BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY
A Scene on the Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia-North Carolina
The Four Seasons
What to Do and Where
Mile Posts, Special Information, Entrances
Blue Ridge Parkway by Sections:
Shenandoah National ParkRoanoke, Va.
Roanoke, Va. North Carolina State Line
Virginia State LineLinville River, N. C.
Linville RiverGreat Smoky Mountains National Park
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, J. A. Krug, Secretary
BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY
Blue Ridge Parkway, high road through Virginia and North Carolina, designed especially for the leisurely tourist, represents a new conception in roads. It is not an express parkway of the type built about the big cities, but a quiet way through a distinctive part of the American scenea road intended for gypsy-like travel on the ride-awhile, stop-awhile basis.
You travel the Southern Highlands, a land of forested mountains, exquisite during the flower of spring, cool in the green summer, colorful in the red autumn. The stretches of woodland, the clustered mountains, and the views out to the lowlands are enlivened by the fields and pastures of highland farms, where split rail fences, weathered cabins, and gray barns compose the "hill culture."
Not all is completed of this scenic parkway, the first of its kind to be developed by the Nation; but long portions are paved and were enjoyed by more than a million visitors last year.
Among the national parks in the East are Shenandoah, in northern Virginia, and Great Smoky Mountains, in North Carolina and Tennessee. One of the purposes of the Parkway is to connect these wilderness areas over a mountainous distance of nearly 500 miles. The Parkway, about two-thirds completed, leads through an "elongated park" which protects a roadside of varied highland character. The roadway slopes are naturalistically planted in many places with rhododendron, azalea, white pine, and other native species. Parking overlooks to the side are convenient balconies. Along the Parkway at intervals are recreational areas with picnic grounds, campgrounds, trailer sites, and hiking trails which lead to exhibits of unspoiled nature and to spots of native folk lore.
The Four Seasons
The four seasons are definite in the southern mountains, each with qualities which set it apart. The Parkway motor road is open the year round, but is not recommended for winter travel.
SPRING is the favorite season of many in the Blue Ridge, for nowhere is there a greater show of native flowers. In mid-April the shadblow blooms, lacy white on the hillside; but the real procession starts in early May,pink azalea, dogwood, redbud. In mid-May the flame azalea appears like fire through the undergrowth. Purple rhododendron, native of certain areas in Virginia and prevalent in North Carolina south from The Bluffs, are next to bloom (late May to mid-June). The mountain-laurel is everywhere and breaks during June. The white to pink rhododendron comes later in June and lingers well into July. There are many spring and summer blooming shrubs and ground flowers in the wild places along the Parkway. Among these is the galax,glory ground cover of the Southern Appalachians.
SUMMER in the Blue Ridge is a refuge from the warm temperatures, the altitude accounting for as much as five degrees of coolness per thousand feet. The eastern mountains, forest covered, are notable for their summer greenery. The intermittent highland valleys are a changing color pattern of growing corn, buckwheat, rye.
AUTUMN comes to the highlands later than you might think. The sumac, gums, the famous southern sourwood, turn brilliant red early in October, but are usually not joined by the colorful display of the hardwoods until the last part of the month, even early November.
WINTER sometimes comes suddenly to the Blue Ridge. Travel then becomes uncertain at best. Ice storms, persistent fogs, and blustery winds make it so. There are many times when the mountains are clear and beautiful, but we advise local inquiry about travel conditions during the winter months before venturing on to the Parkway.
What to Do and Where
Motoring.Blue Ridge Parkway is meant to serve this American pleasure. In the course of a motor trip along the Parkway, plans should include a stop at one of the several recreational areas for a picnic lunch. Here comfort stations and drinking water will be found from April 15 until the first freeze, usually mid-October. In these areas we suggest a leg stretcher along an easy trail, or there are short trails leading from many of the parking overlooks to selected vantage points.
Picnicking.Picnic areas, ideal for the family group, include parking spaces, tables, fireplaces, drinking water, and refuse cans. These areas are designated on the maps by the Parkway emblem.
Tourist Facilities.Gas stations are being constructed at Rocky Knob, The Bluffs, and Crabtree Meadows. The one at The Bluffs will be ready during the 1949 travel season. Others are located within a short distance of the Parkway on the more important State highways.
At Cumberland Knob, Mile Post 219, there is a sandwich shop operated during the travel season by National Park Concessions, Inc. This company will also operate the coffee shop and lodge being built at The Bluffs, but these facilities may not be available until well into the 1949 travel season.
At the Peaks of Otter, Mile Post 86, a sightseeing bus service is offered by the Peaks of Otter, Inc., from the Parkway to the top of Sharp Top, one of the famous twin Peaks of Otter. Sandwiches, soups, and other like items are sold at the bus station during season.
