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Traveling The Length Of Skyline Drive And The Awesome Blue Ridge Parkway!!
Map Overview - States Traversed By and surrounding Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway
Travel this road if you ever get the chance! You will not regret it.
Since I have traveled the entire length of this 469 mile spectacular FAMOUS Parkway, I can personally attest that It will hold you in awe every mile of the way!
The FABULOUS JOURNEY begins!
For STARTERS, The Blue Ridge Parkway is a fantastic scenic drive of 496 miles. Seamlessly coupled to SKYLINE DRIVE starting further north in northern Virginia with a length of 105 miles, you have a combined length of 601 miles of driving scenic pleasure. Well worth the experience. I did this entire two roads piecemeal over several years and enjoyed every moment of the experience. You can just about make your driving segments as long or as short as your time permits. That means if you are anywhere near these two roads you can plan a daytrip type of drive to enjoy a segment.
Enjoy the story journey. Some history of these roads follows along with my narrative built in to tell the story of how I did it.
The Blue Ridge Parkway was built to connect Shenandoah National Park in the North, running to The Great Smokey Mountains to the South. In the North, it is linked seamlessly and coupling up with SKYLINE DRIVE. As previously mentioned, Skyline Drive is a 105 mile road through the entire length of the National Park Service's Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Please note that there are user fees charged at the entry point and good for use within a seven day period. Speed limit on this road is 35 mph. Cost is $15 for a seven day pass and $30 for a year long pass for Skyline Drive only. There are no access fees for the Blue Ridge Parkway. Add the 105 miles of Skyline Drive length to the 496 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway and you have a glorious scenic experience awaiting you like I did. It took me several years to accomplish covering both Skyline Drive AND the Blue Ridge Parkway in chunks for the total epic experience!
The roads are TWO SEPARATE ENTITIES and were built as two different projects and managed by two different National Park Service Units. The Blue Ridge Parkway was built to connect Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. The Parkway itself is NOT a "National Park" but has been the most visited unit of the National Park System every year since 1946 except one (1949). Land on either side of the road is owned and maintained by the National Park Service and in many places the land is bordered by United States Forest Service property.
The parkway runs through twenty nine Virginia and North Carolina counties, mostly along the Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains. It's southern terminus is on the boundary between Great Smokey Mountains National Park and the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina. It took over 52 years to complete this roadway! The last stretch opened in 1987.The road's numerous tunnels were constructed through tough mountain rock, one tunnel in Virginia, and twenty-five tunnels in North Carolina. Sections of the Parkway may be closed in Winter due to weather conditions. Conditions change very rapidly in the wintertime especially and forcing closure of sections of the road..
The highest point on the parkway is south of Waynesville, (near Mount Pisgah) in North Carolina. Elevation is 6053 feet on Richard Balsam Road at milepost 431. The parkway traverses streams, railway ravines and cross roads via 168 bridges and six viaducts. The overlooks and lookout pullover points are so numerous I could not even stop at many of them because they occurred so frequently. The outlooks occur every few miles and each has a spectacular view with signage explaining the overlook scenery and area history. (Personally, I can't wait to get back and do some more touring and exploring of this magnificent roadway! That will happen when I finally get my travel trailer. In the meantime, I currently live very close to the parkway and can do many daytrips.)
Researching the internet represents having the ability to discover a rich trove of information and enable you to construct a perfect itinerary not only for day tripping but also for vacationing folks that are also travelling in a RV and being able to live around the clock as they tour the parkway. You can always get off the parkway of course to see the many local attractions along the way. There is PLENTY TO SEE AND DO!!
The parkway runs from the southern terminus of Shenandoah National Park's Skyline Drive in Virginia at Rockfish Gap to US Route 441 at Oconaluftee in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park near Cherokee, North Carolina. There is no fee for use of the parkway however commercial vehicles are prohibited without approval from Park Service HQ near Asheville, NC.
I travelled this parkway mostly in very good weather conditions and therefore never encountered a closed portion. The weather is extremely variable in the mountains, so conditions and closures can change very rapidly. This especially applies to the Wintertime.
Speed demons beware! The speed limit is never higher than 45 mph the entire length and it is lower in some sections! Please be aware that the entire drive itself is a very twisty, winding, turning road in addition to climbing up or coming down the very many mountains along the way. Hence the need for low speed limits for the sake of safety.
Milepost numbers start at zero at the northeast end beginning in northern Virginia and count to 469 in North Carolina. Those markers are located on the west side of the road.
Regardless of the season, the flora and fauna is always plentiful and beautiful, depending on season and the many views are just one spectacular view after another with very many lookouts and overlooks along the way (I could not even count them all). The parkway crosses over into North Carolina at mile 216.9.
As mentioned, there are so many overlooks and lookouts that I could not stop at many of them. They occur every few miles or so. Each has fantastic vantage points, local history, and those always magnificent and spectacular views (As previously mentioned, I can't wait to be able to get back and do more touring on this magnificent roadway) as there is so much to see and do even though I have traversed it's entire length!)
Note too that I did all my trips "truck camping" in my SUV. I don't have a family to be concerned with so it made travelling like that very easy. If you are a family however, I am sure you will want to research, note, and plan your trip to determine where there are lodges and other accommodations along the way including improved or totally rustic camping sites that are available while in route on your journey. The many lookouts are pretty sizeable and most accommodate large travel trailers for the RV trailer and motorhome travelers. The "camping out experience" allows you to see the spectacular sunrises and sunsets over the length of this road. I saw many myself.
Hope to see you on the this grand parkway sometime soon!