The Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles of beautiful highway running through the Blue Ridge Mountain Range from the Great Smoky Mountain NP in North Carolina to the Shenandoah NP in Virginia.

The weather was a little wet when we left the Great Smoky Mountain NP, so we jumped off the parkway and headed to Brevard, NC to meet up with Pam’s Cousin Bill and his girlfriend for lunch. Brevard is the land of the white squirrel but we didn’t see any while we were in town.

Getting on or off of the parkway can be interesting. There are a limited number of places to enter or exit the parkway, and since the road runs along the ridgeline the access roads can be very mountainous. Luckily we were heading down one very crooked road and squeezed by two trucks carrying the new sections of a bridge heading up the mountain (with about 20 cars following them up).

The weather broke after lunch and once we got back up on the parkway the views were beautiful.

The Natchez Trace Parkway was relatively flat. In fact, where we camped along that parkway in Mississippi was at an altitude of 600 feet, nearly its highest point of 807 feet. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a roller coaster by comparison; climbing up to 5,000 or 6,000 foot overlooks down to 2,500 foot gaps or hollows roughly every 5 miles.

Every once in a while there is also a tunnel that looks way too small to pass through, but we fit.

Other than the constant climbing and down-shifting, the drive is very enjoyable and the views along the parkway are gorgeous.

We jumped off the parkway and camped at Stone Mountain State Park in northern North Carolina. After a wet and cloudy day, we were treated to a great sunset while I seared some steaks.

The next day we jumped back onto the parkway. It’s hard to imagine a 469-mile road with a speed limit of 45 mph and no stop signs or traffic lights. Once you are on the parkway, you can just drive.

Like the Natchez Trace, there are places along the parkway to stop and see some interesting things. One was the Blue Ridge Music Center, which covered the history of the music that has come out of this region.

The center had a good map of the region and the parkway, showing its relationship to various states.

Another place we stopped along the way had a beautiful mill that was busy grinding wheat for folks.

It also had a blacksmith shop that was again closed and locked. I’m starting to see a trend here – lol.

The parkway is a very beautiful road that slices through the woods the entire way.

We got off the parkway at Lynchburg to see Pam’s uncle. However, the Roamer made some nasty noises when we pulled off the parkway. We have an appointment with the local truck guys in town to help fix what may be ailing our ride. We get an unplanned weekend in Lynchburg to explore this area while we get our truck back into shape next week – hopefully.