The Ultimate Blue Ridge Parkway Travel Guide (2024)

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.  The Parkway travels for 469 Miles from The Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Cherokee Indian Reservation in NC.  

The Parkway weaves its way along some of the highest ridges and mountains in North Carolina and is known for its incredible scenic views.  The highest point is located near Waynesville, NC at Milepost 431 where the elevation is 6,053 feet.

Traveling along the parkway, you'll venture through many tunnels, have the opportunity to stop at many overlooks and see wildflowers, wildlife, and waterfalls. There are also numerous hiking trails along the parkway to explore, as well as historic structures. 

As you venture along the Blue Ridge Parkway, you'll also pass nearby to many wonderful small mountain towns that we highly recommend visiting and exploring as well.

This Blue Ridge Parkway Guide will give you a full tour of this beautiful, historic and magnificent scenic drive.

Updated: 3/13/2024

Blue Ridge Parkway History

Blue Ridge Parkway History and Construction

The Blue Ridge Parkway was part of The New Deal instituted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress.  The New Deal was designed to provide work for those unemployed and poor as a result of The Great Depression.

 Construction on the Parkway began on September 11, 1935, near Cumberland Knob in North Carolina.  The Parkway was completed 52 years later near Linn Cove Viaduct, which runs around Grandfather Mountain.

The Parkway itself, especially Linn Cove Viaduct, is an American engineering marvel.  The parkway winds its way along the mountain ridges, through mountain valleys (often called Gaps along the Parkway) and over and around many of the tallest peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Fall on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Engineers also designed the Parkway to have a minimal impact the mountains and to be barely visible from lower elevations.   Tunnels were often used to avoid damaging mountains and causing large "scars".   North Carolina contains 25 tunnels and there is 1 in Virginia.

Blue Ridge Parkway Map

A Blue Ridge Parkway map is an essential tool for planning a trip along the Parkway. The map shows the Parkway's entire route, as well as all of the attractions, facilities, and services that are located along the way.  

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a beautiful and scenic road that offers a variety of things to see and do. With the help of the Blue Ridge Parkway map, you can plan your perfect trip along the Parkway.

Where does the Blue Ridge Parkway start and end you wonder?  Milepost 469 is in Cherokee NC, near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The Parkway begins at Milepost 0 in Rockfish Gap, Virginia, where it intersects Interstate 64 and Skyline Drive, which winds 105 miles through Shenandoah National Park

How long is the Blue Ridge Parkway?  The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles long and travels through North Carolina and Virginia.

Access Points and Blue Ridge Parkway Entrances

There are many Blue Ridge Parkway access points and entrances, but no direct interchanges to interstate highways on the Parkway.

Engineers developed small side roads that serve as access points to various NC highways. The Parkway has many access points along many large and smaller roads in Virginia and North Carolina. Most would probably consider some of these to be trails and not roads.

There are a number of different "major entrances" where the Parkway crosses larger roads in larger towns and cities. Their entrances are where most people enter.  

These main Blue Ridge Parkway entrances are:

Rockfish Gap (Northern End of the Parkway)

Rockfish Gap is accessible via Virginia Interstate 64 from Staunton, Charlottesville, and Richmond VA. Rockfish Gap is Exit 99. Rockfish Gap is also the southernmost access point for Skyline Drive.

Roanoke, VA - Highway 220

From Roanoke, VA, take Interstate 581/220 to Milepost 121 on the Parkway. The Parkway is about 5 miles from Roanoke.

Fancy Gap, VA - Interstate 77

There is no direct interchange between the Parkway and Interstate 77, although the Parkway crosses I77. To access the Parkway from I77, take Exit 8 to Highway 52 and follow the signs to the Parkway. You'll enter the parkway at Milepost 199.

Deep Gap, NC - Highway 421 - Near Boone and Blowing Rock

The Blue Ridge Parkway Boone NC is accessible to both Boone and Blowing Rock at MP 291.8 off US 321/221. From Boone, take highway 321 South about 5 miles. From Blowing Rock, take highway 321 North about 1 mile.

Linville, NC - Interstate 40 and Highway 221

Traveling west on Interstate 40, towards Asheville NC, the easiest Parkway access is via Highway 221 towards Linville NC.   Take exit 86 off I-40 (Large Love's Travel Stop is there). Take 226, then 221 towards Marion, NC. Distance to MP317.5 on the Parkway is about 26 miles.

You can also take 226 off 221 and catch the Parkway at MP330.9 in Spruce Pine. Highway 226 in this area is pretty narrow and a very winding road.

