The Scenic Blue Ridge Parkway
Anyone who has traveled much has probably been on part or all of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway, part of the National Park Service, runs 469 miles over the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This national park is the longest and narrowest in the world with no traffic lights and a maximum speed limit of 45 miles per hour. The two-lane paved road is well maintained. It also goes through some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States, and there is no fee to enter.
Four lodges and six restaurants are scattered along the Parkway. There are nine campgrounds to serve the visitor from early May through the fall color season.
There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy while on the Parkway. Bicycling, hiking, photography, and bird watching are favorite things to do. Hundreds of overlooks provide pullouts to enjoy the views across the mountains and valleys. Use the mileposts as guides and handy brochures to find attractions along the way. There are too many notable attractions on the Parkway to mention each, but everyone has favorites.
The Peaks of Otter, at mile marker 86, have been dominant features of the landscape in this part of Virginia for centuries. Roanoke Mountain and the city of Roanoke are at milepost 120. Mabry Mill at milepost 176.1 is a restored gristmill and sawmill with a woodworking and blacksmith shop. Old time skills like basket weaving, seat caning, spinning, and weaving are demonstrated.
Crossing over into North Carolina between the 210 and 220 mileposts, the High Country of North Carolina lives up to its name. Towns like Boone and Blowing Rock have amenities worthy of a stopover. One of the most popular attractions on the Parkway is the 5946-foot Grandfather Mountain. A nature museum, hiking trails, a restaurant, and a mile-high swinging bridge top off the mountain’s features. Perhaps the crowning point of the Parkway, the Linn Cove Viaduct, is an engineering marvel. At milepost 304.4, the 1243-foot-long bridge, finished in 1983, was needed because the traditional method of cutting a road would cause damage to the rocky, natural environment. Linville Falls State Park (milepost 316.3) is just off the Parkway and has a campground with full hookups. Another state park along the Parkway is Mount Mitchell (mm 355.4). At 6684 feet, it is the highest peak east of the Rockies. Asheville, North Carolina, is accessible from the Parkway at mileposts 382 through 393.
The North Carolina section of the Parkway is much more mountainous than its Virginia counterpart, but both states have their special features.
Keywords: blue ridge parkway, grandfather mountain, linn cove viaduct, linnville falls, north carolina
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