A Guide to North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Parkway

“Share the Journey” is the motto of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Originating as a public works project under FDR, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a winding scenic byway that threads through the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia.

The Parkway is open to the public, and if you live in the Carolinas, you’re missing out if you don’t go! Today we’ll talk about the NC portion and some of its best sights.

Overview/Getting There

From the Triangle, getting to the Parkway is easy. Your route depends on where you’d like to start your journey. For the Northern end, Boone – a small, quirky college town – is the easiest reference point. Just hop on Interstate 40, then US-421. You’ll see the parkway entrance shortly before entering Boone. For the Southern end, artsy and romantic Asheville is a straight shot down I-40.

Along the length of the parkway you’ll find numerous public trails and overlooks, perfect for a picnic or photo op.

Highlights

While there are far too many trails on the Parkway to mention, there are definitely a few must-see locations:

  • Rough Ridge Lookout: offering some of the best Parkway views in North Carolina, Rough Ridge sits about thirty minutes South of Boone. A short but very uphill hike leads to exposed rocks, a long wooden path and unique plants. It’s also close to the stunning Linn Cove Viaduct.
  • Sliding Rock: located near Brevard (about an hour South of Asheville), sliding rock is just that: a natural waterslide and swimming hole. It gets very busy, so get there early.
  • The Orchard at Altapass: about halfway between Boone and Asheville, the Orchard at Altapass is hard to beat for a family stop. You can pick your own apples, take a tour of the orchard, catch bluegrass music indoors, and purchase locally made goods in the store.
  • Grandfather Mountain: as one of the most famous sights in NC, Grandfather Mountain’s imposing ridgeline is visible for miles around. The privately owned park is best known for its mile-high bridge, a terrifying and beautiful suspension bridge between two peaks.

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