Asheville, NC - Interstate 40

Asheville NC Travel Guide

Photo by: Mandy Janney Gallimore, Making Memories Photography

Asheville NC has several Blue Ridge Parkway Access points:

  1. Alt-74 to MP384.7 - From I40, take exit 52 to Bat Cave.  Less than half a mile after exiting you'll go under the Parkway and the Parkway access road will be on your right.
  2. US25 (Hendersonville Rd) - US25 is the road to the Biltmore Estate entrance. From I40, take exit 50A, and go south on US25. The Parkway access road is about 3 miles south of I-40.
  3. I-26 - From I-26, take exit 33 to US 191 (Brevard Rd). Take US191 South. The Parkway access is about 3 miles down US191. Just watch for the signs.

Access points for Asheville to the Blue Ridge Parkway are always close by, as the Parkway runs right through Asheville.

Waynesville, NC - Highway 74/23

From Waynesville NC, head towards Sylva on Highway 74/23/441. The Parkway access road will be on the right about 4.5 miles after leaving Waynesville. This will bring you onto the Parkway at MP 443.1.

Maggie Valley, NC - Highway 19

From Maggie Valley NC, head west on Highway 19 towards Cherokee NC. The Parkway entrance is about 4 miles past Ghost Town in the Sky. This access point will bring you onto the Parkway at MP 455.7.

Maggie Valley NC

See our Maggie Valley NC Guide for more information!

Cherokee, NC (Southern end of the Parkway)

Cherokee, NC is the southern end of The Blue Ridge Parkway where the Parkway connects with Highway 441 for access to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. From Cherokee, take US 441 towards the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Just prior to reaching the Oconoluftee Visitors Center, you'll see the Parkway entrance on your right. Just watch for the signs. Milepost 469.1.

Blue Ridge Parkway Closures

Blue Ridge Parkway Closure

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a popular tourist destination and a very busy road. This can lead to closures, either due to weather or construction.

Weather-related closures

The Blue Ridge Parkway is located in a mountainous region, so it is susceptible to weather-related closures. Snowstorms, ice storms, and flooding can all lead to closures. In the winter, the Parkway is often closed due to snow and ice. In the spring, the Parkway can be closed due to flooding.

Construction-related closures

The Blue Ridge Parkway is also a work in progress. There are always projects underway to improve the Parkway, and these projects can lead to closures. Construction-related closures are typically short-term, but they can be disruptive.

How to check for closures

The best way to check for closures is to visit the National Park Service website or call the Parkway's traffic hotline at 828-298-0398. You can also check the Parkway's Twitter account for updates.

What should you do if the Parkway is closed?

If the Parkway is closed, there are a few things you can do. First, you can check the website of the Parkway or call the traffic hotline to see if they expect the closure to last for a long time. If you expect the closure to last for a long time, you might reroute your trip. If the closure is expected to last for a short time, you might choose to wait until it reopens.

If you decide to wait out the closure, you can visit one of the Parkway's many visitor centers. You can also hike or bike one of the Parkway's many trails. If you are looking for a place to stay, there are many hotels and motels located near the Parkway.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a beautiful and scenic road, but it is important to be aware of the possibility of closures. By checking for closures before you go, you can avoid disappointment and have a safe and enjoyable trip.

Our Parkway Travel Tips

Fall Colors just beginning to show on the Blue Ridge Parkway

We've traveled various sections of The Blue Ridge Parkway more times than we can count over the past 16 years. We've traveled with family members, in groups of multiple cars, with young kids, and with no kids.  

We've also driven during all four seasons. As a result, we have lots of helpful tips to help you on your Blue Ridge Parkway road trip:

  1. Plan your trip - The Blue Ridge Parkway is a long drive, so it's important to plan your trip ahead of time. Decide how long you want to spend on the Parkway, and what you want to see and do.
  2. Drive slowly - The speed limit on the Parkway is 45 mph, and for good reason. The Parkway is a winding road with stunning views, and it's important to take your time and enjoy the scenery.
  3. Be prepared for wildlife - The Parkway is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, bears, Elk, and coyotes. Be sure to be on the lookout for animals when driving, and never feed or approach wildlife.
  4. Stop often - There are many overlooks and scenic areas along the Parkway, so be sure to stop often and enjoy the views.
  5. Get out and explore - The Blue Ridge Parkway is more than just a scenic drive. There are plenty of opportunities to get out and explore, including hiking, biking, fishing, and camping.
  6. Plan for all types of weather - The weather can change quickly in the mountains, so be sure to pack for all types of weather conditions.
  7. Show respect - The Parkway is a national park, so be sure to be respectful of the park and its resources. Pack out what you pack in, and leave no trace.

