Near our Log Cabins: Blue Ridge Parkway
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Hiking | Blue Ridge Parkway
One of the most scenic roads in America, the Blue Ridge Parkway, is located near our log cabin rentals in the mountains of North Carolina near Asheville. The Parkway offers plenty of spots for roadside picnics, breathtaking vistas, easy to difficult hiking, and a reprieve from commercialism. The 469-mile recreational motor road connects Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks. With the use of the Milepost system (the numbers increase as you drive south), you can easily find points of interest along the way. The Blue Ridge Parkway is designed as a "drive awhile and stop awhile" experience. Please don't be in a hurry!
Overlooks, picnic areas, visitor centers, hiking trails, and other areas of interest are available along the road. The best way to experience this place is to take advantage of these opportunities. Short trails offer the chance to get away from the road and see the Blue Ridge up close and personal, even if just for a few minutes. Longer trails are also available for the more adventurous. Bicycling, photography, birdwatching, and practically any other responsible outdoor activity is available for the Parkway visitor!
Hundreds of overlooks allow opportunities to catch a glimpse of sunrises or sunsets, have a picnic, or just enjoy the view across the mountains and valleys of the region. There is no admission fee. Along the Parkway, you will not find gasoline, restaurants or other services. You should gas up before getting on the Parkway. You will need to exit on one of the intersecting highways to find supplies and services.
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. May is probably the best month for wildflowers. Look for Rhododendron in mid June at Craggy Gardens! Fall colors begin in early October in the highest elevations and conclude in early November in the valleys.
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.
Horseback Riding - In the Roanoke area and at the Moses H. Cone Estate, horseback riding trails are available.
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.
For details on the many stops along the Parkway near Asheville and our cabins, see the Blue Ridge Parkway Guide.
Along the Parkway, be sure to stop at the Orchard at Altapass for some apples, local jams, delicious fudge, music, crafts and more!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I picnic along the roadside? In most places, picnicking is allowed on the roadside. This is a long-standing Parkway tradition, but you must be pulled completely off the road and please avoid soggy areas or ditches if we've had an abundance of rain. North of Asheville, NC, the Parkway goes through the city watershed and off-road parking is not permitted where indicated by signs.
Can we visit in the winter? Most Parkway facilities are closed in the winter, although the road itself is open as long as snow or ice do not create dangerous driving conditions. The park information line, (828) 298 0398, is the most up-to-date source for road closures by section and access to Parkway weather reports.
How do I get the best photographs along the Parkway? No photographs adequately capture what you see with your eye from the Parkway's many overlooks, but here are a few tips that may help you out. Early morning or late afternoon sun is much better than mid-day when colors appear to be "washed out." Keep the sun at your back and have someone in your family or group in the picture as a way to personalize your visit.
When do facilities open and close for the season? The Folk Art Center in Asheville is open year round. Other facilities, including visitor centers and picnic areas, begin opening on a staggered schedule in late April and stay open through the fall leaf color.
I'm not accustomed to driving in the mountains... how can I be safe? Our greatest concern is your safety, so here are some things about driving the Parkway that will help ensure a safe visit. First of all, obey the speed limit and make use of the overlooks to enjoy the scenery and let other drivers get by. The Parkway is a bit steeper than most roads and the curves can sometimes "tighten" as you get into them. There are built-in distractions such as beautiful vistas, interesting cabins, bicyclists, and wildlife... watch out for them all! A good rule to keep in mind is "enjoy the view, but watch the road!"
Why aren't there any more signs showing what is available off of the Parkway? Part of the beauty and enjoyment of the Parkway is limited access and no commercial signs or vehicles. Short drives off of the Parkway into any nearby community will allow you to experience the charm and delight of the region.
Why can't we pick flowers or gather wood along the Parkway? National park areas are set aside to preserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects for the enjoyment of all visitors. From the smallest flower to the trees that fall in the forest are part of the ecosystem of the region that we are charged with protecting. Thanks for doing your part!
Is the Blue Ridge Parkway a national park? The National Park Service administers a variety of kinds of areas. Some of these are "parks", some are called "seashores", some are called "monuments" or "historic sites", and some are called "parkways." We wear the same uniform and operate under basically the same rules as Yellowstone, Gettysburg, or Cape Hatteras.
What is the difference between National Forests and National Parks? The Parkway travels through four U.S. National Forests, the Jefferson and George Washington in Virginia, and the Pisgah and Nantahala in North Carolina. National Park areas under the Department of the Interior, have a primary responsibility to conserve all of the park resources for the enjoyment of visitors. National Forest areas under the Department of Agriculture, are multiple use areas where trees are planted and harvested and lots of recreational opportunities, including hunting, are allowed.
Who built the Parkway? The Parkway was an idea born out of the Great Depression and part of its purpose was to put as many people as possible to work. Private contractors, the state and federal highway departments, Italian and Spanish immigrant stonemasons, and thousands of Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees did the work.
When and where can I see the best fall leaf color? Typically, the Blue Ridge Parkway experiences the much anticipated change in fall foliage around the middle of October. Many factors, however, contribute to variations in when and where colors will peak. The Parkway stretches almost five hundred miles north to south, meanders from the east to west facing slopes, and, most importantly, varies in elevation from just under 650 feet at James River in Virginia, to over 6,000 feet south of Mt. Pisgah in North Carolina. Many visitors have been frustrated trying to go to one spot on one day in October, hoping to find the leaves in full color. A far better plan is to drive some distance on the Parkway, changing elevations and north-south orientation. Any one who does this around mid to late October will catch at least some of the pretty color that we’re famous for.
After your visit on the Blue Ridge Parkway, return to your secluded cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains to relax by a fire or in your hot tub.