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The BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY is a National Parkway and All-American Road
Road
in the United States
United States
, noted for its scenic beauty. The parkway, which is America's longest linear park , runs for 469 miles (755 km) through 29 Virginia
Virginia
and North Carolina
North Carolina
counties, linking the Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains
Great Smoky Mountains
National Park. It runs mostly along the spine of the Blue Ridge
Ridge
, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains . Its southern terminus is on the boundary between Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
and the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina, from which it travels north to Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park
in Virginia
Virginia
continues on as Skyline Drive , a similar scenic road which is managed by a different National Park Service unit.

The parkway has been the most visited unit of the National Park System every year since 1946 except three (1949, 2013, and 2016). Land on either side of the road is owned and maintained by the National Park Service
National Park Service
and, in many places, parkway land is bordered by United States
United States
Forest Service property. The parkway is on North Carolina's version of the America the Beautiful quarter in 2015.

CONTENTS

* 1 History * 2 Ecology along the parkway

* 3 Route description

* 3.1 Highlights in Virginia
Virginia
* 3.2 Highlights in North Carolina
North Carolina

* 4 Closures * 5 Major intersections * 6 See also * 7 References * 8 Further reading * 9 External links

HISTORY

View south at the north end of the parkway at Rockfish Gap, Virginia
Virginia

Begun during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt , the project was originally called the Appalachian Scenic Highway. Most construction was carried out by private contractors under federal contracts under an authorization by Harold L. Ickes
Harold L. Ickes
in his role as federal public works administrator. Work began on September 11, 1935, near Cumberland Knob in North Carolina
North Carolina
; construction in Virginia began the following February. On June 30, 1936, Congress formally authorized the project as the Blue Ridge
Ridge
Parkway and placed it under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Some work was carried out by various New Deal
New Deal
public works agencies. The Works Progress Administration did some roadway construction. Crews from the Emergency Relief Administration carried out landscape work and development of parkway recreation areas. Personnel from four Civilian Conservation Corps camps worked on roadside cleanup, roadside plantings, grading slopes, and improving adjacent fields and forest lands. During World War II , the CCC crews were replaced by conscientious objectors in the Civilian Public Service program.

The parkway's construction created jobs in the region, but also displaced many residents and created new rules and regulations for landowners, including requirements related to how farmers could transport crops. Residents could no longer build on their lands without permission or develop land except for agricultural use. They were not permitted to use the parkway for any commercial travel but were required to transport equipment and materials on side roads.

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
were also affected by the parkway, which was built through their lands. From 1935 to 1940, they resisted giving up the right-of-way through the Qualla Boundary
Qualla Boundary
, and they were successful in gaining more favorable terms from the U.S. government. Specifically, the revised bill "specified the parkway route, assured the $40,000 payment for the tribe's land, and required the state to build regular highway through the Soco Valley" (the highway referred to is part of U.S. Route 19 ). Cherokee
Cherokee
leaders participated in the dedications when the Cherokee
Cherokee
sections opened in the 1950s.

Construction of the parkway was complete by the end of 1966 with one notable exception. The 7.7 miles (12.4 km) stretch including the Linn Cove Viaduct around Grandfather Mountain
Grandfather Mountain
did not open until 1987. The project took over 52 years to complete.

ECOLOGY ALONG THE PARKWAY

Flowering shrubs and wildflowers dominate the parkway in the spring, including rhododendrons and dogwoods , moving from valleys to mountains as the cold weather retreats. Smaller annuals and perennials such as the daisy and aster flower through the summer. Brilliant autumn foliage occurs later in September on the mountaintops, descending to the valleys by later in October. Often in early-to-middle October and middle to late April, all three seasons can be seen simply by looking down from the cold and windy parkway to the green and warm valleys below. October is especially dramatic, as the colored leaves stand out boldly and occur mostly at the same time, unlike the flowers .

Major trees include oak , hickory , and tulip tree at lower elevations and buckeye and ash in the middle, turning into conifers such as fir and spruce at the highest elevations on the parkway. Trees near ridges , peaks , and passes (often called gaps or notches) are often distorted and even contorted by the wind, and persistent rime ice deposited by passing clouds in the winter.