For more tips, visit our Blue Ridge Parkway tips page!

Blue Ridge Parkway Guides

As locals living in the Waynesville and Maggie Valley NC area, we have easy access to some of the most beautiful sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway. We love going out after work and on the weekends, and just driving on the Parkway and enjoying all of the great things to see and do.   

To help you get more out of your Blue Ridge Parkway road trip, here are all of our Blue Ridge Parkway Guides:

Is it better to go north or south on the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Motorcycle on the Blue Ridge Parkway

A common question we get asked about the Blue Ridge Parkway is: Is it better to go north or south on the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Honestly, it doesn't matter. It's better to start your Blue Ridge Parkway road trip at whichever end or access point is closest for you to get to. Milepost 469 is on the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. Milepost 0 is on the north end of the blue ridge parkway in Virginia.

The scenery is beautiful regardless of which way you travel, and the overlooks, sights, and attractions are all identical regardless of which way you travel.

Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Centers

Tunnel on The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway has several visitor centers along its complete route that provide information, exhibits, resources for visitors, and restroom facilities.

Here are a few popular visitor centers on the Blue Ridge Parkway:

  1. Humpback Rocks Visitor Center (Virginia) - Located near milepost 5.8 in Virginia, the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center offers information on the parkway's history, culture, and natural features. It also serves as a gateway to the Humpback Rocks Recreation Area, which includes a historic farm exhibit and hiking trails.
  2. Peaks of Otter Visitor Center (Virginia) - Situated near milepost 86 in Virginia, the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center is nestled amidst the picturesque Peaks of Otter. It provides information about the area's wildlife, flora, and recreational opportunities. The visitor center serves as a starting point for hikes and offers access to the nearby Abbott Lake and Sharp Top Mountain.
  3. Linville Falls Visitor Center (North Carolina) - near milepost 317 in North Carolina, the Linville Falls Visitor Center is a hub for exploring the popular Linville Falls area. It offers exhibits on the geology and natural history of the region and provides guidance for hiking trails that lead to stunning waterfalls.
  4. Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center at Asheville (North Carolina) - Found near milepost 384 in North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center at Asheville serves as a comprehensive resource for visitors. It offers exhibits, information on parkway attractions, maps, and a gift shop. The visitor center is conveniently located near Asheville, a vibrant city with its own range of amenities and attractions.

Important to note is that Visitor Centers are only open during peak season and closed during the winter months.

Things to do on the Blue Ridge Parkway, by Milepost

Rhododendron on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Rhododendron on the Blue Ridge Parkway

When many people think of the parkway, they think of a beautiful, serene and quiet drive through the upper elevations of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Well, they're right, as traveling the parkway is all of this and more.  

The Parkway is more than just a beautiful road you can drive on.   

Throughout its 469 miles, there are tons of hiking trails, overlooks, places of interest, visitors centers, waterfalls and more.

In fact, there is so much to do, it would be near impossible for us to cover it all, but we'll definitely hit on some highlights. Mileposts, which are small stones to the side of the road with mile marker numbers on them, mark locations on the Parkway.

One highlight of traveling on the Blue Ridge Parkway is exploring the many overlooks. These overlooks allow you to see incredible scenic views and other areas of interest and also provide a great place to stop and rest. You can even have a picnic!   

Below we highlight many things to do on the Blue Ridge Parkway, including many of the most popular Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks. Here is a detailed listing, by milepost:

MP 469.1 - Cherokee and The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Lots to do in both of these areas: attractions, hiking, scenic drives, Elk, fishing ... you name it. Cherokee is also the location for Harrah's Casino, a very popular attraction and travel destination for people all around the world. Be sure to visit Mingo Falls while you're there.

Cherokee NC

MP 458.2 - Heintooga/Balsam Mountain Rd

The Blue Ridge Parkway has a number of side or spur roads.   Balsam Mountain Road takes you past mile high campground, a few gorgeous overlooks, and into the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  

You'll pass the Masonic Marker as well.  At the end of the road, you can find the trailhead for Flat Creek Trail and the entrance to Heintooge Round Bottom Road.

