Often called "America's Favorite Drive", the Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles of gentle curves, easy ascents and descents, and incredible vistas at overlooks through Virginia and North Carolina.
The Parkway connects Shenandoah National Park near Waynesboro, Virginia with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, North Carolina. There are entrances and exits at all major federal and state highways; there is no fee to ride the Parkway. Interstates in the area include 26, 40, 64, 77, and 81 and all have signage for accessing the Parkway.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a "ride awhile and stop awhile" kind of place. A motorcycle ride down the Parkway should include time for stopping at the overlooks, visitor centers, and turnouts to admire the mountain top views, the meadows full of native flowering plants, or a mountain lake or stream. Don't be in a hurry! Enjoy the view as much as the ride!
The Parkway is marked every mile by concrete mileposts beginning at MP 0 near Shenandoah NP and ending at MP 469 at Great Smoky Mountains NP. The Parkway speed limit is 45 mph unless otherwise posted.Although most of the Parkway is not known as a challenging ride, be aware of tight, spiraling curves that can sneak up on the unobservant motorcyclist.
Traffic can be heavy during peak seasons of summer and fall, especially on the weekends. If possible, plan to travel during the weekdays.
Scattered along the Parkway are four lodges, Peaks of Otter (Milepost 86 and the only year-round facility on the Parkway), Rocky Knob Cabins (MP 174), Bluffs Lodge (MP 240), and Pisgah Inn (MP 408 and the highest elevation lodging on the Blue Ridge at over 5,000 feet). Even if staying on the Parkway is not in your plans, plan to have a meal in at least one of the lodges; you won't leave hungry or disappointed. In addition to the lodges, seasonal restaurants are in operation at Otter Creek (MP 63), Mabry Mill (MP176), Bluffs Coffee Shop (242), and Crabtree Meadows (MP 340).
The Blue Ridge Parkway is celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2010. Many local communities along the Parkway are celebrating with a variety of events culminating with a September 10-12 celebration at Cumberland Knob and the Blue Ridge Music Center near the North Carolina and Virginia state line. In addition, many visitors' centers will take donations to celebrate this milestone anniversary at a suggested rate of one penny for every mile you expect to ride on the Parkway. For instance, if you are riding the entire length of 469 miles, your donation would be a paltry $4.69 - a bargain indeed!
Some fun and interesting facts about the Blue Ridge Parkway:
- Construction on the Parkway began in the Great Depression as a way to put as many people to work as possible and was a part of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Groundbreaking took place in September 1935 and work was contracted and completed in sections. By World War II, about one-half of the road was completed and by the 1960s, all but one section was opened to the public. In 1987, the last section was completed around Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina - the Linn Cove Viaduct.
- There are twenty-six tunnels on the Parkway.
- The Parkway ranges in elevation from 649 feet at James River in Virginia to almost 6,000 feet at Richland Balsam, south of Mount Pisgah in North Carolina.
- The Parkway travels through twenty-nine counties and contributes two billion dollars each year to the revenue of North Carolina and Virginia.
- The Parkway is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the world with about 100 varieties of trees, 1,600 plant species, 54 mammals, and 159 species of birds. The Parkway also provides critical habitat for over 50 threatened and endangered plant species.
Whatever your plans are when traveling east of the Mississippi River, make sure to motorcycle on the Blue Ridge Parkway; you won't be disappointed.
From your innkeeper at The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast - we have 5 couples on Harley's here last night and this morning. We are the half way point of The Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia - we offer paved private off street parking, a 130' southern style wrap around porch with white wicker, rockers and hanging ferns for riders to relax! All rooms have private baths, cable TV, central A/C and your room comes with a hot home cooked breakfast and great coffee!
Reminiscing as our guests rode off today "Like a well oiled machine...they rode, they drank, they slept, they ate, they checked out, they started 'em up and they rode away...The Blue Ridge Parkway"
VIRGINIA IS FOR BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY LOVERS