ROUTE DESCRIPTION

The Blue Ridge
Ridge
Parkway tunnels were constructed through the rock—one in Virginia
Virginia
and twenty-five in North Carolina
North Carolina
. Sections of the parkway near the tunnels are often closed in winter. (Due to dripping groundwater from above, freezing temperatures, and the lack of sunlight, ice often accumulates inside these areas even when the surrounding areas are above freezing.) The highest point on the parkway (south of Waynesville , near Mount Pisgah in North Carolina
North Carolina
) is 6053 feet or 1845 m above sea level ( AMSL ) on Richland Balsam Mountain
Mountain
at Milepost 431, and is often closed from November to April due to inclement weather such as snow, fog, and even freezing fog from low clouds. The parkway is carried across streams, railway ravines and cross roads by 168 bridges and six viaducts. Farm at the Humpback Rock

The parkway runs from the southern terminus of Shenandoah National Park 's Skyline Drive in Virginia
Virginia
at Rockfish Gap to U.S. Route 441
U.S. Route 441
at Oconaluftee in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
near Cherokee
Cherokee
, North Carolina. There is no fee for using the parkway; however, commercial vehicles are prohibited without approval from the Park Service Headquarters, near Asheville, North Carolina
North Carolina
. The roadway is not maintained in the winter, and sections which pass over especially high elevations and through tunnels are often impassable and therefore closed from late fall through early spring. Weather is extremely variable in the mountains, so conditions and closures often change rapidly. The speed limit is never higher than 45 mph (72 km/h) and lower in some sections.

The parkway uses short side roads to connect to other highways, and there are no direct interchanges with Interstate Highways (though current plans for Interstate 73 take it along current US 220 at its parkway interchange), making it possible to enjoy wildlife and other scenery without stopping for cross-traffic. Mileposts along the parkway start at zero at the northeast end in Virginia
Virginia
and count to 469 at the southern end in North Carolina. The mileposts can be found on the right-hand side of the road while traveling southbound on the parkway. Major towns and cities along the way include Waynesboro , Roanoke , and Galax in Virginia; and in North Carolina, Boone and Asheville , where it runs across the property of the Biltmore Estate
Biltmore Estate
. The Blue Ridge
Ridge
Music Center (also part of the park) is located in Galax, and Mount Mitchell (the highest point in eastern North America ) is only accessible via a state highway (NC 128 ) from the parkway at milepost 355.4.

HIGHLIGHTS IN VIRGINIA

Mabry Mill The view from Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway East Fork Overlook from Blue Ridge
Ridge
Parkway

