Blue Ridge Parkway

Categories: Motorcycle Routes, Places of Interest, Scenic Drives, Fall Foliage - western North Carolina

Highlights

  • America's favorite and most visited parkway
  • Legendary views from elevations above sea level of 5,000 and even 6,000 feet
  • Many Points of Interest (POIs) along the parkway for the entire family to enjoy
  • Runs for just over 469 miles, Shanandoah Valley Virginia to Cherokee, NC
  • 26 tunnels to navigate through, causing this byway to be closed in the winter months due to ice

Description

The Blue Ridge Parkway was constructed from 1935 to 1987, 52 years total.  The last section to be completed was the Linn Cove Viaduct, near Grandfather Mountain and was completed in 1987.  The Blue Ridge Parkway runs from Shenandoah Valley's "Skyline Drive" in Virginia to U.S Highway 441, just outside of Cherokee, NC, a total of just over 469 miles.
Along the southern portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway is where you'll have the best views and experience the largest accumulation of tunnels.  The Blue Ridge Parkway's tunnels were created from blasting through solid rock.  There are a total of 26 tunnels along the parkway in all, with 25 of them located in NC and one located in VA.
Blue Ridge Parkway views are often the main reason for a visit.  With elevations of up to over 6,000 feet above sea level, the views can go on for days and days.  The parkway's highest peak, "Richland Balsam Mountain" stands at 6,035 feet above sea level, just past/near milepost 431.
The Blue Ridge Parkway's mileage system is made up of "mileposts."  These mileposts are located on the right-hand side of the south-bound lane and located on the left-hand side of the north-bound lane.  They are concrete "posts" and they have blue numbers etched into them.  Using the mileposts is great way to navigate along the parkway to find the wonderful points of interest like:  hiking trails, waterfalls, camping opportunities, overlooks, picnic areas, etc.  We use them on this site to pinpoint our favorite and recommended areas.

The Local Scoop

A few of our recommended "Mileposts" and "Points of Interest" along our favorite stretch of The Blue Ridge Parkway (469-418):

No matter your selection, you can't go wrong along The Blue Ridge Parkway.  We would also like to strongly suggest that you plan on having a picnic lunch while cruising along the parkway.  There are numerous locations for a picnic and the park service provides picnic tables and trash cans at many of the pull-offs.  Enjoy!
NOTE:  No major interstate highways intersect the parkway.  Instead, short secondary roads are used to connect the two; this allows for an uninterrupted experience for natural and scenic beauty. U.S. Highways that can be accessed from certain sections of the parkway are (from South to North):  441, 74/23, 215 & 276  It also should be noted that NO gas can be found along the parkway, so please make sure you are gassed up before you start your trek.  Exits close to the highways mentioned above allow for access to refuel or to take care of emergency stops.  If you do experience an emergency along the parkway call:  1-800-PARKWATCH 

The Local Directions

To access our favorite sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway, you have two main choices while on "the quieter side."

First, you can access the parkway just outside of Cherokee, NC.  This is milepost 469 and the end (or beginning) depending upon how you want to look at it of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Simply take U.S. Highway 441 North from downtown Cherokee, heading towards Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Second, you can access the parkway from off of U.S. Highway 74/23 between Sylva, NC and Waynesville, NC.  To pick the parkway up from Sylva, head East/North on U.S. Hwy 74/23 for 12 miles and watch for the brown parkway sign.  The entrance will be on your left heading in this direction.  Once you access and pass through the open gate, you'll reach the top of the hill at the parkway.  Here, you'll have two choices:  head South towards Cherokee and Great Smoky Mountains National Park for 26 miles to milepost 469 OR head North towards Asheville and the remaining 443 miles to Virginia.  You are at Milepost 443.

Note:  To reach the suggested mileposts above (with the exception of Waterrock Knob) head North towards Asheville. 

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Coordinates
35.505531, -83.30084  
(Cherokee- U.S. Hwy 441) 
35.438025,-83.076623
(Sylva- U.S. Hwys 74/23)
Access
Easy via either U.S. Hwy 441 or 
U.S. Hwys 74/23 
State
North Carolina
Distance From
Cherokee:  3.2 miles
Sylva:  12 miles