36 CFR §1.5 Visiting Hours, Public Use Limits, Closures, and Area Designations for Specific Use of Activities

(a)(1) The following visiting hours and public use limits are established for all or for the listed portions of the park, and the following closures are established for all or a portion of the park to all public use or to a certain use or activity:


  • All campgrounds, picnic areas and public visitor facilities may be partially or completely closed from November 1 through May 1 each year because of potential damage to water lines from freezing and periodic road closures due to snow and ice.

  • All maintenance yards and equipment storage areas are closed to public use and access. All such areas signed as “Authorized Personnel Only” fall under this closure order.

  • Maintenance yards and equipment areas present serious safety hazards to persons entering. Only current Blue Ridge Parkway employees or those directed/escorted by them are permitted within these sign-designated areas.

  • Heintooga Spur Rd. Closed from first impacting weather event after December 1 through April 1.

  • This area lies at approximately 5000 ft. elevation and during the winter is subject to accumulation of snow and ice. In addition, trees and rocks frequently fall into the road as a result of winter storms. This road receives little traffic but does provide access to existing BIA road system near the boundary with Great Smoky Mountains NP. During normal operations, Great Smoky Mountains NP closes their section of the Heintooga Rd from Nov. 1 to May 10. It is determined that the Parkway managed section of the road will be closed as needed from Dec 1 thru April 1 to better protect the visitor and the resource, while still providing as much access as safely possible.

  • Sections of the Parkway motor road may be closed periodically to protect employees and visitors during new construction, reconstruction, repair and maintenance. Areas closed to all public access will be posted with appropriate signage.

  • Areas of new construction and reconstruction or rehabilitation may be closed to visitors for safety reasons and to avoid unreasonable conflict with authorized work.

  • Climbing, rappelling, and any other similar activity:

    • Is prohibited on any man-made structure (bridge, building, tower, etc.)

    • Recreational rock climbing, rappelling, and ice climbing are prohibited within 100 feet of any established trail and 50 feet of any road unless such road has been closed to vehicular traffic.

  • Structures were not constructed to facilitate climbing and rappelling, and such activities may create unreasonable risk of injury to participants and others as well as cause damage to structures.

  • Climbing in open areas would create a risk of personal injury to others or property damage resulting from rocks or other debris being dislodged or damage to critical natural or cultural resources.

  • Except for the Parkway motor road, established parking overlooks and the Mountains to Sea Trail, all lands within the Asheville Watershed area closed to public use and occupancy.

  • By agreement, Asheville Watershed land is closed to access, except for the motor road and overlooks, in order to protect water quality.

  • Ice skating, sledding, walking, or otherwise entering upon any frozen Parkway lake or waterway for any purpose is prohibited.

  • No Parkway waters are deemed safe for recreational ice activities. Ice accidents would result an unacceptably high life-safety risk to participants and to potential rescuers.

  • Ice climbing of frozen water falls is permitted, provided access to the climbing ice does not require access across frozen lake or waterway for purposes of this restriction, although climbing on the upper portion of Ice Rock is prohibited if the motor road is open to vehicle traffic.

  • Superintendent may close any portion of the Parkway to motor vehicle use during periods of ice, snow, or any other hazardous condition, or based on forecasts of such impending weather.

  • The Superintendent may affect road closures during or prior to impending inclement weather or during periods of other hazardous conditions in order to ensure public safety. These closures are posted in real time and available to the public via the Parkway webpage and Live Map feature: http://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/roadclosures.htm

  • Entering the Linville River between the upper and lower falls and any impoundment of the Linville River within Parkway boundaries is prohibited.

  • The Linville River has proven to be particularly hazardous to waders over the years. Several fatalities have resulted from waders being swept over the falls. Also, such activity poses an unacceptable risk to potential rescuers.

  • No special interest group or persons issued a special use permit shall occupy an overlook or parking area so as to prevent its use by Parkway visitors wishing to participate in other recreational activities.

  • Activities that are carried out under special permit could result in entire parking areas or overlooks being filled to capacity, thus denying parking opportunity to all other visitors, and resulting in a serious user conflict. Activities that may result in such conditions will not be permitted and may be adjusted if conditions warrant.

  • The Devils Courthouse area, defined as all National Park Service lands: south from Devils Courthouse Parking Overlook at Milepost 422.4 along the unofficial Devil's Courthouse Creek drainage trail to the 5,200 foot contour, east along the 5,200 foot contour over Devils Courthouse Ridge to Chestnut Creek drainage, north up the Chestnut Creek drainage to the Parkway motor road, west along the Parkway motor road to Devil's Courthouse Parking Overlook, is closed to all visitor use with the following exceptions: Public access will be permitted on the maintained foot trail from the motor vehicle parking area to the summit and that part of the summit that is enclosed by the rock wall. This closure does not apply to employees, cooperators and researchers authorized by the Superintendent.