* Mile 0 Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro , Virginia
Virginia
, is the northern end of the Blue Ridge
Ridge
Parkway. To the north the parkway connects directly to Skyline Drive , which winds 105 miles (169 km) through Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park
. * 5 to 9.3 Humpback Rock has a self-guiding trail through a collection of old Appalachian farm buildings. A hiking trail from the parking area (at mile 6.1) leads 0.75-mile (1.21 km) to The Rocks, whose humped appearance gives the area its name. Greenstone self-guiding trail (8.8). * 10.7 Ravens Roost offers vistas of Torry Mountain
Mountain
and the Shenandoah Valley
Valley
to the west. The overlook is built above a cliff, so it is frequently used for rock-climbing and hang-gliding . There is also a single picnic table. * 16 Sherando Lake is a recreation area in George Washington National Forest 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from the parkway via VA.814. Swimming , picnicking , and camping . * 29 Whetstone Ridge
Ridge
provided many a mountain man with a fine-grained sharpening stone . * 34.4 Yankee Horse
Horse
Ridge
Ridge
supposedly is where a hard-riding Union soldier 's horse fell and had to be shot. A reconstructed spur of an old logging railroad provides access to Wigwam Falls. * 58 to 63.6 Otter Creek runs 10 miles (16 km) down the Blue Ridge to the James River . Otter Lake (63.1), fishing , trail. * 63.8 The James River and Kanawha Canal
James River and Kanawha Canal
is where a footbridge leads across the river to the restored canal locks and exhibits. A self-guiding trail follows the river bluff. * 71 Onion Mountain's short loop trail leads through rhododendron and mountain laurel . * 83.4 Fallingwater Cascades can be seen along a 1.6-mile (2.6 km) loop trail. * 84 to 87 Peaks of Otter are three mountain peaks which have been popular viewing sites since the days of Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
. A shuttle bus provides service to Sharp Top. * 114.9 Roanoke River
Roanoke River
Gorge is visible after a short walk. * 120.4 Roanoke Mountain
Mountain
is a 3.7-mile (6.0 km) side trip. A one-way loop road, with steep grades, crosses over the mountain. Towed vehicles are prohibited. * 129.6 Roanoke Valley
Valley
Overlook gives a view of the largest community along the parkway. * 154.5 Smart View is named for having "a right smart view." A nearby cabin built in the 1890s is known as a spot for viewing dogwood blooms in early May. * 167 to 174 Rocky Knob overlooks Rock Castle Gorge. * 176.1 Mabry Mill was operated by E.B. Mabry from 1910 to 1935. A trail leads to his gristmill , sawmill , blacksmith shop, and other exhibits. Old-time skills are demonstrated in the summer and fall. * 188.8 Groundhog Mountain
Mountain
has a variety of rural fences: snake , Post-and-rail , picket and buck . Picnic grounds and observation tower are also nearby. * 189.1 Groundhog Mountain * 189.9 Aunt Orelena Puckett Cabin Exhibit was the home of an area midwife. * 213 Blue Ridge
Ridge
Music Center near the town of Galax with concerts, music demonstrations, and a 17,000-square-foot (1,600 m2) museum dedicated to anything musical, especially old time music .

HIGHLIGHTS IN NORTH CAROLINA

Blue Ridge
Ridge
Parkway in autumn near Looking Glass Rock Black Balsam Knob , Graveyard Fields and Yellowstone Falls as seen at sunrise from Milepost 419 Sign marking the southern end of the Blue Ridge
Ridge
Parkway, near Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Blue Ridge
Ridge
Parkway featured in the 2015 America the Beautiful Quarters series

The Blue Ridge
Ridge
Parkway crosses the North Carolina
North Carolina
- Virginia
Virginia
state line at mile 216.9. The 1749 party that surveyed the boundary included Peter Jefferson
Peter Jefferson
, father of Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
.

