20 Blue Ridge Parkway Drive Stops You Have To Make + 2 Tips

The Blue Ridge Parkway, sometimes known as “America’s favorite drive,” spans a total of 469 miles from the breathtaking Shenandoah National Park to the equally breathtaking Great Smoky Mountains.

There are a total of 29 counties in Virginia and North Carolina that are traversed by the Blue Ridge Parkway.

It’s easy to become lost in the quaintness of a tiny town and the beauty of its surroundings while stopping at any one of the innumerable magnificent and fascinating attractions located there.

A 45 mph speed restriction, two lanes, and the prohibition of heavy trucks all contribute to making this trip a pleasurable and stress-free experience. Easily one of the greatest road trips in the United States, it offers access to several hiking trails, scenic overlooks, and other natural attractions.

One of the nicest things to do in North Carolina is to take a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We suggest budgeting three to seven days for your trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway, depending on how quickly you want to go and how many of these delightful stops you want to make.

You’ll be doing one of the most beautiful drives in the country! Let’s investigate the Blue Ridge Parkway’s greatest attractions.

Outline hide

What Is The Blue Ridge Parkway?

The 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains are some of the most breathtaking scenery in the United States.

Rockfish Gap, Virginia serves as the starting point for the Blue Ridge Parkway, which continues on to Cherokee, North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Mountains, which are located in the Appalachian Mountains, are the inspiration for the park’s name.

Blue Ridge Parkway

In the autumn, when the foliage is at its most spectacular, tourists come from all over the globe to take this journey.

Best Stops To Make On The Blue Ridge Parkway Drive

Shenandoah National Park (Milepost 0)

The world-famous Blue Ridge Parkway begins at this national park. There are many natural treasures to be found there, including waterfalls, marshes, granite summits, and an abundance of animals. Nearly 200,000 acres means plenty of space to roam if that’s where your travels begin.

There are peaceful forested valleys to explore. There are routes for almost 500 km to windy peaks and gushing waterfalls. Big Meadows is a great place to see local fauna, including the elusive black bears. The park’s highest point is Hawksbill Summit, and its biggest waterfall is Overrun Falls.

Natural Bridge (Milepost 61.6)

Natural Bridge is an interesting detour and a perfect place to start your trip. Over 200 feet in height, and 90 feet in width, this magnificent geological phenomenon is a must-see in any region that has limestone.

The Cedar Creek Trail, which passes through here and goes to the Monacan Indian Village and Lace Falls, is a popular destination for a wide range of outdoor activities.

It may be found in a narrow valley formed out of limestone by the torrent over many years. Mountains, hills, and dense woods come together to provide a breathtaking panorama of nature’s beauty.

Apple Orchard Mountain (Milepost 76.5)

The highest point of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia is Apple Orchard Mountain. A lovely trek to Apple Orchard Falls may be had from here. This peak in Jefferson National Forest is stunning. Don’t get your hopes up; the park is called for trees that just resemble apple trees, not actual apple trees.

Reaching the top of Apple Orchard Mountain will reward you with a view of the FAA radar dome, a relic of the Cold War’s early warning system.

Peaks Of Otter (Milepost 86)

Flat Top Mountain, the tallest of the Peaks of Otter, stands at about 4000 feet, followed by Sharp Top Mountain and Harkening Hill. Each one has a summit that’s reachable via trail. You may stay in a lodge with stunning views of Abbott Lake, where you can relax and unwind.

Sharp Top’s breathtaking vantage point, which spans 360 degrees, has made it the most well-known walk in the world.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Mabry Mill (Milepost 176.1)

The most popular picture op along the Parkway is at Mabry Mill. It has stunning natural scenery for stunning photographs at any time of year. The mill’s grounds provide for a pleasant stroll through Appalachian history. Both a blacksmith shop and a sawmill are on display for guests to see at the mill.

If you’re looking for some rural cooking while traveling, stop by Mabry Mill Restaurant. Camping, hiking, and stunning views may all be had in close proximity at Rocky Knob. Whenever people get together to play folk music, everyone has a good time.

Fancy Gap (Milepost 199.5)

Fancy Gap, the most amazing of all the little towns along the Blue Ridge Parkway Drive, is well worth a detour.