  • The Devil's Courthouse area is closed to protect botanical resources at the site. A review of alternatives and final determination has concluded this level of action is necessary to mitigate human impacts on rare plants existing at the site.

  • The former social trail from the Yonahlossee Overlook to the rock outcropping, Milepost 303.9, is closed. The maintained trail directly from the overlook to/from the viaduct remains open.

  • Leaving the Craggy Pinnacle Trail to include the summit upper and lower overlooks, Milepost 364.2 is prohibited.

  • Human trampling has significant impacts to the fragile and globally rare plants that occur in this area.

  • Thomas Mine AKA: Balsam Mine, Parkway Mine and area surrounding, is closed.

  • Access to the Shiprock climbing area, Milepost 303.2 is restricted. Access to climbing routes shall be from the base of the rock along the motor road only. Access to climbing routes from the top is prohibited.

  • Pedestrian and climbing use on these trails and in these areas must be confined as the most effective means to protect critical and highly vulnerable plant communities that contain several federal and state listed rare or endangered plant species. Human trampling constitutes the single greatest threat to these plants.

  • The summit of Fishers Peak from the vehicle gate on Fishers Peak Road to the summit, to include the area around the radio repeater buildings and towers, is closed from sunset to sunrise. This area is closed to all unauthorized vehicle, pedestrian, horse, bike, and ATV traffic.

  • This area is closed from sunset to sunrise to prevent vandalism and other criminal activity.

  • The Roanoke Mountain Loop Road at Milepost 120.3 and Milepost 120.4 is closed to all motorized and wheeled (bicycle) travel. The outbound lane from summit to exit is closed to all use and access.

  • The loop road was closed under emergency order in 2018 due to a land slide and road failure along the outbound lane. There is no timeline for these repairs to be completed. As the loop road is one lane in width it cannot support simultaneous two-direction travel by vehicles and this same condition creates a safety concern with bicycle travel. Foot travel is considered acceptable under current conditions for up and back travel along the inbound lane only.

  • Access to the wooded area at the Roanoke Basin Overlook, Milepost 112.9, is prohibited. This area is defined as the wooded area adjacent to the east side of the asphalt parking lot and extending to the NPS boundary, excluding the Roanoke Valley Horse Trail.

  • This area is closed to prevent litter accumulation, vandalism, and damage to the resource.

  • Access to the wooded islands in the following overlooks is prohibited:

    • Coyner Mountain Overlook, Milepost 107

    • Reed Mountain Overlook, Milepost, 109.8

  • These areas are closed to prevent litter accumulation, vandalism, and damage to the resource.

  • Pedestrian traffic is prohibited on the Linn Cove Viaduct, Milepost 304- 304.4 when the motor road is open to vehicular traffic and not subject to a closure to all visitor access or use.

  • Pedestrian use of the Linn Cove Viaduct is unsafe due to hazards from motor vehicle traffic and the lack of space to establish safe walking zones.

  • Public access to the interior of the Linn Cove Viaduct structure is prohibited. Access is authorized for employees, inspectors, contractors, and approved researchers as necessary for the maintenance of the structure, to promote public safety, and to facilitate approved research.

  • Access doors are difficult and possibly dangerous to access without proper equipment. The interior has been occupied by an endangered species of bat during certain times of the year. Interior has been subject to illegal activity in the past including vandalism, illicit drug use, underage drinking, littering, unauthorized camping and fires, and occult activity.

  • The following locations are closed to visitor use from one half hour after sunset to one half hour before sunrise.
    • Afton Mountain Overlook at Milepost 0.1
    • Rockfish Valley Overlook at Milepost 1.8
    • Shenandoah Valley Overlook at Milepost 2.9
    • Stewart’s Knob Overlook at Milepost 110.6
    • The Roanoke Mountain Loop Road at Milepost 120.3

    • The Roanoke Mountain Picnic Area at Milepost 120.4 (1.3)