* Mile 217.5 Cumberland Knob, at 2,885 feet (879 m), is the center piece of a small parkway recreation area. * 218.6 Fox Hunters Paradise, down a short walking path, is where hunters could listen to their hounds baying in the valley below. * 238.5 Brinegar Cabin was built by Martin Brinegar about 1880 and lived in until the 1930s when the homestead was purchased from his widow for the parkway. The original cabin stands there today. * 238.5 to 244.7 Doughton Park was named for Congressman Robert L. Doughton , a staunch supporter and neighbor of the parkway. The park has many miles of hiking trails, a lodge, dinner, picnic area and a campground . * 258.6 Northwest Trading Post offers crafts from North Carolina's northwestern counties. * 260.6 Jumpinoff Rock is at the end of a short woodland trail. * 264.4 The Lump is a grassy knob that provides views of the forested foothills . * 272 E. B. Jeffress Park has a self-guided trail to a waterfall known as the Cascades. Another trail goes to an old cabin and church . * 285.1 Daniel Boone
Daniel Boone
's Trace, which Boone blazed to the West, crosses near here. * 292 to 295 Moses H. Cone Memorial Park
Moses H. Cone Memorial Park
has hiking , fishing and horse trails . Flat Top Manor , the former house of Moses H. Cone , is now used as the Parkway Craft Center. * 295.1 to 298 Julian Price Memorial Park
Julian Price Memorial Park
, the former retreat of the insurance executive Julian Price , offers a variety of hiking trails, campground, and a 47-acre (190,000 m2) Price Lake. This is the only lake on the parkway on which paddling is allowed. * 304.4 Linn Cove Viaduct , the last segment of the parkway built, skirts the side of Grandfather Mountain
Grandfather Mountain
. A visitor center is located nearby and provides access to a trail under the viaduct. * 308.3 Flat Rock provides views of Grandfather Mountain
Grandfather Mountain
and Linville Valley
Valley
. * 316.3 Linville Falls Recreation Area provides trails with overlooks of Linville Falls and the Linville Gorge . A campground and picnic area are also provided. * 331 Museum
Museum
of North Carolina
North Carolina
Minerals interprets the state's mineral wealth. * 339.5 Crabtree Meadows road to picnic area and trails (367.6). * 382 The Folk Art Center is the flagship facility of the Southern Highland Craft Guild . It offers sales and exhibits of traditional and contemporary crafts of the Appalachian region. There are interpretive programs, three galleries, a library and a book store. * 384 The Blue Ridge
Ridge
Parkway Visitor Center is the newest attraction along the Parkway. The building itself is LEED- certified . The Center houses a 70-seat theater showing an award-winning 24 minute film about the region. Information and orientation services are provided by the National Park Service
National Park Service
and the Blue Ridge
Ridge
National Heritage Area. Eastern National has a retail shop offering books, apparel and more. There are several exhibits, including a 22-foot interactive map of the entire Blue Ridge
Ridge
Parkway known as the "I-Wall" which provides multi-media information on places to visit on and around the Parkway. Other exhibits focus on the history and heritage of the Parkway and Western North Carolina. * 408.6 Mount Pisgah was part of the Biltmore Estate
Biltmore Estate
. The estate became home of the first forestry school in America and the nucleus of the Pisgah National Forest
Pisgah National Forest
. Also located here is the Pisgah Inn resort, a park service concession. * 417 Looking Glass Rock is visible from many spots on the Parkway starting at Mount Pisgah. * 418 East Fork Overlook. Located here are the headwaters of the Pigeon River. Yellowstone Falls is a short distance away and gets its name from the yellowish moss covering the rocks. * 420.2 Shining Rock Wilderness is the largest Wilderness
Wilderness
in North Carolina with 18,483 acres (74.80 km2), 25 miles (40 km) of trails and peaks over 6,000 ft (1,800 m). The Wilderness
Wilderness
is named for Shining Rock . * 420.2 Black Balsam Knob is a grassy bald with panoramic views just outside the Shining Rock Wilderness in Pisgah National Forest
Pisgah National Forest
. The Wilderness
Wilderness
also includes Cold Mountain
Mountain
. * 422.4 Devil\'s Courthouse is a rugged exposed mountaintop rich in Cherokee
Cherokee
traditions. * 423.5 Herrin Knob Overlook. A hiking trail goes around Tanasee Bald and Herrin Knob. Tanasee Bald (423.7) is said to be the home of the mythical Cherokee
Cherokee
giant Tsul \'Kalu . * 431 Richland Balsam is the highest point on the parkway at 6,053 feet (1,845 m). There is a self-guiding trail that passes through a remnant spruce -fir forest. * 435.7 Licklog Ridge
Ridge
once hosted cattlemen and their herds of cattle before it became part of the national forest. The area earns its name from the cattlemen who would place rocks of salt into logs and holes in the earth. * 451.2 Waterrock Knob provides a panorama of the Great Smokies , visitor center, trail, comfort station, exhibits. * 458.2 Heintooga Overlook spur road goes to a mile-high overlook 1.3 miles (2.1 km) from the parkway. * Mile 469 Southern End of the Blue Ridge
Ridge
Parkway intersects with U.S. 441 in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
and the Cherokee Reservation near Cherokee, North Carolina
North Carolina
.

CLOSURES

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, though maintenance such as repaving only warrants a stop/slow switch with a one-lane only restriction.

Due to serious damage in 2004 from Hurricane Frances , then again by Hurricane Ivan
Hurricane Ivan
, many areas along the parkway were closed until the spring of 2005, with two areas that were not fully repaired until the spring of 2006.