There’s a plethora of charming shops, cafes, hotels, and inns to choose from in this area, not to mention a thriving retail and gardening scene and an abundance of antique stores and green spaces.

It’s also the location of Devil’s Den, a mountainous nature area that has an ancient cave known for its hair-raising plunge within.

To round up your trip with something sweet and cuddly, we advise stopping by Peaceful Heart Alpacas Farm Store.

Blue Ridge Music Center (Milepost 213)

You can count on having a fantastic day at the Blue Ridge Music Center, a world-famous concert hall and museum.

The large outdoor amphitheater often features bluegrass, old-time, Americana, and blues concerts. In the middle of the day, they often gather to listen to mountain music.

Take a trip back in time and explore the musical and cultural history of the area at the Roots of American Music Museum.

For those who want to hear the soothing tones of a violin or banjo, it helps to preserve and promote the very essence of classic American music.

The Blowing Rock (Milepost 291)

Many tourists continue to make the trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway to view the Blowing Rock, the state’s oldest tourist attraction.

A cliff extending upwards of four thousand feet, above a deep chasm. Objects thrown over the rocky chasm are propelled by the wind up the rock channels. Sleet and snow will be blown upwards this winter.

The town itself is a fantastic place to go shopping, dining, or hiking. The Art and History Museum and Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, which has a restored country manor and mansion, are among among Blowing Rock’s most visited landmarks. As the “Crown of the Blue Ridge,” Blowing Rock is a picturesque mountain hamlet.

Rough Ridge (Milepost 302.8)

Rough Ridge on Grandfather Mountain is a famous vantage point along the Blue Ridge Parkway and a popular photography spot. The path to the prime picture op at Lion King Rock is short, but it’s a tough ascent.

The journey over the wooden trails leads to a breathtaking view of Grandfather Mountain and Linn Cove. In total, you’ll find yourself 480 feet above sea level. The path is a section of the more well-known Mountain-to-Sea Trail and may be found inside Pisgah National Forest.

It is one of the easiest walks in the state with the highest return due to its spectacular vantage locations. It’s beautiful enough for a picnic, and it’s a terrific spot to get some exercise.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Linville Falls (Milepost 316.4)

It is the most visited and well-known waterfall in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and it is conveniently located just off the Parkway.

Linville Gorge, which stretches for 12 miles, is home to a waterfall with three distinct levels that drop a combined 90 feet. It’s a wonderful stopover option if you’re looking to enjoy some time in the great outdoors.

There are two pathways that lead to five distinct vantage locations. Both are less than two miles, but the second is a much harder workout.

They take a circuitous route that takes them through flowering meadows and hemlock forests. The valley is sometimes referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Appalachians,” and the falls themselves are a spectacular natural beauty.

The Orchard At Altapass (Milepost 328.3)

It’s like going back in time to this particular stop. The orchard’s mission includes protecting heritage, landscape, and way of life.

The forest of apples claims to be the world’s greatest source of chemical-free heritage apples, and you may visit them there.

The general shop sells a wide variety of items, and there are fun and instructive events for people of all ages to take part in.

You may take a hayride, listen to live music in the pavilion, and watch for local birds and butterflies on the walking paths.

The restaurant serves food prepared from seasonal, regionally-sourced ingredients. It’s been around for over a century and it honors the history and culture of the mountain regions.

Little Switzerland (Milepost 334)

This picturesque community of 46 people is appropriately known as the crown gem of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Initially, it was designed as a Swiss-style mountain resort.

In Emerald Village, you’ll find a collection of authentic old mines to go into. The food at Switzerland Cafe and General Store is among the best you’ll find anywhere in the country.

Wiseman’s View, Crabtree Falls, and the Grassy Creek Waterfall Trail are just a few of the paths that lead to breathtaking scenery and spectacular waterfalls. In addition, there are a number of charming inns where you may spend the night.

The cute Little Switzerland Books and Beans also serves as an art exhibit for regional artists. The Diamondback, a twisty route popular with motorcyclists and drivers of high-performance vehicles, is also accessible if you’re feeling adventurous.

