The Blue Ridge Parkway is the very scenic highway that connects Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive in Virginia, with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee. The whole trip along the Parkway, which traverses Virginia and western North Carolina, encompasses a 469 mile drive that can take up to a leisurely 10 days, including stops to explore along the way.
It’s a highway and a journey surrounded by natural beauty. The majority of the Parkway in Virginia runs through the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and into North Carolina along mountain crests. The road itself is a two lane highway with a 45 mph speed limit, but for travelers who enjoy “driving trips,” traveling the Parkway can be a very special experience.
The attractions along the Virginia portion of the Parkway differ slightly from those on the North Carolina side. In Virginia, the recreated mountain farm near Humpback Rocks at the beginning of the Parkway and Mabry Mill, further south, give visitors a glimpse of traditional mountain life in the early days of settlement. In North Carolina, Linville Falls, the Cradle of Forestry, and other natural wonders, feature the natural environment.
In addition to the stops right along the Parkway itself, the road is next to historic towns from top to bottom, making for fascinating exploration of the heritage and culture of the region along the way. The headquarters of the Blue Ridge Parkway is located in Asheville, North Carolina, a city well known to literary figures including Carl Sandburg, Thomas Wolfe and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Exploration of their homes and haunts in the Asheville area presents an interesting side trip and a one or two day break from driving.