The Blue Ridge Parkway: America's Favorite Drive
Travel a road that is the trip.
The Blue Ridge Parkway spans 250 miles in North Carolina, winding its way among mountain towns, national forests and historic sites, all the while treating its visitors to breathtaking views along hundreds of roadside vistas and hiking and biking trails. Known as America’s Favorite Drive, the Parkway is the most popular attraction in the National Parks system and a must-visit destination during fall color season.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is affectionately known as America's Favorite Drive
Whether driving the Parkway during a one-day outing or a weeklong road trip, visitors will find hundreds of natural, cultural and historic sites to enjoy.
Here are just a few highlights:
Stone Mountain State Park
Gentle streams, trails and the sheer rock face of Stone Mountain have created a haven for anglers, hikers and climbers. Its 13,500 acres include tent, primitive and backpack campsites; 17 miles of trout fishing streams; rock climbing; hiking trails and waterfalls. The park joins the Parkway near Doughton Park.
The Blowing Rock
The Blowing Rock is an immense cliff 4,000 feet above sea level overlooking Johns River Gorge 3,000 feet below. The rocky walls of the gorge form a flume through which the northwest wind seeps with such force that light objects thrown over the void return to their senders, thus the name Blowing Rock. Enjoy the scenic views and observation tower, gardens, a small garden waterfall and unique gift shop.
The Linn Cove Viaduct, an engineering work of art
Linn Cove Viaduct
The Linn Cove Viaduct is a 1,234-foot S-curve built at an elevation of 4,100 feet. Seemingly suspended in midair as it hugs the southern face of Grandfather Mountain, this section of roadway was the centerpiece of the last 7.5-mile section of the Blue Ridge Parkway to be completed.
Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center
This 12,000-square-foot facility features exhibits on things to do as well as natural and cultural diversity along the Parkway. It’s also home to a 22-foot interactive map known as the I-Wall, which uses videos and photographs to highlight points of interest.
Pisgah National Forest
The forest features more than 500,000 acres of towering mountains, hiking trails and Sliding Rock, a natural water slide with public access (bring old shorts for the ride down the rock). Public campgrounds are available and mountain biking is permitted in the national forest (on the Parkway, bicycles are limited to established roads).
The Folk Art Center in Asheville
Folk Art Center
The center shows work of contemporary and traditional Southern Appalachian craft, houses three fine art galleries and offers daily craft demonstrations. It also features book signings, woodworking and quilt making demonstrations and exhibits featuring traditional woodworking, textiles, furniture, basketry, pottery, dolls and other crafts.
Cherokee Indian Reservation
Here in the home of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, highlights include the artifacts collection at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian; the Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual; the Oconaluftee Indian Village, a replica 18th-century Native American community; and the outdoor drama Unto These Hills.
Find more things to do in our list of Must-See Mileposts on the Parkway.
By the numbers
250: Parkway miles in North Carolina (it spans a total distance of 469 miles)
382: number of scenic overlooks
91: historic buildings located along the Parkway
369: number of hiking trails
17 million: travelers who visit the Parkway each year
4: number of national forests crossed
$2.3 billion: the Parkway’s annual economic impact
26: number of tunnels (25 are in North Carolina)
added: December 22, 2008
updated: August 16, 2012
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