Heintooga Round Bottom Road

MP 455.7 - Soco Gap/Maggie Valley, NC

The Parkway crosses over Highway 19 at Soco Gap, providing access to Cherokee NC and Maggie Valley, NC. Drive south on Highway 19 towards Cherokee on Highway 19 to Soco Falls, a real hidden gem and one of our favorite NC waterfalls

MP451.2 - Waterrock Knob

Waterrock Knob Blue Ridge Parkway

Waterrock Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway

Nearly 6,000 feet in elevation, the area provides beautiful sunset and sunrise views, and throughout the day, under clear conditions, provides fantastic views of the surrounding mountains. There is also a small visitors' center, parking lot and a fairly steep trail to the top of "the knob". A gorgeous place to see both sunsets and sunrises.

Devil's Courthouse

This is a popular overlook and hiking location.  The overlook provides great views of the surrounding mountains, and in particular of Devil's Courthouse and its rocky face.   You can also hike the trail up the top.

MP 443.1: US 74/23 Waynesville NC

Waynesville NC

The parkway crosses over US 74/23 here, and offers access to Waynesville NC, Sylva, and Dillsboro, NC. Western Carolina University is in nearby Cullowhee. Waynesville is a great little town and offers a more rural location than larger Asheville, NC.  

Downtown Waynesville is a popular tourist location because of its "old-fashioned feel" and many unique stores and restaurants.  Waynesville is also home to Barber Orchard, a fantastic apple orchard. Stop in Waynesville NC, visit downtown Winchester Creek Farm and have dinner at The Sweet Onion restaurant.

MP 431.4 Richland Balsam Overlook

The Highest point on the Parkway at 6, 047 feet. There is also a 1.5-mile loop trail leading to the summit of Richland Balsam.

MP 430  Cowee Mountains Overlook

Cowee Mountain Overlook

Cowee Mountain Overlook

This overlook provides beautiful mountain views at an elevation of 5,950 feet. It is one of the most popular places for photographers to take sunset photos.

MP 420.2 Black Balsam

Hiking over two bald mountains at elevations over 6,000 feet. Offers stunning and unique views of The Blue Ridge Mountains. See our guide to Black Balsam for more information!

Black Balsam

Black Balsam

MP 418.8 - Graveyard Fields

One of our favorite places on the Parkway. Graveyard fields offers unique vegetation, hiking trails and waterfalls and absolutely gorgeous colors in fall. Graveyard Fields is one of the first areas on the parkway to turn.

Fall at Lower Falls, Graveyard Fields

Fall colors at Graveyard Fields

MP 417 - Looking Glass Rock Overlook

Looking Glass Rock Blue Ridge Parkway

Fall Colors at Looking Glass Rock Overlook

One of the best places to see the beautiful, and unique Looking Glass Rock. But that's not why we're mentioning this overlook. The Looking Glass Rock Overlook is also the location of the trailhead to what was one of our favorite waterfall areas and swimming holes.  

Unfortunately, Skinny Dip Falls was the victim of severe flooding in 2021, and the Falls, as most knew them, are now gone. The area was significantly affected and not the same as it was.

MP 412 - US 276 crossing

US276 through Pisgah National Forest, and between Waynesville NC and Brevard, NC crosses the parkway here. Nearby on US276 are Looking Glass Falls, Sliding Rock and Dupont State Forest.

MP 409.6 Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower

A 1.5-mile round-trip hike offers access to Fryingpan tower, a fire watchtower built in the 40s by the National Park Service.   The tower offers gorgeous, high elevation scenic views. The tower is locked, but you can climb the stairs for a better view.

MP 408 - Mount Pisgah and the Pisgah Inn

Scenic views, hiking trails, Pisgah Inn, and camping make this location along the parkway very popular. The location contains two main trails, one to the top of Mount Pisgah and another called "Shut-in" trail. Shut-in trail is a 16-mile trail that is part of a much larger trail created by George Vanderbilt for hunting parties.

MP 388.8: US 25 crossing - Biltmore Estate

Spring at Biltmore

Biltmore Estate

Located just a short drive north along US25 is the entrance to Biltmore Estate.  This is also a really nice and historic area of Asheville.

MP 384 - Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center

The Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville is at Milepost 384 on the Parkway. It is open year-round and offers a variety of exhibits, programs, and services for visitors.

The visitor center has a large main exhibit hall that tells the story of the Blue Ridge Parkway, from its creation to its present day. There are also several smaller exhibits on topics such as the Parkway's natural history, its cultural history, and its recreational opportunities.

The visitor center offers a variety of programs throughout the year, including ranger-led talks, films, and guided walks. There is also a Junior Ranger program for children.

The visitor center has a gift shop that sells books, maps, souvenirs, and other Parkway-related items. There is also a restaurant that serves lunch and snacks.

The Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center is a great place to learn about the Parkway and to plan your trip. It is also a great place to relax and enjoy the view of the mountains.

MP 364.4 Craggy Gardens Visitor Center

Craggy Gardens

Craggy Gardens

One of our favorite locations, with beautiful views and hiking trails. Craggy Gardens is one of our favorite family hiking destinations. There is a nice visitor center here with a gift shop, information and a restroom. There is also a very nice picnic area here as well, along with several nice hiking trails.

MP 362.1 Glassmine Falls

The 200-foot tall waterfall, Glassmine falls is visible from this overlook. Make sure you visit after a rain when it's flowing the strongest.

MP 355.4 Mount Mitchell

Take a drive up the tallest mountain in North Carolina and east of the Mississippi River at 6,684 feet.

MP 339.5 Crabtree Falls

Crabtree Falls Blue Ridge Parkway

Take the 3-mile hike out to this beautiful 70-foot tall waterfall.  See photos and learn more in our Crabtree Falls Guide.

Crabtree Falls is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the Parkway, and in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

MP 344 - Little Switzerland

A neat, small little town with a little shopping, food, and gas. Located nearby are Grassy Creek Falls, and Emerald Village, neat historical mining areas just 3 miles off the parkway.

MP 328.3 - The Orchard at Altapass

A 100+ year old Apple Orchard, that has been turned into a cultural center. There is always something going on here, spring, summer and fall. Music, dancing, crafts and there are lots to eat!

MP 324.8 - Bear Den Campground

A private campground located off the parkway a bit. We have some very fond memories of camping here with our kids. Large campground, with plenty of room for big RVs. They have a camp store, fishing pond, playground equipment for the kids, and a few hiking trails. One leads out to a really pretty waterfall.

Visit their website for more information.

MP 317.4 US 221 Crossing

Just south of here is Linville Caverns, one of the few underground caverns in NC. We've been there many times and always enjoy it.

Warning: it's often crowded in the summer months and on weekends.

MP 316.3 - Linville Falls

Linville Falls

Linville Falls

Beautiful waterfalls, and two hiking trails (one that's really easy) make for a great place to stop.  

Linville Falls is one of our favorite NC waterfalls and is a great family-friendly location for hiking. See our Linville Falls guide for lots of photos, trail information, and more.

MP 302.8 - Rough Ridge

Rough Ridge

Rough Ridge, Photo by: Making Memories Photography

Hike out Tanawha trail along a 1/3 mile long boardwalk that runs across the top of Rocky Ridge. This hike offers outstanding views of the Blue Ridge and of The Parkway and Linn Cove Viaduct.

MP 304.4 - Linn Cove Viaduct

Fall Color at Linn Cove Viaduct

Be sure and drive across this iconic section and engineering marvel of The Blue Ridge Parkway. When people think of the parkway, the Linn Cove Viaduct comes to mind. Linn Cove Viaduct was the last portion of the Parkway. 

See our complete guide to Linn Cove Viaduct.

Fall at Grandfather Mountain

Take 221 to reach this famous NC Mountain and be sure and drive to the top and walk across the "mile high bridge" for stunning views. Lots of camping and hiking trails in the area as well.

Grandfather Mountain is one of our favorite places to visit in the high country!

MP 295 - 298 Julian Price Memorial Park

Canoeing on Price Lake near Boone NC

Hiking, picnicking, camping and trails all around this beautiful mountain lake. Excellent photo spot. This park was the retreat for a former insurance executive.

MP 292 - to 295 - Moses Cone Memorial Park

Return to the Gilded Age. This park was the home and estate of the famous "Denim King" Moses H. Cone and his wife Bertha. Today, it is a park where you can go hiking, ride on horse trails, and visit their home, Flat Top Manor.  

MP 291.9 - US 321 Crossing

Head north on 321 for 7 miles to Boone, NC and south on 321 for 2 miles to Blowing Rock, NC. You'll find Tweetsie Railroad here.

MP 271.9 - Cascade Falls

Take the .8 mile loop trail out to Cascade Falls and back. Cascade falls is over 250 feet.

MP 258.6 - Northwest Trading Post

Gift shop and resting stop. Offers various crafts from North Carolina's northwestern counties. Closed from November to April.

MP 238.5 to 244.7 - Doughton Park

This 7,000-acre park offers hiking, picnic spots, and camping. The park also features a few historic buildings and locations. The park is a popular location to see wildlife, especially deer. During the winter, it's a great location to cross-country ski.

