NPS Centennial: Endless Exploration on the Blue Ridge Parkway
- Aug 8, 2016 |
My favorite National Park is the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s wonderful to be able to experience it by car for as little or as long as you'd like. You can take a short drive to refresh your mind when you've got just an hour, or you could spend entire weeks driving and stopping at all the overlooks and park attractions.
The overlooks are often breathtaking and educational. Thunder Hill is a favorite spot that I've visited countless times. The panorama off the mountain during the day is absolutely stunning and the lights of Charlotte can be seen glowing faintly on most nights.
The Linn Cove Viaduct is another sight to behold. The road itself winds off the side of the mountain in a striking fashion. Another overlook I plan on revisiting is a view of the famed Brown Mountain Lights which are still unsolved and shrouded in mystery.
There are many ways to enjoy the Parkway like hiking, picnicking, camping to waterfalls, craft centers, and historic venues. Price Lake is a great spot to go boating and has good ol' classic camp grounds. Across the street is park area where lots of people play Frisbee and grill out during the Summer.
Some of my favorite hiking trails in the country are along the Parkway. The Tanawha Trail starts at Price Park and follows the renowned Linn Cove Viaduct. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail meanders through farm pastures, under rocky crags, and crosses the Parkway in many places. The Boone Scout Trail is accessible from the Parkway to the Calloway Peak summit on Grandfather Mountain. My go-to hiking spot to wow friends and family visiting the area is Rough Ridge. It's a fairly short, but stout hike with incredibly rewarding vistas.
Another great aspect of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the ability to access other local towns and communities for an endless variety of trips and excursions. I like to visit Asheville to the South and Roanoke to the North. I incorporate the Parkway into my route and it makes for an amazing facet to my travels. I'll often exit the Parkway to a town I've never been to and explore a little there. I like finding a new eatery, checking out shops, or simply stopping for gas.
The Blue Ridge Parkway continues to fascinate me even when I'm not taking it in. The rich history has depth in how big the park is, how many years it took to complete, and the many people and communities which were involved in its construction. It’s remarkable that so many generations of local people were involved, from stone masons building massive bridges and tunnels to Park Rangers protecting flora and fauna.
My camera always goes with me and I've even made some music playlists just for my rides on the Parkway. I've got in the habit of packing a quick day bag to toss in the car whenever I plan on hitting my favorite stretch of road. It contains some essentials like a few different clothing layers, water, snacks, a map, and some good hiking shoes. The day bag comes in handy because I never know when I'll be tempted to explore!
- Fox, Mast Store Home Office
For more of our Mast Family National Park Service adventures and recommendations, click HERE