Frequently Asked Questions

If you need to report an emergency, please dial 911.


Do not rely on technology, as cell phones do not work in many locations along the Parkway and GPS is sometimes unreliable. Your safety depends on your own good judgement, adequate preparation, and constant attention.



Call the park information line at (828) 298-0398 for basic information about the Blue Ridge Parkway.

 
 

“What do I do if…?”

...I need to report a missing person or overdue hiker?
Contact the Comm Center (828-298-2491).

…my vehicle is disabled or I see a disabled vehicle?
Reports of disabled vehicles or vehicles out of gas should be referred to local roadside service or tow companies and the operator of the vehicle should contact them directly. Rangers do not deliver gas, pull vehicles from mud, or provide vehicle maintenance assistance. If the vehicle is blocking the roadway, contact the Comm Center (828-298-2491).

…I’ve located a dog that looks emaciated?
If the dog has a tracking collar, it must be left where it is. State laws in both VA and NC make tampering with hunting dogs and tracking collars a crime. The owners will be tracking and retrieving the dog. If there is a phone number on the collar, a courtesy call can be made to the owner.

If the dog has a normal collar with contact information, attempt to call the owner directly. If the dog does not have any collar or contact information, notify the Comm Center (828-298-2491) so they can contact the appropriate agency to retrieve the dog.

…I see a bear?
See our bear safety page. Report aggressive bears to the Comm Center (828-298-2491).
 

Background Information

Where, exactly, is the Blue Ridge?
The Blue Ridge is part of the Appalachian Mountains and stretches from North Georgia into Pennsylvania. The Parkway passes through several mountain ranges within the Blue Ridge – read more on our Natural Features and Ecosystems page.

Is the Blue Ridge Parkway a National Park?
The Blue Ridge Parkway is technically a national parkway, not a national park. However, both are operated by the National Park Service. Read more about National Park Service designations on our National Parks vs. National Forests page.

What's the difference between a National Park and a National Forest?
National parks and national forests have very different purposes, but together they provide a wide spectrum of uses. Read more about the difference between these two designations on our National Parks vs. National Forests page.

What is the difference between the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway?
The Skyline Drive is the 105 mile scenic road through Shenandoah National Park. At Afton Mountain in Virginia, the Skyline Drive heads north while the Blue Ridge Parkway heads south.

Why is the Blue Ridge "blue"?
Trees put the "blue" in Blue Ridge. Hydrocarbons released into the atmosphere by the forest give the mountains their distinctive color.

Why can't I see long distances from the Parkway like I used to years ago?
The earliest descriptions of the Appalachian Mountains noted the haze that radiates off of these mountains from the rich vegetation. Today, much of the haze is pollution from a variety of places in the Eastern United States. Read more about Air Quality on the Parkway.

Who built the Parkway?
The Parkway was an idea born out of the Great Depression and part of its purpose was to put as many people as possible to work. Private contractors, the state and federal highway departments, Italian and Spanish immigrant stonemasons, and thousands of Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees did the work. Read more about designing the Parkway and constructing the Parkway.

 

Visiting the Parkway

When are visitor centers, campgrounds and other facilities open?
Three facilities are open year-round: the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center near Asheville, the Folk Art Center, and the Museum of North Carolina Minerals. Most other facilities, including visitor centers, campgrounds, and picnic areas, are open spring through fall leaf color. See the opening schedule for specific dates.

Does the road itself ever close?
The road is open year-round, but sections may close from inclement weather or maintenance. Check the Road Closures Map for road closures by section and access to Parkway weather reports.

Is there a fee for visiting the Parkway? Can I use my National Park Pass?
There is no entrance fee for traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway. Fees are charged for camping, and Interagency Senior or Interagency Access Pass (or Golden Age or Golden Access passes) passholders are entitled to 50% off the camping fee. This discount only applies to the site that the passholder is physically occupying. Additional information about the America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.

 

Driving the Parkway

I'm not accustomed to driving in the mountains. How can I be safe?
Obey the speed limit and pull into overlooks to enjoy the scenery and let other drivers pass. A good rule to keep in mind is "enjoy the view, but watch the road!" Read more about driving safety.

What is a "decreasing radius curve"?
Most highways have curves with a standard radius that never changes. In other words, you do not have to adjust your steering through the curve. A decreasing radius curve may tighten as you go through it. This is a design feature of the Parkway, but requires some extra care.

Can I get my RV through the Parkway tunnels?
There are 26 tunnels along the Parkway, one in Virginia and the others in North Carolina, mostly south of Asheville. Check tunnel heights.

Where can I get gas or find lodging while traveling on the Parkway?
Download the Blue Ridge Parkway Directory and Travel Planner for information about services available in local communities.

Are dogs and other pets allowed on the Parkway?
Yes, dogs and other pets are allowed on the Parkway, but must be on a leash (not to exceed six feet) and under your physical control.

 

Things to Do

Where can I picnic?
Overlooks and established picnic areas are the best places to picnic. You may also picnic on the roadside, but you must be pulled completely off the road. North of Asheville, NC, the Parkway goes through the city watershed and off-road parking is not permitted where indicated by signs. Read more about picnicking on the Parkway.

