Extend The Experience: Blue Ridge Parkway

May 29, 2020Book Of The Week, Extend The Experience

Blue Ridge Parkway 

The Blue Ridge Parkway meanders for 469 miles through the hills, mountains, and pastoral landscapes of the Southern Appalachian Highlands. The Blue Ridge Parkway road trip experience provides visitors with regional history, mountain culture, and outdoor activities like hiking and camping. There’s something for everyone to enjoy and explore. 

Book of the Week

This week’s book of the week is America’s National Parks a Photographic Journey .

The images of breathtaking historical and natural wonders captured in this week’s book of the week had us feeling inspired to explore. What better place to start than with the park on the cover, the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway? Join us for a virtual road trip on “America’s Favorite Drive”! We’re going to stop at some of the BRP’s most beloved destinations to learn more about the history, culture, and outdoor adventure found in some of the world’s oldest mountains. We’ll pick up a few items from the Park Stores along the way to commemorate the adventure. 

Know Before You Go

When you’re exploring the park that has everything, you have to be ready for anything! Elevation changes quickly on the Blue Ridge Parkway. From the Parkway’s lowest point of 649 near the James River in Virginia to its highest at 6,053 at Richland Balsam in North Carolina, be prepared for chilly temperatures even in the middle of June! Take a look at these frequently asked question for more tips from the park. 

Humpback Rocks (Milepost 6)

Five miles from the park’s northern entrance, the Humpback Rocks recreation area provides visitors a grand preview of what the BRP has to offer. Visitors can tour historical mountain farm buildings, take in some live outdoor music, and hike a steep trail to the area’s namesake outcroppings for a dizzying vista of the sweeping Shenandoah Valley.  

Peaks of Otter (Milepost 86)

The Peaks of Otter is another park-within-a-park that offers a number of ways visitors can experience the Parkway. Hike up to picturesque Sharp Top Mountain, step back in time with living history at Johnson Farm, or just relax and go fishing at Abbott Lake (named for the Parkway’s main architect – Stanley Abbott).  There’s a historical lodge where we can stay the night! 

Blue Ridge Music Center (Milepost 213)

Where the Crooked Road meets the Blue Ridge Parkway you’ll find the Blue Ridge Music Center. Learning about the origins of bluegrass and old-time music at the Roots of American Music exhibit gives us the perfect soundtrack for our adventure. The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation (another nonprofit partner of the Parkway) hosts an annual summer concert series in the amphitheater. Check out this playlist of artists scheduled to perform in 2020. 

Cone Manor (Milepost 294)

We’ve left the rolling hills of Virginia behind and started to climb to higher elevations in North Carolina. At the Moses H Cone Memorial Park, you can explore the mountaintop estate and tour historic Cone Manor, and learn the fascinating history of the textile magnate who built it. 

Linn Cove Viaduct (Milepost 305)

Construction on the Blue Ridge Parkway was started in 1935, but it took more than 50 years to build! The famous Linn Cove Viaduct was considered an engineering marvel in 1987— and it was the last piece of the Parkway puzzle 

Craggy Gardens (Milepost 364)

After passing Mount Mitchell, the tallest point east of the Mississippi, you’ll be ready to explore the enchanted trails of Craggy Gardens. Either of its two short hikes through wind sculpted forests can lead to an unforgettable experience – a stunning 360degree view or a rare grassy bald filled with native Catawba rhododendron. Let’s do both!  

Folk Art Center (Milepost 382)

For centuries, handicrafts were a way of life for many of those living in the remote coves of southern Appalachians. At the Folk Art Center, visitors can see these proud crafting traditions on display every day. Woodworkers, broommakers, weavers and many others can be found demonstrating handmade crafts. After a visit to the Folk Art Center, we can stop at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center two miles down the road (milepost 384) to check in with a ranger and watch the park film! 

Waterrock Knob (Milepost 451)

The grand finale of our Blue Ridge Parkway adventure is Waterrock Knob. The hike up to the 6,273 summit offers a 360-degree view of federally protected national forests and the majestic Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Before we get back in the car to exit the Parkway in Cherokee, North Carolina (home the of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation), let’s stop in at the visitor center and talk to a ranger about our journey! 

Bonus Park
Ranger Content

The Blue Ridge Parkway provides access to hundreds of miles of hiking trails in beautiful mountain forests. Check out these National Park Service resources to help you safely enjoy the outdoors. (Look for a cameo from one of the park store rangers!) 

Junior Ranger Content

Complete this virtual scavenger hunt and download your virtual Junior Ranger badge—print it out and color it in yourself! 

Passport Virtual Cancellation 

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a journey through some of the most rugged, rare, and breathtaking scenery in the United States—it’s also a journey into the past. Explore the complex and fascinating history behind the building of the most visited unit of our national parks – from contentious politics to innovative construction techniques to the mountain communities it impacted. This Driving Through Time website is a comprehensive look at the history of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and it’ll earn you a virtual Passport stamp for your collection! 

Shop The Experience

What a trip! And there’s still so much left to see. Check out these items to commemorate the experience and inspire your next visit to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Your purchases support education and interpretation in the parks. 

Blue Ridge Parkway WPA
Travel Poster

Blue Ridge Parkway
Logo Ornament

Blue Ridge
Parkway Hat

Support The Experience

A picture of Highland Lighthouse, Truro MA

Support Your Parks

If you are passionate about education and your national parks, consider a gift today. Your gift of $10 or more will make more books available online for free and allow us to reach new audiences with the stories of our history, culture, and environment that your national parks preserve.

New Ways to Celebrate Passport® 35

New Ways to Celebrate Passport® 35

Let’s get this party started! Since 1986, the Passport To Your National Parks® program has helped millions of visitors discover America’s treasures, while helping to protect them for future generations. Now visitors can celebrate 35 years of Passport with two...

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