Motorcycling is more than just a mode of transportation for many it’s a way of life! One of the best rides in the nation and one of the most visited national parks is the Blue Ridge Parkway of the Appalachia Mountains.
This country is renowned for its beauty. The Blue Ridge connects the Smoky Mountains of Virginia to Shenandoah National Park in North Carolina.
Many riders consider this a must-ride, where riding is out of this world thanks to the amazing sights, the curves and well-maintained roadway. The Blue Ridge Parkway starts (or ends) at Front Royal, Virginia and runs South to Cherokee, North Carolina.
While many love the views and sweeping curves, what draws enthusiasts is the fact that this tour features 469 miles free of stop signs and traffic lights and a road that’s as smoothly paved as it is beautiful, allowing riders the chance to really command the road. It attracts thousands of riders each year.
Construction began in 1935 and wasn’t completed until 1987 (52 years later). The addition of the Blue Ridge Parkway to the national parks system was initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of the public works program to build infrastructure and create jobs.
During WWII, most national building efforts were reduced and funds channeled to projects to support the war effort.
- Miles: 469
- Speed limit: 45 mph. The speed limit slows in developed areas.
- Roadway: Asphalt, concrete.
- Vehicles: No commercial vehicles allowed (except under certain circumstances and with prior approval).
- Tunnels: 26
- Weather: Areas of the route are closed during certain times of the year. Snow and ice during the winters. Check with visitor centers for seasonal and/or emergency closures.
- Cautions: Lots of curves. Maintain recommended speed limit and watch for animals.
Since The Blue Ridge Parkway is a national park, there are lots of hiking trail heads and other points of interest close to the highway. Most Visitor centers are open from May through October, with all points of interest open by the end of May. There are three visitor centers open year round.
Blue Ridge Parkway is marked with mile signs beginning at “0” (zero) in the North portion of the route. All mile market signs are on the right hand side traveling South.
|Museum of North Carolina Minerals||331|
|Folk Art Center||382|
|The Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center||384|
You can do this ride in one day. It’s possible, but not recommended. If you don’t have a choice, do it during daylight hours on a long summer day so that you still have time to stop at a few overlooks for some photos. If you aren’t in a hurry and want to really enjoy the experience, lodging and camping is available along the route. Less traffic happens during a weekday so if you’re crunched for time, skip the weekends.
Many riders recommend taking this trip over at least a two-day span. You don’t have to feel rushed and can spend more time at scenic stops of your choosing.
Gas, restaurants and lodging is all available, though not directly on the Parkway. Watch signs for exits onto U.S. and State Highways. It
Some eateries along the way (not exhaustive):
|Mabry Mill Restaurant||Meadows of Dan, VA||176|
|The Gap Deli at the Parkway||Fancy Gap, VA||199.5|
|Christa’s Country Corner General Store||Newland, NC||312|
|Park Vista Inn & Restaurant||West Jefferson, NC||268|
The National Parks Departments manages eight campgrounds along the Blue Ridge Parkway. General regulations include but are not limited to the following:
- Open May through October
- Tents must be on pads
- Maximum of 6
There is ample camping available on this route. B Use mileage posts as references for camping and service stops. Some of the campsites available include the following:
|Peaks of Otter||86.0|
|Julian Price Memorial Park*||297.1|
For more information regarding camping facilities, hours and services, be sure to visit the National Parks Service page on the National Parks Website.
“Blue Ridge Parkway.” Wikipedia, 20 April 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Ridge_Parkway. Accessed 9 May 2018.
“Blue Ridge Parkway Guide.” Virtual Blue Ridge, www.virtualblueridge.com. Accessed 9 May 2018.
“Operating Hours and Seasons.” National Park Service, 7 May 2018, www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/hours.htm. Accessed 9 May 2018.