MP 238.5 - Brinegar Cabin

The northern gateway to Doughton Park, this historic cabin, was built in 1880 by Martin Brinegar. The cabin contains a loom that is over 100 years old and used for craft demonstrations during the summer. Two trails for Doughton Park, Cedar Ridge Trail (4.3 miles) and Bluff Mountain Trail (7.5 miles) both begin here.

MP 217.5 - Cumberland Knob Visitor Center

Here is where it all began. Cumberland Knob was where the construction of the parkway began in 1935. Restrooms, picnic area, and water. There are two trails here, one a short hike to Cumberland Knob, the other a longer hike to Gully Creek Gorge.

MP 216.9 NC/Virginia State Line

MP 213 - Blue Ridge Music Center, Galax VA

Learn about the history of Blue Ridge Mountain music and see performances. Learn more on their website.

MP 189.9 - Puckett Cabin

Visit the last home of Orlean Hawks Puckett (1844-1939). Ms. Puckett was a midwife who delivered more than 1,000 babies between 1890 - 1939.

MP 188.8 - Groundhog Mountain

Observation tower, picnic area, restrooms, and scenic views.

MP 176.1 - Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill

By Gary Boyd -

Another iconic Parkway location. E.B. Mabry ran Mabry Mill between 1910 and 1935. A short trail leads youth to this historic and beautiful gristmill, sawmill, and blacksmith shop. During the summer months, old crafting skills are demonstrated in the summer and fall. This mill is a feature of many very famous photos.  

A definite "must stop" location along the parkway.

MP167 - Rocky Knob

Considered by many to be one of the roughest areas of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Rocky Knob offers: camping, hiking, mountain ridges, and spring wildflowers and rhododendrons.

Rocky Knob has a visitor's center and a 72-site picnic area.

MP 154 - The Trail Cabin/Smart View

Nice 3-mile loop hiking trail, 1890s historic cabin, and scenic views.

MP120.4 - Roanoke Mountain

Take a scenic 4-mile one-way loop road over Roanoke Mountain. You'll be rewarded with stunning views of Roanoke, Roanoke Valley, and Mill Mountain.  

There are picnic areas, hiking and hiking trails in this area. The huge neon star, often associated with Roanoke, sits on top of Mill Mountain.

MP 85.9 - Peaks of Otter

Named for 3 peaks, Sharp Top, Flat Top, and Harkening Hill, this location has hiking trails, scenic vistas, camping, picnic areas, cultural displays, and a restaurant and lodge. A nice location to watch the sunrise.

MP 63.6 - James River Visitor Center

Location of a water canal along the James river completed in 1851. Visitors can see on the restored lift locks, of the original 90. There is a visitor center, campground, picnic area, restaurant, gift shop and fishing dock.

MP 34.4 - The Yankee Horse Ridge

Features old narrow-gauge railroad track that was once part of the Irish Creek Railway, a logging railroad. Old logging exhibits are also here for visitors to see.

MP 5 - Humpback Rocks

Features old farm buildings from the 1800s. During the summer, visitors can see many history demonstrations and crafting activities.

MP 0 - Rockfish Gap

Marks the Northern Entrance to The Parkway and the connector to Virginia's Skyline Drive.

Blue Ridge Parkway FAQ

We get lots of questions about the Blue Ridge Parkway both via our inbox and on Facebook. Here are some answers to the most common questions asked about the Blue Ridge Parkway

Where does the Blue Ridge Parkway start and stop?

The north end of the Blue Ridge Parkway starts at the southern portion of the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia at Milepost 0 and runs southward for approximately 469 miles to the southern end of the parkway at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina at Milepost 469. 

How long does it take to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway?

How long it takes to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway can vary depending on a number of factors such as time of year (read this as traffic), weather conditions, and the number of stops you make along the way.

On average, it takes about three days to drive the entire length of the parkway if you're traveling at a moderate pace and making occasional stops to admire the views and explore attractions.

However, many visitors choose to spend more time driving the Parkway, taking several days or even a week to fully enjoy the scenic beauty and all of the wonderful attractions along the route.

What is the prettiest section fo the Blue Ridge Parkway?

The entire Blue Ridge Parkway has many pretty sections, and picking just one is difficult, as the various sections and locations are all very unique.  However, based on our numerous travels on the Blue Ridge Parkway over the years, we feel the section from Asheville NC to Maggie Valley NC is the prettiest section of the Blue Ridge Parkway due to the long distance and high elevation views it offers.

With that being said, we also really enjoy the section from Asheville NC to Boone NC, which contains the famous Linn Cove Viaduct along with some rocky terrain and incredible views around Grandfather Mountain.