    • Orchard’s Overlook at Milepost 444.6
    • Smart View Picnic Area at Milepost 154.5
    • Groundhog Mountain Picnic Area at Milepost 188.8
    • Cumberland Knob Picnic Area at Milepost 217.5
    • Fox Hunters Paradise Overlook at Milepost 218.6
  • These areas have experienced an increase in illegal activity including disorderly conduct, alcohol consumption, and illegal drug use to the point where diligent enforcement of existing regulations will not adequately address the problem. Closing the area to all visitor activity during hours of darkness limits opportunities to conduct illegal activities.
  • The Sharp Top Mountain Road at the Peaks of Otter developed area is closed to all foot and vehicle traffic during the shuttle’s operating season. This includes: bicycles, coasting devices, pack animals, hikers, etc. The Sharp Top Mountain parking area is closed to overnight parking
  • The Sharp Top Mountain Road is designed and designated for use by the concession operated tour bus. The road is extremely narrow, steep, and with numerous sharp blind curves. It is unsafe for anyone to be on this road surface while the bus is operating on the road. This road also serves as the emergency access to Sharp Top Mountain area. It is frequently used for emergency medical and rescue operations. The operation of emergency vehicles on this road poses a threat to other vehicles and people using the road. The Sharp Top Mountain parking area does not serve any areas where overnight camping is permitted.
  • Drivers of commercial passenger-carrying diesel-fueled motor vehicles are prohibited from idling their engines in all developed areas and at all parkway overlooks.
  • The noise and fumes caused by these engines severely impacts the natural experiences sought by many visitors.
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

    • Launching, landing, operating an unmanned aircraft from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of the Blue Ridge Parkway is prohibited except as approved in writing by the Superintendent after necessary recommendation and review by the NPS Office of Aircraft Services (OAS).

    • Private and/or Recreational UAV use requests will not be approved.

  • The issuance of special use permits for private and/or recreational UAV use has not yet been determined to be an appropriate use within the Blue Ridge Parkway. Until a formal review process can make this determination, no permits will be considered or issued.
  • The term “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” or “UAV” means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the device, and the associated operational elements and components that are required for the pilot or system operator in command to operate or control the device (such as cameras, sensors, communication links). This term includes all types of devices that meet this definition (e.g. model airplanes, quadcopters, drones) that are used for any purpose, including for recreation or commerce.
  • The following closures apply to the grounds of the Blue Ridge Music Center during the times and periods listed:
    • During music center events in which tickets are sold for attendance: The amphitheater, parking areas, stage, stage road, and area within the gated grounds are closed to non-ticket holders from one hour before to one hour after the scheduled event time. (Closure does not apply to staff and musicians)
  • Justification: When the Music Center is not holding ticketed events, the area around the music center is open to pedestrian traffic after normal business hours. Non-ticketed individuals would have ability to walk or drive into otherwise open are to view the concert. Formal restrictions on entry during ticketed events is necessary for the proper administration and operations of the concert venue.

(a)(2) Public Use Restrictions

  • Occupancy

    Under the authority provided to the Superintendent in 36 CFR 1.5, the following public safety restrictions are effective immediately, until further notice:

    In localities where risk levels for Covid-19 transmission remain high, certain facilities will have posted occupancy limits for shared indoor spaces. Visitors must comply with any posted occupancy limits. Entering or remaining in any of the indoor locations identified after being asked not to enter or to leave the location because the maximum occupancy has been reached is prohibited.

  • Mask Wearing

Regardless of vaccination status or local community transmission levels, all individuals over the age of two must wear masks, except when actively eating or drinking, in all common areas and shared workspaces in federally owned buildings administered by the National Park Service and in office space leased by the National Park Service.

Federally owned buildings administered by the National Park Service include, but are not limited to, visitor centers, administrative offices, maintenance facilities, and shared government quarters; buildings assigned to concessioners or other park partners; and buildings leased for commercial purposes to individuals or entities other than the National Park Service.

All individuals over the age of two, regardless of vaccination status or local community transmission levels, must wear masks in the following outdoor areas when others are present, except when actively eating or drinking, where the superintendent has determined that physical distancing (staying at least six feet apart) cannot reasonably be maintained:

  1. Campground amphitheaters or other interpretive locations when being used for presentations and/or public programs (including permitted activities)
  2. Any area of extended, physically concentrated use to include (but not limited to):
  • Craggy Pinnacle Summit
  • Linville Falls Viewing Area
  • Rough Ridge Summit
  • Devil’s Courthouse Summit
  • Humpback Rocks Summit
  • Sharp Top Summit and shuttle staging areas

Masks must cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly around the nose and chin with no large gaps around the sides of the face. Masks not designed to be protective, masks with ventilation valves, and face shields do not meet the requirement.

Regardless of vaccination status, all individuals must comply with all orders regarding masks issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC prevention measures continue to apply to all travelers on public transit, regardless of vaccination status. Masks remain required on all forms of public transit that operate within parks, including buses, trains, and boats/ferries, and in transportation hubs.

This restriction is put in place pursuant to CDC issued guidance on Tuesday, July 27th. On July 28, 2021 NPS instituted DOI guidance that fully vaccinated individuals must wear a mask in public indoor settings if the park site is in an area of substantial or high community transmission. This requirement applies to all employees; visitors; on-site contractors; concessioner staff; commercial use authorization holders; non-residential lessees and sublessees and their customers, visitors, or guests; and other partners using or occupying federal facilities, regardless of vaccination status.