MAJOR INTERSECTIONS

COMMONWEALTH/STATE COUNTY LOCATION MI KM DESTINATIONS NOTES

Virginia
Virginia
Augusta Rockfish Gap 0.00 0.00 US 250 to I‑64 / Skyline Drive north – Charlottesville , Waynesboro , Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park
Interchange; northern terminus

Reids Gap 13.7 22.0 SR 664 (Beech Grove Road
Road
/ Reeds Gap Road) – Waynesboro

Nelson ​ 16.0 25.7 SR 814 (Campbells Mountain
Mountain
Road) to SR 56 Unpaved road

​ 16.1 25.9 SR 814 (Love Road) – Sherando Lake

Tye River Gap 27.1 43.6 SR 56 – Montebello , Steele\'s Tavern Interchange

Rockbridge Humphreys Gap 45.5 73.2 US 60 – Buena Vista , Amherst Interchange

Amherst Otter Creek 61.3 98.7 SR 130 – Natural Bridge , Lynchburg Interchange

Bedford ​ 63.9 102.8 US 501 – Big Island , Glasgow Interchange

Peaks of Otter 85.9 138.2 SR 43 south – Bedford North end of SR 43 overlap; north end of VDOT maintenance of SR 43 (southern segment)

Botetourt Powell Gap 89.0 143.2 SR 618 north

Bearwallow Gap 90.9 146.3 SR 43 north – Buchanan Interchange; south end of SR 43 overlap; south end of VDOT maintenance of SR 43 (northern segment)

​ 105.9 170.4 US 460 (US 221 ) – Bedford , Roanoke Interchange

Roanoke ​ 112.3 180.7 SR 24 – Stewartsville , Vinton , Roanoke , Booker T. Washington National Monument Interchange

​ 115.2 185.4 Blue Ridge
Ridge
Parkway Visitor Center , Virginia\'s Explore Park ( Roanoke River
Roanoke River
Parkway )

​ 120.5 193.9 Mill Mountain
Mountain
Park background-color:#eaecf0">1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

* Concurrency terminus

SEE ALSO

* U.S. Roads portal * North Carolina
North Carolina
portal * Virginia
Virginia
portal

* Skyline Drive * Natchez Trace Parkway
Natchez Trace Parkway
* Cherohala Skyway * Foothills
Foothills
Parkway

REFERENCES

* ^ "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved March 15, 2014. * ^ "Blue Ridge
Ridge
Parkway". National Park Service. Retrieved July 18, 2014. * ^ "Blue Ridge
Ridge
Parkway". The Cultural Landscape Foundation. * ^ " National Park Service
National Park Service
Visitor Use Statistics". Retrieved April 19, 2013. * ^ "America the Beautiful Quarters". U.S. Mint
U.S. Mint
. Retrieved September 6, 2010. * ^ A B C Chesto, Shawna (Summer 2007). "The Effect of the Blue Ridge
Ridge
Parkway on Appalachian Farmers". Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University
. Retrieved April 19, 2015. * ^ A B C Mitchell, Anne V. (Winter 1997). "Culture, History, and Development on the Qualla Boundary". Appalachian Journal. 24 (2): 144–191. JSTOR
JSTOR
40933835 . * ^ Brown, Jeff (January 2015). " Road
Road
with a View:Blue Ridge Parkway". Civil Engineering Magazine. American Society of Civil Engineers : 42–45. Retrieved 4 January 2016. * ^ Mitchell, Monte (September 11, 2012). "25-Year-Old Linn Cove Viaduct Floats Around Grandfather Mountain". Winston-Salem Journal
Winston-Salem Journal
. Retrieved October 9, 2012. * ^ Whisnant, Anne M. (2006). Super-Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Parkway History. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina
North Carolina
Press . pp. 45–46 – via Google Books
Google Books
. * ^ "§5.6 Commercial vehicles". Code of Federal Regulations
Code of Federal Regulations
. * ^ Much of the following information comes from National Park Service (2004). Blue Ridge
Ridge
Parkway: North Carolina, Virginia
Virginia
(Map). . Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. OCLC
OCLC
86108275 . GPO:2003-496-196/40572 Reprint 2004. * ^ USGS topos * ^ Digital Confections LLC (February 2016). Blue Ridge
Ridge
Companion. IOS.

FURTHER READING

* Hall, Karen J.; Friends of the Blue