Where do you enter the Blue Ridge Parkway?

The Blue Ridge Parkway doesn't have any one single entry point, but many access points all along it's 469 mile total length.

Here are some popular entry points for the Blue Ridge Parkway:

  1. Shenandoah National Park Entrance - The northernmost access point to the Blue Ridge Parkway is located in Virginia at the southern end of Shenandoah National Park. You can enter the parkway from Skyline Drive, which runs through Shenandoah National Park.
  2. Rockfish Gap Entrance - Another entry point in Virginia is at Rockfish Gap, near Afton VA. This is where the southern terminus of Skyline Drive intersects with the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  3. Boone, North Carolina - Boone NC is a popular destination, that provides access to the Blue Ridge Parkway from Highway 321 south of Boone.   From Boone, you can go north or south on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  4. Asheville, North Carolina -  If you're approaching from the south, you can enter the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, North Carolina. This is a common starting point for many visitors.
  5. Other Access Points - The parkway has numerous access points throughout its course, including intersections with major highways, state roads, and scenic overlooks. These entry points allow you to join the parkway at various locations depending on your preferences and travel plans.

It's worth noting that the Blue Ridge Parkway is a continuous road, so once you enter at any of these access points, you can drive along its entire length without needing to exit until you reach the other end at either the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina or Rockfish Gap in Virginia.

What is the Blue Ridge Parkway known for?

The Blue Ridge Parkway is known for many different things, but mostly for its stunning long range views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Here are just a few of the key reasons the Parkway is popular and well known:

  1. Breathtaking Scenery - The parkway offers unparalleled views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, showcasing rolling hills, lush forests, and panoramic views. Visitors can enjoy a range of scenic landscapes throughout their journey.
  2. Fall Foliage - The Blue Ridge Parkway is especially famous for its vibrant fall colors. During the fall season, the mountainsides come alive with a brilliant display of red, orange, and gold foliage, attracting tourists from around the world.
  3. Outdoor Recreation - The parkway provides numerous opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, picnicking, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing. There are numerous hiking trails, campgrounds, and recreational areas to explore along the route.
  4. Cultural Heritage - The Blue Ridge Parkway celebrates the cultural heritage of the region. It features historic sites, museums, and interpretive centers that highlight the traditions, history, and craftsmanship of the Appalachian people.
  5. Scenic Drives - The parkway itself is renowned for being a scenic drive. Its winding road and well-designed overlooks allow visitors to experience the beauty of the mountains and valleys from the comfort of their vehicles.
  6. Wildlife - The Blue RidgeParkway is home to a diverse range of wildlife species. Visitors may spot white-tailed deer, black bears, elk, wild turkeys, and various bird species while exploring the parkway.

Is the Blue Ridge Parkway worth it?

Answer yes would be an understatement.  The Blue Ridge Parkway is literally one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the world.   Travelers will see things they never though possible.  

The Blue Ridge Parkway is definitely worth visiting and for many reasons:

  1. Stunning Scenery - The parkway provides awe-inspiring views of mountains, valleys, forests, and meadows. The changing landscapes, especially during the fall foliage season, are a visual delight.
  2. Outdoor Activities - The parkway offers a wide range of outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, cycling, and wildlife spotting. There are numerous trails and recreational areas to explore, allowing you to connect with nature and enjoy the fresh mountain air.
  3. Cultural and Historical Sites - Along the parkway, you'll find historic sites, museums, and interpretive centers that provide insight into the region's rich cultural heritage. You can learn about the traditions, crafts, and history of the Appalachian people.
  4. Scenic Drives and Picnic Spots - The parkway itself is designed to maximize the scenic experience. Driving along its winding road is a pleasure, and there are plenty of well-placed overlooks and picnic spots where you can take a break, enjoy the views, and have a picnic.
  5. Wildlife and Birdwatching - The parkway is home to diverse wildlife species, including deer, bears, birds, and more. It presents opportunities for wildlife observation and birdwatching, allowing you to appreciate the natural biodiversity of the area.
  6. Relaxation and Recreation - The Blue Ridge Parkway provides a peaceful and serene environment away from the hustle and bustle of city life. It offers a chance to unwind, rejuvenate, and enjoy the beauty of nature at your own pace.

What is the most photographed place on the Blue Ridge Parkway?

While there are numerous places along the Blue Ridge Parkway that are commonly photographed, one location stands out the most, as the most photographed place on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  This location is on the bucket list of nearly every photographer.   That location is Linn Cove Viaduct around Grandfather Mountain.

