Interesting Facts About Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Park which provides an interesting drive for people who want to vacation for a week, weekend, or just a day.

The road was designed to make use of scenic mountaintop views in the southern Appalachia region of Virginia and North Carolina.

There are local bed and breakfast facilities along with campgrounds and primitive campsites for people who want to spend more than a day on the route.

Although many people also enjoy simply driving a short section of the Parkway to spend a few hours one afternoon.

There are plenty of interesting places to find and explore along the route, which can be fun for people who enjoy more active vacations than just driving.

History

The Blue Ridge Parkway was begun in 1936 as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Second new Deal package.

Most of the construction was conducted by private contractors, providing jobs in the area as they built new roads and developed existing ones to become what is now known as one of the most historic drives in America.

craggy garndes blueridge parkway
Ken Thomas, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Scenic overpasses provided views of the Appalachian Mountains as visitors could park and picnic in the open areas.

One of the issues at the time was how the Parkway does not allow for commercial use.

The local farmers had to find side roads to deliver their harvests.

Further, in keeping with the concept of providing a scenic drive for locals and tourists, new laws were made about how land in the area could be developed, meaning landowners were unable to build on their own land without special permission.

Such rules were not received kindly by local people, but were accepted and have now become the status quo people understand and abide by.

Route

The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles long in total, ending at U.S. Route 441 in the south.

The area is in southwest N.C., between the Smoky Mountains National Park and the border of the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

The route starts at Rockfish Gap in northwest VA and goes through Shenandoah as part of Virginia State Road 48.

The entire route can be driven in as few as three days, although it can easily take over a week for people who want to stop along the way to enjoy the scenery, points of interest, and nearby local events.

Visitor Center

At mile marker 384, near Asheville, NC., the visitor center is an interesting place to visit.

It’s run by the National Park Service to provide information about the route and recommend points of interest along the way.

It provides historic information which is designed to appeal to adults while being educational for children of all ages.

It’s a great place for families to stop and learn about the Blue Ridge Parkway and all the exciting things to see along the way.

Blue Ridge Music Center

The Blue Ridge Music Center is located at milepost 213, and is essentially a second visitor center with a museum and music stage.

The center is open from May through October, hosting local musicians who play bluegrass, folk music, old time music, gospel, and in some cases traditional versions of blues rock.

These are music types which are traditional to the area and is offered for free to anyone who is interested.

The museum displays historic exhibits related to the music associated with the Appalachian Mountains and features famous historic musicians who spread the music to the rest of the country through radio or album releases.

Scenic Day Parking

All along the Blue Ridge Parkway are small parking lots with picnic tables or places to spread a blanket.

The spots are designed to give a view across the different valleys and understand why the mountains are referred to as Blue Ridge.

The skyline has been preserved in its natural state without homes or buildings to disrupt the view.

Conclusion

The Blue Ridge Parkway can be a lot of fun to drive, and just as much fun for intellectuals to research before and afterwards.

It’s impossible to describe everything there is to be done, as small events pop up in the surrounding areas on different weekends, and interesting spots and views are around every turn.

It’s certainly worth taking the time to plan a trip and enjoy what it has to offer while being pleasantly surprised at finding new opportunities and favorite spots with each trip.

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