Linn Cove Viaduct - Milepost 304

Linn Cove Viaduct surrounded by fall color
Although you cannot stop or walk along the viaduct, several overlooks and hikes give spectacular views of this engineering feat.

NPS photo

 
To protect the fragile habitat of Grandfather Mountain, Parkway planners designed the Linn Cove Viaduct. This award-winning complex concrete bridge is a symbol of pride to landscape architects and engineers for its marriage of beauty with utility and habitat protection. Visitors here will gain an appreciation for the care that was taken in construction of the entire Parkway. Learn more about the history and construction of the Linn Cove Viaduct.
 

The Blue Ridge Parkway is the work of landscape architects who meticulously planned a road that would blend with the environment in a gentle flowing way. Bridges are an important part of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s design concept. There are 176 bridges on the parkway: 10% of all the road bridges in the National Park Service. Bridges are the largest structures on the parkway and have to be functional in addition to visually appropriate.

The Linn Cove Viaduct is the most famous bridge on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Design began on the Linn Cove Viaduct in the late 1970s. The challenge was to complete the final section of the parkway around the natural environment of Grandfather Mountain without damaging it. Engineering firm Figg and Muller Engineers, Inc and general contractor Jasper Construction, Inc used 153 pre-cast concrete segments to build the viaduct. This famous bridge is 1,234 feet long and was completed without a single structural problem. There was not one crack in any of the pre-cast concrete segments.

The Linn Cove Viaduct was completed in 1982 and then work began on curbing and grading the roadway around it. The viaduct was opened to the public in 1987 completing the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway.

Although the Linn Cove Viaduct is the most famous parkway bridge, others deserve recognition too. Two other bridges go around Grandfather Mountain. Stack Rock Creek Bridge has one pier where spans join to support the 283 foot bridge. The curves of this bridge are an integral part of its design to blend with its surroundings. Wilson Creek Bridge, also a Grandfather Mountain bridge, was built with a simple pier design because of the delicate rock ravine below. The bridge's structure allows the sunlight to sustain plant growth on the ground beneath.

Other significant Blue Ridge Parkway bridges include the Linville River Bridge, finished in 1940. This is the largest stone-faced bridge constructed on the parkway. The Linville River Bridge is 103 feet long with three arches or spans. It is unique because the stonework covers all concrete used to build the bridge.

At milepost 215, at the intersection of the parkway and Chestnut Creek, is the only double span bridge, built in 1951. Where the Blue Ridge Parkway crosses Interstate 77 a four span bridge was built. This bridge was designed to control the visual experience of the otherwise overwhelming intrusion of the interstate highway below.

There are also other viaducts on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Six steel girder viaducts were built between 1937 – 1942 to carry the parkway over large ravines. An example can be found at Round Meadow Creek (milepost 179.3).

While the Linn Cove Viaduct won 8 national design awards and is the most photographed bridge, all 176 bridges are important to the design concept of the Blue Ridge Parkway

 
Tanawha Trail boardwalk over fragile habitat on Rough Ridge.
Boardwalks on the Tanawha Trail at Rough Ridge protect the fragile environment and give excellent views of the area.

Harold Blackwood photo

At a Glance:

  • Visitor Center

  • Historic architecture/ parkway design

  • Hiking trails

Points of Interest:

Linn Cove Viaduct Visitor Center: Talk to a ranger for information and to grab a map. Closed for repair; check the opening schedule for reopening information.

Linn Cove Viaduct: Drive across the last section of the Parkway to be completed, a true engineering feat. Although visitors are not allowed to walk along the viaduct, several overlooks and trails provide excellent views.

Sleeping and Eating:

The Linn Cove Viaduct has no sleeping or eating options. See nearby towns for accommodations. On the Parkway, Linville Falls is nearby for camping.

Things to Do:

Hike a Trail: The Tanawha Trail, a Cherokee word meaning fabulous hawk or eagle, is a 13.5-mile hike that connects Julian Price Park to Beacon Heights hiking area. Hike a portion or the whole trail to get excellent views of the Linn Cove Viaduct, Grandfather Mountain, and surrounding area. See the Tanawha trail page for more information.

Last updated: December 26, 2022

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