The Blue Ridge Parkway, sometimes called "America's Favorite Drive", provides both stunning scenery and close-up looks at the natural and cultural history of the southern Appalachian mountains. It is designed as a drive-awhile and stop-awhile experience, so please don't be in a hurry.
The Parkway meanders for 469 miles and connects Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks, providing ample opportunities for stops at overlooks, picnic and camping facilities, trails, and wonderful cultural and natural areas. Most visitor facilities are open from mid May through the October leaf season.
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.
Wildflowers & Fall Colors - The Parkway provides an excellent location for both wildflower walks in the springtime and brilliant leaf color in the autumn.
Photography - The combination of historical and natural areas make the park an excellent destination for photographers.
Historical and Cultural Demonstrations - Several developed areas offer hands-on demonstrations of mountain life and culture.
Ranger Guided Walks and Evening Programs - During the summer season, most developed areas offer evening programs, or more traditional campfire programs, along with guided walks and special programs.
Birdwatching - Because the Appalachian Mountains shape the flyway for most eastern migratory birds, the Parkway is an excellent place for both birdwatching and autumn migratory bird counts.
Bicycling - 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. Biking is only allowed on paved roadways. Helmets are recommended and reflectors are required.
From early May through October Visitor Centers are open at Humpback Rocks (MP 5.8), James River (MP 63.8), Peaks of Otter (MP 86), Virginia's Explore Park (MP 115), Rocky Knob (MP 169), Cumberland Knob (MP 217.5), Moses H. Cone Memorial Park (MP 294.1), Linn Cove Viaduct (MP 304.4), Museum of NC Minerals (MP 331), Craggy Gardens (MP 364.6), Folk Art Center (MP 382), and Waterrock Knob (MP 451.2).
The motor road is marked every mile by concrete mileposts beginning at MP 0 near Shenandoah NP and ending at MP 469 at Great Smoky Mountain NP. The winding nature of the road and change in elevation means that large recreational vehicles will have to allow for lots of extra time. Personal vehicles, motorcycles, tour buses and bicycles are allowed.