.0 Mountain-to-Sea Trail / MTS Trail - begins at Folk Art Center to MP 365 offering spring wildflower identification and panoramic views, 7.5 miles, moderate. The Folk Art Center offers sales and exhibits of traditional and contemporary crafts of the Appalachian region. Includes interpretive programs, gallery and library.
393.7 Shut-In Trail / MTS Trail - Bent Creek-Walnut Cove, 3.1 miles, strenuous.
396.4 Shut-In Trail / MTS Trail - Walnut Cove-Sleepy Gap, 1.7 miles, moderate.
397.3 Shut-In Trail / MTS Trail - Sleepy Gap-Chestnut Cove, short but moderate.
398.3 Shut-In Trail / MTS Trail - Chestnut Cove-Bent Creek Gap, 2.8 strenuous miles.
400.3 Shut-In Trail / MTS Trail - Bent Creek Gap-Beaver Dam Gap, 1.9 miles, moderate.
401.7 Shut-In Trail / MTS Trail - Beaver Dam Gap-Stony Bald, short but moderate.
402.6 Shut-In Trail / MTS Trail - Stony Bald-Big Ridge, 1.2 miles, strenuous.
403.6 Shut-In Trail / MTS Trail - Big Ridge-Mills River Valley, 1.2 miles, moderately strenuous.
404.5 Shut-In Trail / MTS Trail - Mills River Valley-Elk Pasture Gap, 1.2 miles, strenuous.
405.5 Shut-In Trail / MTS Trail - Elk Pasture Gap-Mt. Pisgah, 1.7 miles, strenuous.
407.6 Mt. Pisgah Trail - offers view of summit, 1.26 miles, moderately strenuous.
407.6 Buck Springs Trail - travels from Pisgah Lodge to panoramic view, 1.06 miles, fairly easy.
408.5 Frying Pan Mountain Trail - 1.65 miles, moderately strenuous.
408.6 Mount Pisgah - was part of the Biltmore Estate. The estate became home of the first forest school in America and the nucleus of the Pisgah National Forest which was a gift to the federal government by the late Mrs. Edith Stuyvesant Dresser Vanderbilt after the death of her husband, George Washington Vanderbilt.
417.0 East Fork Trail (USFS, access to Shining Rock Trail System), short and fairly easy.
418.8 Graveyard Fields Loop Trail - travels by beautiful stream, 2.29 miles, moderate.
419.4 John Rock Trail - offers terrific view, short and fairly easy.
422.4 Devil's Courthouse Trail - offers panoramic summit view, short but fairly strenuous. A rugged exposed mountaintop rich in Cherokee traditions offering wonderful views of Pisgah National Forest.
427.6 Bear Pen Gap Trail - access to Mountains-to-Sea Trail, short and easy.
431.0 Richland Balsam Trail - loop trail through spruce and fir forest, 1.47 miles, moderate. Travels to highest point on Parkway, elevation 6,047 feet.
433.8 Toy Taylor Overlook Trail - paved trail to overlook, very short and easy.
451.2 Waterrock Knob Trail - offers panoramic views of Great Smoky Mountains, 1.18 miles, fairly strenuous.
458.2 Heintooga Ridge - a spur road leading to a mile-high overlook 1.3 miles from the Parkway.
469 - Southern End of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Intersects with US 441 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee Reservation.
Recreation - A number of state parks and private attractions border the Parkway, along with a number of national parks and forests. For example:
Shenandoah National Park
Booker T. Washington National Historic Site
Carl Sandburg National Historic Site
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
George Washington and Jefferson National Forests
Nantahala National Forest
Pisgah National Forest
Climate - The Parkway ranges from 650 feet above sea level to over 6,000 feet, so expect rapidly changing weather conditions. The weather is generally mild, but summertime temperatures can reach the 90s and winter can produce extended periods with single digit temperatures, ice, wind and snow.
The Blue Ridge Parkway extends 469 miles through the southern Appalachians of Virginia and North Carolina, linking Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountain National Parks along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains.