The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most scenic drives in the USA, meandering for 469 miles (755 km) and providing opportunities for enjoying all that makes this region of the country so special. The road runs along the famous Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains.
The road is asphalted. It was completed in 1987 and encompasses miles of stunning views through twisty hair pin corners, high elevations and steep grades. In some places, the Parkway has steeper grades than normally found on highways. Without paying close attention, your speed can increase far more than you expect. The Parkway's road shoulders are narrow in places so that the meadows or forest edges grow close to the pavement. This is part of the beauty of the drive, but may require some extra attention. The Parkway speed limit is mostly 45 mph, but occasionally it will drop to 25 mph or 35 mph. Some of the tight curves on this mountain road do not have a consistent radius so that extra care needs to be taken, especially on motorcycles. Just as there aren't many straight lines in the natural world, the Parkway was designed with gentle curves and not many straight sections. This is part of what makes the road seem to lie gently on the land and it also requires some extra care while driving. It is not unusual for small sections of the Parkway to be temporarily closed to repair damage caused by the cold winter climate of the mountains or for other maintenance. Detours caused by these closures are well-marked, and are arranged to cause as little disruption as possible. The Blue Ridge Parkway is open year round except for sections that may be closed due to ice and snow, storm damage, or for construction or maintenance activities. Many factors affect the removal of ice and snow, such as extreme temperatures, lack of sunlight in constantly shaded areas, or thawing and refreezing on bridges. This may cause some sections to be closed for extended periods in the winter. These sections are only opened when they are safe for travel. Some sections of the Parkway cannot be gated and closed, and visitors should exercise extreme caution when traveling in these areas during the winter. Weather-related closures can change quickly during the winter. It is best to call the information line both before and during your visit.
The drive is definitely worth it. There are many excellent photo opportunities here. Don’t forget your camera! Meandering 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, the Parkway follows the Appalachian Mountains and boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. A Blue Ridge Parkway experience is unlike any other, a slow-paced and relaxing drive revealing stunning long-range vistas and close-up views of the rugged mountains and pastoral landscapes of the Appalachian Highlands.