We love to drive. I prefer to drive over any other mode of transportation. I know it's cliche but I love the freedom of the open road. The Blue Ridge Parkway, other than Big Sur in California, is becoming my favorite US drive. We explored a piece of it when we were in Asheville, NC two years ago and I still can't get enough. We were amazed that we "had" to pull off every five minutes. Each view outdoing each other. The must see Overlooks make for very slow but enjoyable travel.
The Blue Ridge Parkway like many of our National Treasures got its funding under Franklin D Roosevelt's vision to preserve our most precious resources for future generations by getting the country moving again in the new deal. I am a National Park junkie. Our National Parks represent what is good about our country. I am so proud of our National parks that I take personal ownership because really every United States citizen owns our National Parks. So if you haven't been to one give it a try. If you are on the East Coast the Blue Ridge Parkway is an excellent place to start and did I mention it's free. The beautiful thing is you can get on and off anytime you like. My Route 81, that takes me all the way home north, runs parallel to the whole Parkway. You can use Route 81 if you have to get moving faster and it is also a beautiful drive. We learned that 81 follows and old American Indian war trail and was used by immigrants to settle across the region.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is the "Spine" of the Appalachian mountains and connects Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 469 mile road starts in Virgina at the Northern entrance and snakes into North Carolina. This is why the views from every direction are so incredible. It is so refreshing to look over nature on The Blue Ridge Parkway "as far as the eye can see." The rare no development landscape reminds us that our country wasn't a manicured lawn parking lot but a wild jungle that belonged to nature. I imagine what it must of been like for over 300,000 Scots-Irish immigrants to travel and settle in this region.
Stoping at the visitors centers help to give you a sense of history. The best stop so far was at The Blue Ridge Music Center. We placed it in a must do status and we almost passed it by. The rich history of where the mountain music came from is artfully and lovingly on display and I wished I had 1 more hour there. The most fantastic thing about the music center was the live music. The music really brought the mountains to life and we both agreed the highlight of our day. We just happened on it and it was such a treat. The mountain music really transports you to the true mountains. The music displays this culture like nothing else can. Did you know the Banjo was created from an African instrument? The Buck Mountain Band had been playing for 11 years at the center and they are good!
The logistics of this drive is pretty simple and inexpensive. We have only spent some gas money to partake. The small towns along the route are gems and should be explored. We went at two different times of the year so far. Our first experience was in early fall when we had better weather for The Parkway and recently on a Monday in early August. Both trips we had no traffic at all. We did however have a half day wash out due to fog and rain in August. Weather is going to be everything for this trip. Look for clear days and do something else if there is rain and fog because you won't be able to see anything. This is why I always like to try different seasons for my travel destinations and or live where I want to vacation. When you live somewhere long enough you eventually get the best day for that area.
Here is our first view and its a fog out that you might want to try to avoid by watching the weather.
Sometimes our travels create more travels. We haven't properly explored the Blue Ridge Parkway yet and it is placed on vacation time and money worthy destination. It is so cool that I would even live here. I want to do it slowly and in it's 469 mile entirety. I also would like to check out the less traveled Skyline Drive that morphs into the The Blue Ridge Parkway just north. This might be a good road if the traffic is too heavy.
Now we can't decide on the next trip to The Blue Ridge Parkway our pickup truck with truck camping or a sports car convertible with bed and breakfasts or an RV vacation. We might do them all and compare. All three trips sound amazing and worth every penny. That's the great thing about learning a little about an area before you commit your vacation time and money to the area. We found nice little Bed and Breakfasts to try, great RV campgrounds to park at, secluded little camping spots, a car museum in Waynesboro to explore, shops, coffee cafes and eateries needing a visit and a whole lotta hikes, bike rides and water rafting to do. All activities are reasonably priced. We will be back.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most incredible drives really in the world but I do like to take a moment and say a prayer for the Native Americans and Appalachian Mountain people that were forced unwillingly to make the sacrifice to provide us today with one of our biggest National Treasure. Without their sacrifice there would be development everywhere and the priceless loss of nature. I am proud of our National Park but sometime not proud of our ways to obtain the means.