To purchase a print of this drawing by author/artist
Lee Pantas, visit
Cherry Orchard Studio
The Blue Ridge
Parkway is ranked “America’s most scenic drive” by leading travel writers.
mountain crests from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great
Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee, the Parkway is
the gateway to a wondrous Appalachian empire. The Parkway’s 469 toll-free miles
of awesome natural beauty combined with the pioneer history of gristmills,
weathered cabins and split-rail fences create one of the most popular areas in
the national park system. This extraordinary region encompasses a world of
mountain forest, wildlife and wildflowers thousands of feet above a patchwork of
villages, fields and farms.
Passing right through Asheville, the Parkway is easily accessible to visitors.
Located at Milepost 384 just southeast of
Asheville is the newly constructed
Blue Ridge Parkway
Destination Center. A unique feature about the Parkway is that
there are no tolls. Speed limits are set at a leisurely 45 miles per hour, and
stops are frequent with more than 250 overlooks on the parkway that offer
magnificent uninterrupted views. More than 600 million visitors have traveled
the Parkway over the years since it opened in the 1930s.
A free Parkway trip planning information packet is available by writing to the
Blue Ridge Parkway Association, P.O. Box
2136, Asheville, NC 28802. This packet
contains maps, the official Park Service Trip map, guides, and other useful
information. Much of this information is also available at the parkway website (www.blueridgeparkway.org).
A complete list of hiking trails that can be accessed from the Blue Ridge
Parkway is presented in Section Two, Chapter 16.
A nonprofit organization,
Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway ,continues to work
towards the preservation of the environmental heritage of the Parkway. This
grass-roots organization welcomes memberships in its work to pre-serve and
protect the Parkway. Information about Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway can be
obtained by calling 800-228-7275 or by writing them at PO Box 20986. Roanoke, VA 24108. Another organization
dedicated to preserving the Blue Ridge Parkway is the
Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. They fund specific programs and
projects that further the parkway’s preservations, protection, and
enhancement. For further information, call 336-721-0260 or write 717
South Marshall Street, Suite 105B, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.
Camping is allowed along the parkway May-October at designated sites, many
requiring a small fee that covers the use of a fireplace and table. Winter
camping is allowed, weather permitting. Facilities are limited and you will need
to check in advance. Copies of campground regulations are available at Parkway
Visitor Centers, and are posted at all campgrounds. Campgrounds near Asheville
are at Linville Falls (Milepost 316.3; 50 tent, 20 RV sites), Crabtree Meadows
(Milepost 339.5; 71 tent, 22 RV sites) and Mount Pisgah (Milepost 408.6; 70
tent, 70 RV sites).
Blue Ridge Parkway
Location: The Parkway begins at Fort Royal, Virginia, and ends in Cherokee,
North Carolina. It goes right through the east side of
Asheville, running north
to south overall.
Address: 195 Hemphill Knob Road, Asheville NC 28803
Telephone: Parkway Information: 828-298-0398, 828-259-0701,
Emergency Parkway Telephone: 800-727-5928
Parkway Headquarters: 828-271-4779
Visitor Information: 828-271-4779
Blue Ridge National Heritage Area 195 Hemphill Knob Road,
Asheville NC 28803; 828-298-5330
Tips: The Parkway is closed intermittently during the winter due to ice and
snow. Peak traffic is during the summer months and especially the autumn leaf
season. With a 45-mph speed limit on a winding two-lane road, be prepared for a
Directions: From Asheville, take I-240 East and get off at Exit 9 (Bat Cave,
Blue Ridge Parkway). Take Hwy. 74A East to parkway entrance roads. It is also
accessible off of Tunnel Rd. (US 70) near the V.A. Hospital in East Asheville
and Brevard Rd. (Hwy. 191) in South Asheville past the Biltmore Square Mall.
The entries that follow are some of the major attractions found on the Parkway
within a short drive of Asheville.
Parkway North of Asheville
Blue Ridge Parkway Headquarters:
The Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center is the major exhibit and
education center on the parkway.
Folk Art Center: Located just east of Asheville, the Folk
Art Center offers a look at traditional and contemporary crafts of
the Appalachian region through interpretive programs, a museum and
Milepost 364, Craggy Gardens: Craggy Gardens is an area of exposed rocks and
high peaks that provides breathtaking views. Large expanses of native
rhododendron cover its slopes and summits. In mid-June, pink and purple blooms
of these Catawba rhododendrons are at their peak. This popular stop has
restrooms, nature exhibits, and is open May-October. Well-marked trails lead
through the rhododendron thickets to Craggy Dome’s awe-inspiring views.
Mount Mitchell State Park offers tent camping, trails, nature study,
picnic area, natural history museum and restaurant. At 6,684 feet
above sea level, it is the highest peak in the eastern United
Museum of North Carolina Minerals:
Displays of over 300 varieties of minerals found in North Carolina.
Open 9-5 daily. 765-2761 or 298-0398.
North Carolina’s only caverns open year-round. Smooth paths takes
visitors deep into the innermost recesses of this beautiful
underground fairyland. Located on route 221, between Linville and
Located off NC 105 in the Pisgah National Forest. Excellent hiking
trails that lead to superb views of Linville Falls. Linville Gorge
is one of the most spectacular sites in North Carolina.
One of North Carolina’s top scenic attractions. Extraordinary views,
wildlife habitats, famous Mile High Swinging Bridge, trails, picnic
areas, nature museum, restaurant and theatre.
Milepost 304, Linn Cove Viaduct: Linn Cove Viaduct is a spectacular bridge that
offers outstanding views and is noteworthy for its elegant and unique
construction. Opened in 1987, this engineering marvel represents the final link
in the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Viaduct is the most
complicated concrete bridge ever built, snaking around boulder-strewn Linn Cove
in a sweeping “S” curve.
Moses H Cone Memorial Park: This great mountain park has 25
miles of hiking
and horseback riding trails, and Flat Top Manor houses the Parkway Craft Center.
No fees, and the Craft Center is open from Mid-March to November, 9:00 a.m. to
5:00 p.m. Ranger-guided activities are also available throughout the summer.
Parkway South of
Milepost 408, Pisgah Inn at Mount Pisgah: Mount Pisgah was part of the original
145,000-acre estate bought in the 1800s by George Vanderbilt. The area is now
the Pisgah National Forest. Located on the parkway is the famous Pisgah Inn, a
great place to stop for a meal. The inn is open April through Autumn. Their
phone number is 828-235-8228. A moderately strenuous hiking trail leads from the Inn
to the Mount Pisgah Overlook.
Cradle of Forestry: Four miles south of the parkway on US 276 is
the Cradle of Forestry, a National Historic Site located in the Pisgah National
Forest. The Cradle of Forestry was the birthplace of American forestry. Visitors
will find forestry exhibits, guided tours, restored historic buildings, craft
exhibits and more. 1002 Pisgah Hwy. 884-5713. (SEE Section Five, Chapter 2)
Milepost 419, Graveyard Fields: An unusual flat area that takes its name from
the mounds dotting the site, which are remains of fallen trees, victims of a
1925 Thanksgiving Eve fire.