Tourist facilities along the Parkway are being planned only where accommodations are not reasonably convenient in the towns and cities nearby. For information about accommodations and points of interest in the Blue Ridge Parkway vicinity, write to the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce, Richmond 19, Va., or the State News Bureau, Raleigh, N. C.
Camping.At Rocky Knob in Virginia and The Bluffs in North Carolina are trailer sites and campgrounds. There you will find tent platforms, fireplaces, garbage receptacles, drinking water, and comfort stations. Camping supplies are not available. Length of stay is not limited.
Hiking.Trail systems have been developed in the Parkway recreational areas. At The Bluffs there are more than 20 miles of foot trails, and in each of the other areas from 3 to 5 miles. Grades are easy and can be walked comfortably.
Photography and Painting.The Parkway opens to you a photogenic and paintable country. Flowers, mountains, valleys, streams, wildlife, and the hill farms are fine subjects.
Fishing.This is trout country. Rainbow and brook trout haunt many streams up and down the Parkway. State licenses are required. Outside the Parkway boundary State laws apply. Within the Parkway boundary special regulations, covering creel limit, bait, and season, prevail. The season in North Carolina lasts from April 15 through August 31, and in Virginia from April 20 through July 31.
Golfing, Swimming, Tennis.Facilities for this type of active sport are not provided on the lands of Blue Ridge Parkway, but the Parkway is a convenient way to reach resort areas where there are fine mountain golf courses, tennis courts, saddle horses, lakes, and swimming pools.
Several State areas and forests and portions of the national forests, through which the Parkway winds, have many recreational developments within easy reach of the Parkway.
The Mile Posts
Interpretive signs carrying the squirrel gun and powder horn symbol will be found at various points along the Parkway where there is a legend, old building, or place of scientific interest.
North of the James River the Parkway winds through large sections of the George Washington National Forest. This scenic route is very spectacular where it crosses the high cliff sections of Humpback Mountain. Purple rhododendron blooms here in early June. Through this region, too, are glimpses of isolated mountain farm groups, as well as distant views to the fertile "bread basket of the Confederacy" in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
The Parkway is paved from Rockflsh Gap south for nearly 46 miles to U S 60. Three small bridges along this route are being constructed, but traffic is maintained with little inconvenience to the traveler.
The Parkway section south of the James River to Roanoke features the lowest point on Blue Ridge Parkway, 670 feet elevation, where it will cross the river, and Thunder Ridge, where it climbs to almost 4,000 feet. South a few miles are the famed Peaks of Otter. This spectacular section lies partly through the Jefferson National Forest.
The famous Appalachian Trail, making its way from Maine to Georgia, touches the Parkway at several points. For detailed information, write the Appalachian Trail Conference, 1916 Sunderland Place, NW, Washington 6, D. C.
Shenandoah National Park conserves a large section of the Virginia Blue Ridge (74 miles southwest of Washington, D. C.). Well known for the Skyline Drive, a road wholly within that park but connecting with the Blue Ridge Parkway at Rockflsh Gap, Shenandoah also has many miles of developed foot trails and varied tourist accommodations. For complete information, address Superintendent, Shenandoah National Park, Luray, Va.
From Adney Gap (19 miles south of Roanoke byway of U S 221) the Parkway is paved south to the State Line and beyond to Deep Gap near Boone and Blowing Rock. This section of Parkway through lower Virginia is notable for its pictures of mountain farming. The Blue Ridge here is a high rolling plateau which breaks in a sharp escarpment toward the east and the lower Piedmont. The Parkway generally follows the crest, which is the water divide between Atlantic and Gulf drainage, affording occasional fine views over the low country. In other places the Parkway recedes into wooded and pastoral valleys of quiet charm.
The northerly 60 miles shown finished on the map facing this page, like the section north toward Roanoke, thread a country remarkable for its mountain fields and pastures; but the country is more rugged, the Blue Ridge becoming more defined and higher. It is completed as to landscaping between the State Line and The Bluffs. A sandwich shop is open at Cumberland Knob.
Sixty miles of Parkway are available southward from Linville. From Deep Gap, near Boone, it is not far to Blowing Rock and Linville, resort towns at the edge of Grandfather Mountain. This "patriarch," elevation 5,939 feet, is one of the oldest, shaggiest mountains of the Appalachians. The road across Grandfather, US 221, is known as the Black Bear Trail (Yonahlossee in the language of the Cherokee).
The Parkway between Linville Falls and Asheville traverses one of the great mountain sections of North Carolina where the Blue Ridge, the Blacks, and the Craggy Mountains merge. Mount Mitchell, 6,684 feet in elevation, and the highest peak in the East, is prominent from the Parkway. The large holdings of the Mitchell Division of the Forest Service and the Asheville Watershed have protected the area from despoliation.
Last Updated: 03-Mar-2009