Any area open to visitation may be subject to short term crowding and high levels of use. In most of these areas visitors can easily take actions to increase physical distancing to the extent mask use would not be required in an outdoor environment to meet public safety objectives. At the locations listed above, and similar locations where visitor volume, geography, and/or infrastructure limit the physical movement of people and available space capacity, mask wear will be required and subject to enforcement. Application of the public use restriction in this manner provides clarity of understanding to both the public and NPS personnel on outdoor face mask enforcement expectations.

  • Filming: The following types of filming activities may occur in areas open to the public without a permit and without advance notice to the NPS:
    • Outdoor filming activities involving five persons or less and equipment that will be carried at all times, except for small tripods used to hold cameras.

      The organizer of any other type of filming activity must provide written notice to the Superintendent at least 10 days prior to the start of the proposed activity. Based upon the information provided, the Superintendent may require the organizer to apply for and obtain a permit if necessary to:

• maintain public health and safety;

• protect environmental or scenic values;

• protect natural or cultural resources;

• allow for equitable allocation and use of facilities; or

• avoid conflict among visitor use activities.

If the Superintendent determines that the terms and conditions of a permit could not mitigate the concerns identified above in an acceptable manner, the Superintendent may deny a filming request without issuing a permit. Superintendent will provide the basis for denial in writing upon request.

The NPS will consider requests and process permit applications in a timely manner. Processing times will vary depending on the complexity of the proposed activity. If the organizer provides the required 10 day advance notice to the NPS and has not received a written response from the NPS that a permit is required prior to the first day of production, the proposed filming activities may occur without a permit.

The following are prohibited:

(1) Engaging in a filming activity without providing advance notice to the Superintendent when required.

(2) Engaging in a filming activity without a permit if the Superintendent has notified the organizer in writing that a permit is required.

(3) Violating a term and condition of a permit issued under this action. Violating a term or condition of a permit issued under to this action may also result in the suspension and revocation of the permit by the Superintendent.

  • Telemetry: The display and/or use of radio telemetry equipment or similar electronic tracking devices (such as GPS devices and smart phone apps) used to track wildlife and hunting dogs is prohibited in the park and may only be used to expedite the retrieval of a dog(s).
    • Permission to use this equipment to retrieve a loose dog(s) does not exempt a person from any other regulation or law. Persons with a valid Research Permit are exempted from this requirement

  • Radio telemetry is an efficient method of catching a dog that has entered the park. Radio telemetry can also be used to track wildlife or to facilitate a hunt by tracking dogs in pursuit of wildlife. This restriction is intended to address the specific use of telemetry as a means of hunting which is expressly prohibited within the boundaries of the Parkway.
  • GPS devices are a common form of navigation used for many legal recreational activities. GPS devices can also be used to track wildlife or to facilitate a hunt by tracking dogs in pursuit of wildlife. This restriction is intended to address the specific use of GPS technology as a means of hunting which is expressly prohibited within the boundaries of the Parkway.
  • When engaged in an active and otherwise legal hunt that utilizes any form of electronic tracking technology for wildlife or dogs, persons may not utilize these systems/devices while within Parkway Boundaries. Persons must move to an area outside of the parkway boundaries to conduct any hunt-related tracking or activities.
  • Bear Pepper Spray: Also known as bear deterrent, bear repellant or bear spray, may be carried on the Blue Ridge Parkway by individuals for the strict purpose of protecting one's self or others from bodily harm against aggressive wildlife. It should not be applied to people, tents, packs, or other equipment or surrounding areas as a repellant. Bear Pepper Spray must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency. It must be commercially manufactured and labeled as "Bear Pepper Spray." Bear Pepper Spray must contain between 1% and 2% of the active ingredients capsaicin and related capsaicinoids.
  • Special Use/Commercial Use Closures: The following areas are closed to the issuance of any Special Use Permit or Commercial Use Authorizations (except where noted) based on inherent sensitive resource protection issues and consistently high levels of concentrated visitor use:
  • MP 176.2 - Mabry Mill historic area (Weddings/special events are permitted in the grass area in front of the Mill pond)
  • MP 302.8 – Rough Ridge Overlook and boardwalk
  • MP 305.2 – Beacon Heights left fork trail (Weddings/special events are permitted at the end of the right fork trail)
  • MP 316.4 – Linville Falls
  • MP 339.5 – Crabtree Falls
  • MP 364.1 – Craggy Gardens Pinnacle Trail, Pinnacle Scenic View, and Craggy Dome Parking Area (Weddings/special events are permitted at the Craggy Flats Bald)
  • MP 418.8 – Graveyard Fields
  • MP 422.4 – Devil’s Courthouse
  • MP 451.2 – Waterrock Knob

Index to Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent's Compendium

Last updated: August 23, 2021

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