Blue Ridge Parkway

Overview

The Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina weaves through vibrant and engaging communities. Many visitors to the Parkway include visits to these unique destinations in their journey. In North Carolina, Linville Falls, the Cradle of Forestry, and other natural wonders, feature the natural environment.

In addition to the destinations along the Parkway itself, the road weaves through historic towns offering 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.

Cumberland Knob, MP 217.5

Located near the Virginia state line, Cumberland Knob is the site where construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway began in 1935. It was the first recreation area opened to the public and remains a favorite destination for both locals and visitors.

The mixture of lush woodlands and open fields, housing a variety of birds and other wildlife, is ideal for leisurely walks or a more demanding hike to nearby Gully Creek.

What to Do

  • Explore the Cumberland Knob visitor center to learn how to get the most out of your visit.
  • Enjoy bird and wildlife watching.
  • Take a leisurely hike through natural beauty or challenging hike to nearby Gully Creek.
  • Rejuvenate and enjoy a packed snack or lunch at a picnic area.

Doughton Park, MP 240

Renew your senses amid this landscape of open meadows. Doughton Park is one of the best places along the Blue Ridge Parkway to view white-tailed deer, raccoons, red and grey foxes, and bobcats. Flowers burst on the scene in late spring and create a spectacular show as flame azalea and rhododendron bloom.

The Brinegar Cabin, craft demonstrations, diverse hiking options and make Doughton Park a must-experience destination along the Parkway.

What to Do

  • Explore the Brinegar Cabin to see craft demonstrations or hike into Basin Cove to view the Caudill Family Homestead.
  • Enjoy a short hike at Fodder Stack Trail or test your endurance on the strenuous 7.5-mile Bluff Mountain Trail.
  • Visit the nearby Northwest Trading Post at Milepost 258, featuring a variety of craft items and souvenirs.
  • Camp under the stars and enjoy ranger talks during the summer season.

Moses H. Cone Park, MP 294

A majestic 4,200 acres at the foot of Grandfather Mountain, named in honor of Julian Price, lies directly adjacent to the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park.

Together these parks comprise the largest developed area set aside for public recreation on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

What to Do

  • Visit the Parkway's official craft center at Flat Top Manor at the Moses Cone estate and watch mountain handicraft demonstrations.
  • Explore a family cemetery, carriage and apple barn, and an extensive system of carriage trails for a unique Parkway visit.
  • Enjoy ample nature walks and hiking trails throughout the parks.
  • Picnic and take your choice of more than 100 picnic sites.
  • Camp under the stars at the Parkway's largest campground.
  • Enjoy seasonal interpretive programs at a 300-seat amphitheater, guided walks and evening campfire program.

Julian Price Memorial Park, MP 297

A majestic 4,200 acres at the foot of Grandfather Mountain, named in honor of Julian Price, comprises this popular park and lies directly adjacent to the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. Together these parks make up the largest developed area set aside for public recreation on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

What to Do

  • Rent a boat or canoe to glide through natural beauty or try your luck at fishing at Price Lake.
  • Picnic and take your choice of more than 100 picnic sites.
  • Camp under the stars at the Parkway's largest campground.
  • Enjoy seasonal interpretive programs at a 300-seat amphitheater, guided walks and evening campfire programs.
  • Visit the Parkway's official craft center at Flat Top Manor at the Moses Cone estate and watch mountain handicraft demonstrations.
  • Explore a family cemetery, carriage and apple barn, and an extensive system of carriage trails for a unique Parkway visit.
  • Enjoy ample nature walks and hiking trails throughout the parks.
  • Attend the nation's largest annual National Lumberjack Association rally.

Linn Cove Viaduct, MP 304

The Linn Cove Viaduct hugs the face of Grandfather Mountain and is recognized internationally as an engineering marvel. This was the last section of the Parkway to be completed and a model of the construction technique highlights a visit to the Linn Cove Visitor Center.

What to Do

  • Explore a bridge museum and visitor center maintained by The National Park Service at the south end of the viaduct.
  • Enjoy walking trails that originate at the center travel under and beside the viaduct and connect with the Blue Ridge Parkway trail network.

