In Virginia, the Parkway highlights the rolling agricultural scenery that is so much a part of the Blue Ridge. The main story here is how humans have interacted with the land in these mountains. Visitors are introduced to a variety of cultural sites and landscapes associated with communities in the southern Appalachians including evidence of human occupation from prehistoric to contemporary times. Early stories of tourism in the mountains and examples of arts, crafts, music, and social institutions of the region make a visit to the Virginia section of the Parkway one filled with lasting memories. Much of the road travels through US National Forest lands as well and, north of Roanoke, the drive is dominated by a ridge-top experience with magnificent views of the flora and fauna of Appalachian hardwood forests and sweeping vistas of the Great Valley of Virginia.
In North Carolina, the Parkway is overall higher in elevation and more spectacular in the natural history that is preserved along the way. The Grandfather Mountain corridor serves as a refuge for relic populations of plants. Remote natural areas and dramatic views less affected by human presence dominate the visitors' experience south of Asheville. Biological diversity is best understood here as a product of varied geology and topography. Cultural history stories also come into play with isolated cabins and magnificent country estates in close proximity. Visitors begin to realize how the Parkway has influenced change in the region.