The Appalachian Mountains are among the oldest mountains in the world. They began forming about 270 million years ago, when the land masses that would become North America and Africa collided. The collision piled up masses of rock along the margin of North America to form the Appalachians.
The parkway passes through six mountain chains in the Appalachians. From Virginia, the first 355 miles follow the Blue Ridge Mountains. Near Asheville, North Carolina, the parkway winds through the Black Mountains, the Craggies, the Pigsahs, and the Balsams. The parkway ends at the Great Smokies in North Carolina.
The tallest peak in the Appalachians is Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina at 6,683 feet. Mt. Mitchell is also the highest point east of the Mississippi River. The highest elevation along the parkway road is 6,053 feet at Richland Balsam (Milepost 431) in North Carolina.
Last updated: January 14, 2021