Mount Mitchell (Milepost 355.4)

The summit of Mount Mitchell, at 6,684 feet, is the highest point east of the Mississippi River and in the Appalachians. This natural attraction may be explored by driving nearly to the summit or by hiking the challenging six miles to the peak.

It is possible to see as far as 85 miles away from the observation deck, making it one of the best vantage points in the region.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Fresh balsam woodland is full of interesting sights, including a wide variety of animals. The cultural and ecological history of the mountain are the subject of an intimate museum. You won’t find better vistas anywhere else.

Craggy Gardens (Milepost 364.1)

Craggy Gardens is a particularly interesting spot along the Parkway because of the twisted and jagged nature of the Craggy Gardens subrange of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Visit the Craggy Flats via the Craggy Garden Trail to see vibrant, profuse rhododendron displays.

Also, go up to Craggy Pinnacle for a bird’s-eye perspective. The Garden Trail winds its way across the craggy landscape, which is covered with native wildflowers.

Less than two miles long, the Pinnacle route takes hikers through a magical forest to an incredible vantage point. From this vantage point, you can view wooded, undulating peaks in every direction.

Folk Art Center (Milepost 382)

When in Woodstock, it’s a must to see the Folk Art Center. The Folk Art Center showcases contemporary and historic Appalachian arts and crafts and promotes their preservation and development.

There are more than 250 pieces from the past century on display in the galleries. There are regular activities, artisan demonstrations, and a large free library for patrons to use.

The facility is connected to the Mountain-to-Sea Route and has its own hiking trail. Hundreds of local artisans have set up shop here, selling anything from jewelry to furniture. It’s been selling arts and crafts for longer than any other store in the United States.

Chimney Rock State Park (Exit At Milepost 384.7)

Visits to Chimney Rock State Park are perfect in every way for the ecotourist. Although Chimney Rock Park is not immediately on the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is definitely worth the short detour to get there (it is approximately 25 miles southeast of Asheville on US 64/74-A).

One of the state’s finest parks is located less than an hour’s drive from Asheville, easily accessible from the Parkway.

There are a ton of great climbing spots and hiking routes in North Carolina, making it the greatest place to experience the great outdoors. As one of North Carolina’s tallest waterfalls, the 500 million year old monolith is only one of the attractions.

Blue Ridge Parkway

There is a stunning open area at the top, accessible after a winding road, from where you can see Lake Lure and Hickory Nut Gorge.

Each path has its own unique landscape and amount of challenge, making it suitable for hikers of all experience and aptitude levels.

Bring your binoculars if you’re planning on doing any birding here. Chimney Rock, a quaint little town at the park’s doorstep, is a great place to stroll around and enjoy some local cuisine. Ideally, you’d set aside at least half a day to explore the area.

Biltmore Estate (Milepost 388.8)

The Biltmore is not just the biggest private residence in the United States, but also a museum and estate. It is a monument in American architecture and an opulent chateau with 250 rooms and 8,000 acres.

The Biltmore is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it is surrounded by beautiful gardens that include an impressive array of flora. One of the most popular wineries is located there as well.

You may choose between a self-guided tour and a guided tour of the stately mansion, both of which include the original architecture and furnishings.

This library is rather impressive. An active farm and six eateries await guests. The nature of your encounter is entirely up to you.

Sliding Rock (Milepost 411.8)

Sliding Rock, a waterfall on Looking Glass Creek in Pisgah National Forest, is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts in the Asheville area.

It’s an eight-foot-deep pool at the bottom of a 60-foot-long rock water slide. The greatest way to cool yourself is to slide along with the gushing 11,000 gallons of water per minute.

The average temperature is a pleasant 50 degrees, making this a regular event. There are several vantage points from which to watch the waterfall and cheer on the braver visitors who choose to take the plunge.

There are several beautiful waterfalls and hiking trails in the vicinity to visit if you’re interested in venturing farther. This is a must-see attraction for anybody traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Looking Glass Rock Overlook & Skinny Dip Falls (Milepost 417)

A scenic vista of Looking Glass Rock may be seen at Milepost 417. Looking Glass Rock’s enormous, exposed face emerges from the forest floor and is almost too lovely to be genuine.