Linn Cove Viaduct is the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway location, and captures all that is wonderful about the parkway, including long distance views, towering mountains, and incredible engineering.

Are there bathrooms along the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Yes, there are bathroom facilities available along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Throughout the entire length of the parkway, you'll find restrooms located at various visitor centers, campgrounds, picnic areas, and some of the larger overlooks. These facilities provide restroom facilities for park visitors and are typically well-maintained.

It's important to note though that restroom availability may vary at different times of the year or due to maintenance activities. It's advisable to plan your stops and utilize restroom facilities whenever they are available along the parkway.   

Also, distances between restrooms may be long, depending on where you are traveling the parkway.

Visitor centers and facilities tend to have more comprehensive amenities, including restrooms, information services, and sometimes even food options.

What is the best entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway?

There is not single best entrance to the Blue Ridge Park for everyone.  The "best" entrance will vary depending on your needs and factors such as your starting location, personal preferences, and the specific Blue Ridge Parkway attractions you wish to visit and see. 

Where is the best view of the Blue Ridge Mountains?

The Blue Ridge Mountains offer numerous breathtaking and incredible views throughout their entire range. The "best" iew is a bit subjective, BUT here are a few of our personal favorite locations along the Blue Ridge Parkway that are renowned by many for their stunning long distance view of the mountains:

  1. Waterrock Knob (North Carolina) - Located near milepost 451.2, Waterrock Knob is one of the highest points on the parkway in North Carolina. It features a visitor center and a short trail that leads to the summit, where you can enjoy panoramic vistas of the mountain range. The sweeping views from Waterrock Knob make it a popular spot for photographers and nature enthusiasts alike.  It is very popular for both sunsets and sunrises.
  2. Black Balsam Knob (North Carolina) -  Located near milepost 420 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Black Balsam Knob provides panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. It's a popular spot for hikers and photographers, offering unobstructed vistas and the opportunity to witness stunning sunrises and sunsets.
  3. Craggy Gardens (North Carolina): Situated near milepost 364, Craggy Gardens offers captivating views, particularly during the blooming season of the rhododendrons in late spring. The rugged peaks and vibrant wildflowers create a picturesque setting that's cherished by visitors.
  4. Rough Ridge (North Carolina): Found near milepost 302, Rough Ridge features a short hike that rewards you with breathtaking views of the mountains. The elevated boardwalk takes you to a rocky outcrop, allowing you to soak in the stunning vistas of the surrounding peaks.
  5. Grandfather Mountain (North Carolina): While not directly on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Grandfather Mountain is a nearby attraction worth visiting for its awe-inspiring views. It features an iconic mile-high swinging bridge and various overlooks that provide stunning vistas of the rugged peaks and deep valleys.
  6. The Pinnacles (Virginia): Located near milepost 35, The Pinnacles is known for its dramatic rock formations and captivating views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It offers a unique perspective of the mountains and the surrounding landscape.

These are just a few examples, and there are numerous other viewpoints along the Blue Ridge Parkway that offer incredible vistas. 

What is the famous curve on the Blue Ridge Parkway?

The famous curve on the Blue Ridge Parkway is called Linn Cove Viaduct

Linn Cove Viaduct is an engineering marvel that wraps around the slopes of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. It is located near milepost 304 on the parkway. 

The viaduct is a unique, elevated roadway that was designed to minimize environmental impact by hugging the mountain contours rather than disrupting the natural landscape. The viaduct offers stunning views of the surrounding scenery and is often celebrated for its architectural beauty and seamless integration with the mountainous terrain.

The Linn Cove Viaduct has become an iconic symbol of the Blue Ridge Parkway and is a popular attraction for visitors and photographers.

Another popular curve is located in Grandfather Mountain not far from the Parkway, called Forrest Gump Curve.  This famous curve on the road leading up to the top of Grandfather Mountain was featured in the movie Forrest Gump, when he was running across the county.

About the author

Larry Deane is co-owner of Blue Ridge Mountain Life. He has spent more than 20 years exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and has a deep passion for nature, history, storytelling, and adventure. Along with his wife Jenn, they combined these passions to create Blue Ridge Mountain Life, a travel guide to these stunning mountains they are fortunate to call home.

Larry has more than 20 years of experience as a writer and journalist, and has established himself as a leading voice and expert for Blue Ridge Mountains. He is also an avid hiker, photographer, and videographer. He loves sharing his mountain adventures and knowledge with more than 500,000 people per month on Blue Ridge Mountain Life.

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