Blue Ridge Parkway, America’s Favorite Drive

Skip Sickler | Grandfather MountainBlue Ridge Parkway, America’s Favorite Drive

The Linn Cove Viaduct is a must-see stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway in the High Country

The Blue Ridge Parkway spans 252 stunning miles in North Carolina, winding its way among mountain towns, national forests and historic sites, all the while treating you to breathtaking views along hundreds of roadside vistas and hiking and biking trails. Known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” the Parkway is the second most-visited attraction in the National Park Service and a must-visit destination during fall color season.

Whether driving the Parkway during a one-day outing or a weeklong road trip, you’ll find hundreds of natural, cultural and historic sites to enjoy.

Here are just a few highlights:

Stone Mountain State Park
Roaring Gap, Milepost 229
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
Blowing Rock, Milepost 292
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.

Linn Cove Viaduct
Linville, Milepost 304
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.

Folk Art Center
Asheville, Milepost 382
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.

Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center
Asheville, Milepost 384
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.

Mount Pisgah and Pisgah National Forest
Asheville, Milepost 408
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.

Milepost 469
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 Blue Ridge Parkway.

Blue Ridge Parkway by the numbers

  • 252 miles passing through North Carolina
  • 369 miles of hiking trails
  • 26 tunnels (25 in North Carolina)
  • 176 bridges
  • 200+ historic buildings
  • 16 million+ visitors per year
  • 1,225+ views
  • 4 national forests crossed
  • 382 paved overlooks and parking areas
  • 14,000+ road signs
  • 2,074 species of vascular plants
  • 17 North Carolina counties crossed

Lynn Seldon

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