This area is home to volcanic rock, which gets a dazzling sheen from any precipitation or ice on its surface. There is a famous walk in North Carolina known as Looking Glass Rock. It’s less than half an hour’s drive from the lookout to the trailhead for Looking Glass Rock.

This is also the starting point for the short climb to Skinny Dip Falls, which leads to a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole through some peaceful woodland.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Milepost 469)

Close to the city of Cherokee, the Blue Ridge Parkway formally ends at the entrance of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The Great Smoky Mountains are a popular tourist destination because of the mountain range’s reputation as a natural paradise with an abundance of plant and animal life.

Located in both North Carolina and Tennessee, it is the most visited national park in the United States.

There are top peaks with vistas reaching out over a spectacular alpine horizon, as well as hiking routes through lush foliage, colorful, uncommon flora, streams, and waterfalls.

Blue Ridge Parkway

The blue fog that settles over the craggy terrain gives it a surreal appearance. Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in the Smokies, Deep Creek is the greatest place to see waterfalls, and Cataloochee Valley is home to a large herd of Elk that may be seen and learned about.

At milepost 469, on US 441, the Blue Ridge Parkway comes to an end.

These are only some of the best viewpoints and rest areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you want to make the most of your time on the Blue Ridge Parkway, keep your eyes alert and pick up a map before you go.

Tips For Driving The Blue Ridge Parkway

History Of The Blue Ridge Parkway

As part of the New Deal, which FDR and Congress passed into law, the Blue Ridge Parkway was first conceived of. It was put into place to help the economy and the nation recover from the Great Depression.

In North Carolina, near Cumberland Knob, building began on September 11, 1935. The work at the Linn Cove Viaduct was eventually completed after almost 52 years. The Parkway, with its bridges and tunnels, is a remarkable feat of engineering since it connects disparate mountain ranges and valleys.

Best Time To Drive The Blue Ridge Parkway

When the leaves begin to change color in the autumn, the Blue Ridge Parkway is at its most beautiful. On the other hand, the Parkway will be at its busiest right now since this is when all the “leaders” will be making their way here.

You won’t be the only traveler on the road in late September and early October, but the breathtaking landscape will make you forget about everyone else.

During the colder months, the Blue Ridge Parkway closes in sections for safety reasons. So, you’ll need to prepare carefully if you want to drive the whole journey.

For the latest road conditions, see the National Park Service’s website. The spring is one of the least crowded periods to take a road trip, making it one of the best seasons to visit.

What To Expect Along The Drive

To say that the Blue Ridge Parkway is unlike any other route would be an understatement. There are plenty of parking spots, rest stops, and picturesque overlooks along the way. The purpose of our trip is to take our time and enjoy the scenic drives throughout America.

Twists and turns occur every few hundred feet on the Parkway’s narrow lanes. Because of the low speed restriction, drivers may take their time and appreciate the scenery. Because mobile coverage is spotty throughout the Parkway, it’s important to have daily plans mapped out in advance.

Biking The Blue Ridge Parkway

All serious cyclists should make it a goal to ride along the Blue Ridge Parkway at least once. Although it is not a typical route, there is no bike lane, thus only experienced riders should attempt it.

It’s a big journey through the mountains that poses a physical test, and riders also have to deal with variable weather and busy roads.

Only ride when the weather is clear and stable. Bicyclists need to be aware of blind areas, and drivers need to be aware of them.

Hiking The Blue Ridge Parkway

Hundreds of miles of paths for hikers may be found all along the Blue Ridge Parkway in both North Carolina and Virginia. A visit to a tourist center might help you decide which activities are right for you. Popular Blue Ridge Parkway hiking routes include:

  • The Valley of Roanoke
  • This is a rocky knoll.
  • Music Venue
  • Park Doughton
  • That Thing in Cumberland
  • Park Julian Price
  • Tanawha
  • The Linville Falls
  • Pisgah Peak
  • Location: Crabtree Falls
  • The Craggy Gardens

Camping On The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a great place to pitch a tent. From the middle of May to the end of October, eight major campsites are available, so you may choose one that fits your schedule.

