BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY
Appalachian Mountains, Virginia and North Carolina
Blue Ridge Parkway
199 Hemphill Knob Road
Asheville, NC 28803
Scenic view from Blue Ridge Parkway
Introduction to the Site as a Cultural Landscape: Recognizing Cultural and Natural Resource Values
Zigzag fence creates short-distance view.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile linear cultural
landscape that was constructed between 1935 and 1987.
It is important historically because it was the first
national rural parkway to be conceived, designed, and
built as a leisure driving experience. The landscape
architects and engineers who designed the roadway did
so to maximize motorists' appreciation for the natural,
cultural, and scenic qualities of the southern Appalachians.
No other park in the country better represents the art
of parkway design and construction as practiced in the
1930s, or has maintained the Blue Ridge Parkway's integrity
for historic landscape design. The richness, significance,
and integrity of its built fabric led a 1993 draft historic
resource study to suggest that the parkway be placed
on the National Register of Historic Places as a continuous
historic district including the 226 historic buildings,
sites, and roadway structures along its length. While
the parkway has not been formally nominated to the National
Register, it is treated as eligible for planning and
for environmental and cultural compliance purposes.
The parkway's character also includes scenic views encompassing
dramatic panoramas of mountain ranges and vernacular
landscapes—pastoral scenes with rolling farmland,
rail fences, old farmhouses, and churches—representative
of the agricultural history of the region. While it
is likely that significant archaeological resources
lie within the park, a comprehensive archaeological
survey and inventory have not yet been initiated due
to a lack of funding.
The parkway follows the crests and ridges of five major mountain ranges in the central and southern Appalachians, and lies at an elevation ranging from 600 to 6,000 feet above sea level, encompassing several vegetative zones. Wildlife is abundant in the park; foxes, opossums, groundhogs, white-tailed deer, and an occasional black bear can be seen. The land along the parkway also provides habitat for less easily seen wildlife such as reptiles and amphibians. More than 100 species of birds migrate through the area in the spring. Park lands are home to 1,250 vascular plant species, 25 of which are rare and endangered, and 4 rare and endangered animal species. The park also encompasses 21 natural heritage areas and relatively uncommon high elevation mountain bogs.