Craggy Gardens, MP 364

These high elevation summits are home to spectacular floral displays. June and July are usually prime times to view the pink and purple blooms of rhododendron, but don't despair if you miss the peak bloom. Violets, blackberry, May-apple, and Turkscap lily burst onto the scene with color in this high-altitude portion of the Parkway.

What to Do

  • Plan your adventure at the Craggy Gardens visitor center.
  • Take a short hike up Craggy Pinnacle trail and witness a stunning 360-view of seemingly endless peaks and forested slopes.
  • Enjoy a picnic amid natural beauty.
  • Visit nearby Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi.

    Folk Art Center, Milepost 382

    The Folk Art Center showcases the finest in traditional and contemporary craft of the Southern Appalachians. It houses the Southern Highland Craft Guild's century-old Allanstand Craft Shop, exhibitions in three galleries, a library and an auditorium.

    The Guild's Permanent Collection is featured in an exhibition of craft from Appalachia. The Folk Art Center was opened in 1980 as a cooperative effort between the Guild, the National Park Service and the Appalachian Regional Commission.

    What to Do

    • Enjoy a series of educational events held year-round.
    • Observe daily craft demonstrations from March through December.
    • Peruse the Eastern National Bookstore with Parkway souvenirs.
    • Shop for unique hand-crafted treasures from southern Appalachian crafters.

      Parkway Visitor Center, MP 384

      Visitors traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway can now make one stop to learn about the entire 469 miles and 73-year history of the Parkway. The Parkway Visitor Center opened in 2008 and unveiled innovative, high-tech interactive exhibits. The LEED-certified building features active/passive heating and cooling, radiant floor heating, a "green" roof and other energy efficient features.

      What to Do

      • Enjoy the hands-on I-Wall, a 22-foot interactive map of the entire Parkway providing multi-media information on places to visit on and near the Parkway.
      • Explore exhibits that highlight the region's natural and cultural diversity, economic traditions and recreational opportunities.
      • Watch the movie "The Blue Ridge Parkway-America's Favorite Journey" shown hourly in high-definition surround sound, a 24-minute film capturing a father-daughter trip along the motor road that incorporates history and the region's contemporary sights and sounds.
      • Learn more about the Parkway at the information and book sales area.
      Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is free.

      Mount Pisgah, MP 408

      Mount Pisgah's spectacular views, hiking trails, camping and the Mount Pisgah Inn make this area a popular destination for visitors along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The mountain and thousands of surrounding acres was originally purchased by industrialist George Washington Vanderbilt in the late 1800s while building the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. Vanderbilt used the property as a private hunting retreat for family and friends.

      What to Do

      • Explore the nearby 16-mile Shut-In Trail (a National Recreation Trail), which is part of a longer route that Vanderbilt originally created for his hunting parties.
      • Hike to the summit of Mount Pisgah for breath-taking views.
      • Enjoy bird and wildlife watching.
      • Picnic amid natural beauty with a site offering grills, tables and restroom facilities (ADA accessible).
      • Stretch your legs and grab a snack or Parkway keepsake at a seasonal country store.
      • Enjoy a meal at the Pisgah Inn Lodge Restaurant.
      • Camp under the stars or respite at the Pisgah Inn.

      Waterrock Knob, MP 451.2

      An ideal spot for watching sunrise and sunsets across the rugged mountains, Waterrock Knob Visitor Center sits at almost 6,000 feet elevation. Exhibits, book sales, and a trail leading to the summit of Waterrock Knob await visitors. The last hiking trail along the Parkway on the way to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Waterrock Knob offers fantastic views both east and west from the parking area.

      What to Do

      • Explore the nearby 16-mile Shut-In Trail (a National Recreation Trail), which is part of a longer route that Vanderbilt originally created for his hunting parties.
      • Explore the visitor center and learn more about the site and the region.
      • Watch a majestic sunrise or sunset as light dances across the mountains.
      • Enjoy a hike to the top of the summit and witness breathtaking views of the Smokies and Maggie Valley.