Can I reserve a campsite?
All Parkway campgrounds, with the exception of Crabtree Falls, have sites that can be reserved at www.recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777.

When can I see the best fall leaf color?
Typically, fall colors develop during mid to late October. Many factors, however, contribute to variations in when and where colors will peak. Learn more about fall color.

When can I see rhododendron, mountain laurel, and azalea?
Catawba rhododendron (R. catawbiense) is the purple variety that blooms from early June around the Peaks of Otter in Virginia to the third week of June at Craggy Gardens in North Carolina. Any time between those dates, there are spots of this variety blooming. Rosebay rhododendron (R. maximum) is the larger white or pink variety that begins in mid to late June and blooms into July, primarily through Rocky Knob, VA. Flame azalea (R. calendulaceum), pink azalea or pinxter flower (R. nudiflorum), bloom early to late May in many Parkway areas. Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) blooms mid to late May and into June in higher elevations. See our bloom calendar for other flowers.

Will I see a bear?
Possibly. The Blue Ridge is "bear country" and seeing one of these magnificent creatures may be a highlight of your visit. Learn more about bears and bear safety.

How do I become a Junior Ranger?
Pick up your Junior Ranger Folder and instructions at any park visitor center and travel the Parkway to get site-specific activity sheets along your journey. You can also print junior ranger activity sheets from our website. There are ten different activity sheets for various areas of the Parkway.

Where can I get my National Park Passport stamped?
All open visitor centers have site-specific passport stamps. A list of all passport stamp locations along the Blue Ridge Parkway is available for reference.

Is there a place I can canoe on the Parkway?
Yes, at Julian Price Lake (Milepost 297), you may rent canoes or bring your own. Boating is not allowed in any other Parkway lakes

 

Protecting the Parkway

Why can't we pick flowers along the Parkway?
National park areas are set aside to preserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects for the enjoyment of all visitors. All plants, from the smallest flower to fallen trees, are part of the ecosystem that we are charged with protecting. Thanks for doing your part!

What can I do to help protect the Parkway?
Most of all, obey rules and regulations, and make your visit as low impact and responsible as possible. You can also volunteer at the Parkway. You may also want to contact the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, or the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, organizations that work with the Parkway to protect it.

 

Regulations

Are concealed weapons allowed on the Parkway?
Yes. Discharging a firearm on Parkway land is prohibited. Read more about concealed weapons on the Parkway.

Can a visitor open carry a firearm on the Parkway?
Yes. In accordance with applicable state law (VA and NC are open-carry states), a visitor may open carry a firearm on the Parkway, but they may not carry into any federal building or other federal area displaying signage that prohibits firearms.

Is hunting allowed on the Parkway?
No. Hunting is prohibited on all Parkway land. Hunters may access legal public and private game lands from the Parkway, but must do so by parking in designated parking areas/pullouts and walking in. Hunters are allowed to retrieve hunting dogs. Roadside parking is prohibited. A hunter wishing to transport game legally taken on land adjacent to the Parkway must call the Comm Center (828-298-2491) to request permission prior to transport.

Is camping or sleeping overnight in a vehicle in an overlook allowed?
No. Camping is only allowed in one of the Parkway’s eight designated camping areas. Sleeping in a vehicle overnight is not allowed for visitor safety.

Are backcountry campers and Appalachian Trail hikers allowed to leave unattended vehicles in overlooks overnight?
Yes. Anyone wishing to leave a vehicle in an overlook for approved camping/hiking purposes must contact the Comm Center (828-298-2491) either the day before or the morning of their excursion to advise detailed information regarding their excursion and vehicle.

Are there any natural resources that may be legally taken from Parkway land?
Yes. Visitors are allowed to take for personal use no more than one gallon per day of mushrooms, berries, and/or nuts found near the Parkway. Fallen branches found within 100 yards of a campground may be gathered and used for firewood in appropriate campground fire rings. The taking of any other natural resource at any time is strictly prohibited.

Are visitors allowed to take/cut fallen trees for firewood?
No. However, if a tree has been cut and neatly stacked by Parkway personnel, it may be taken first come, first serve. Wood gathering for use in park campgrounds is limited to dead material on the ground lying no more than 100 yards from the camp or picnic site.

Are visitors allowed to memorialize a deceased loved one on the Parkway?
Yes, with limitations. Signage, cairns, and other visible memorial markers are not allowed on Parkway property. A gathering of fewer than 25 people to spread cremated ashes is allowed without a permit with the following restrictions:
  • Spreading of ashes cannot be conducted within 100 feet of any Parkway road, trail, structure, or body of water.
  • Spreading of ashes cannot be conducted at Craggy Gardens or Graveyard Fields at any time.

Are dogs allowed on hiking trails?
Yes. However, all dogs must be on a leash and under direct control of the handler at all times.

Are Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) allowed on the Parkway?
No. A drone may not be launched from, retrieved on, or controlled by anyone who is on Parkway property. However, a drone may be flown over Parkway property as long as it is over 500’ above the ground at all times.

Are buses allowed on the Parkway?
Yes. Tour and school buses are allowed on the Parkway without a permit.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

199 Hemphill Knob Rd
Asheville, NC 28803

Phone:

(828) 348-3400

Contact Us