The majestic Blue Ridge Mountains are among the world's oldest. This ancient landscape is worn smooth compared to rugged terrain such as the Rockies. In the Grandfather Mountain corridor of North Carolina, however, motorists can ride among jagged outcroppings that have a unique look and feel, unavailable anywhere else along the Parkway.
The graceful nature of the Parkway can be attributed to the work of early landscape architects and engineers. These artists made certain that the road fit into the surroundings and became an integral part of the Appalachian landscape. The slow-paced, drive awhile and stop awhile experience is hard to find anywhere else in our fast paced culture.
Even in the nineteenth century, many Americans looked to the mountains as places of relaxation and restoration of body and spirit. Several generations of the Johnson family lived in the Peaks of Otter community and provided goods and services for the visitors to the Mons Hotel. Like many residents, the family improved the quality of their log cabin to include white washed siding.
Peter Givens photo
The Southern Appalachian region is among the most biologically diverse areas in the world. The tremendous variety of wildflowers blooming here, especially in May and June, attests to that. Common species grow in adjacent meadows, on rock outcrops along the roadside, and along shaded streambanks. Many of these can be seen from the comfort of your automobile, but for for a real Parkway experience, take a short hike down a trail and get an up close and person view!
People have lived in or visited these mountains for hundreds of years. Cabins, framed farm houses, grist mills, and an occasional elaborate vacation home have dotted the Blue Ridge landscape for generations. Some of these are open for visitors and offer the opportunity to learn and experience rural mountain life styles from the past.
Did You Know?
The Blue Ridge Parkway was designed as a recreational motor road, connecting Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Parks.