Most campgrounds shut for the season during the colder months. Campsites in the front country include the following:

  • Place Name: Otter Creek (MP 60.8)
  • Campground at the Peaks of the Otter (MP 85.9)
  • Campground at Rocky Knob (MP 167.1)
  • The Campground at Doughten Peak (MP 239.2)
  • Place to Camp at Julian Price (MP 297)
  • Recreation Area at Linville Falls (MP 316.4)
  • Location: Crabtree Falls Campground (MP 339.5)
  • Pisgah Peak (MP 208.8)

Campgrounds in the front country often offer running water, indoor plumbing, and a garbage disposal. Each campground includes a fire ring and picnic table, and there are showers atJulian Price and Mount Pisgah.

Camping spots cost $20 per night and are offered on a first come, first served basis, however reservations may be made up to six months in advance at www.recreation.gov or (877) 444-6777.

Permit-required backcountry camping areas include:

  • Location: in the vicinity of Rocky Knob, at Rock Castle Gorge (MP 167.1)
  • Locale: Basin Cove, close to Doughton Park (MP 239.2)
  • Located on St. Johns River Road, close to Julian Price Park (MP 296.9)

How To Access The Blue Ridge Parkway

When in North Carolina or Virginia, you may easily access the Parkway. Asheville is a major source of tourists. There are five access points to the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Asheville region, any of which would make for a fantastic starting point for a day of exploration.

If you want to make it back to Asheville quickly after driving the Parkway, you may choose to skip the scenic route and go straight back to the interstate.

Blue Ridge Parkway

When Is The Blue Ridge Parkway Open?

The Blue Ridge Parkway is accessible at all times of the day, every day of the week. In the event of good weather. There is no cost to use the parkway.

What Is The Weather Like Along The Blue Ridge Parkway?

Conditions throughout the parkway’s vast length range. Summer and winter temperatures are often lower at higher altitudes (this is when snow is possible). In the spring and the autumn, the weather may go from thunderstorms to clear skies in a matter of minutes.

Before embarking on a journey along the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s wise to check the forecast.

Tips For Driving The Blue Ridge Parkway

  • The parkway is not a roadway, so please drive carefully. The roads are twisting and narrow, and the posted speed restrictions reflect this.
  • Read up on the current road conditions here before setting out on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Especially if venturing out during the colder months.
  • Stay under the posted speed limit. This is not a set of goals, but rather constraints.
  • As you go down the parkway, keep an eye out for bears. When going on a hike, bear spray is a must-have. In the event that you see a bear while driving, please give it plenty of room.
  • A 6-foot maximum leash length is required for pets.
  • Always follow the principles of leaving no trace.

Waterfalls Along The Blue Ridge Parkway

The majority of these waterfalls may be reached without venturing too far off the Parkway.

The Linville Falls
Location: Crabtree Falls
The Glassmine Drops
Drops in the Skinny-Dip
The Waterfalls at Soco

Best Picnic Sites Along The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway has several scenic areas that are perfect for a picnic. Pack a lunch and a pitcher of lemonade, and go out to the park for a relaxing dinner surrounded by natural beauty.

Keep in mind that you should only take what you can comfortably carry. Leaving out food may be fatal for animals. Notable picnic areas include:

  • Humpback Rocks, MP 8.5%
  • River James, Milepost 63.6
  • Summit of Otter, Milepost 86.0
  • Smart View MP 154.5
  • The Rocky Knob, or Milepost 169
  • Location: Mile Post 188, Groundhog Mountain
  • Cumberland Knob, MP 217.50
  • Doughton Park, Maine, Vowel Position:241.1
  • Jeffress Park, Mile Post 271.9
  • Julian Price Park, Mile Post 296.40
  • Linville River, Mile Post 316.5
  • Location: Mile Post 339.5, Crabtree Meadows
  • Craggy Gardens, MP 367.6
  • MP 407.8 Pisgah Mountain

How Long Does It Take To Drive The Blue Ridge Parkway?

It would take between 10 and 12 hours to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway nonstop, without hitting any traffic, and at the posted speed restrictions.

The problem is that it would serve no purpose to do so. We think that a minimum of three days is necessary to fully appreciate the Parkway’s many attractions and trails.

Leave a Comment