The Blue Ridge Parkway commands the top spot for most visited National Park and for good reason. The winding pathway through the Appalachian mountains can draw even the most distracted mind from it’s worldly concerns. This narrow two lane road sans billboards, stop lights or commercial advertisements is nothing short of a step back in time.
The grueling process required to blast twenty-six tunnels, dozens of bridges and the Linn Cove Viaduct remain worth the effort as some 600 million people have passed through the Blue Ridge Parkway since its construction.
The timeless surroundings paired with minimal signage in original national park lettering from the time of FDR and his Civilian Conservation Corps that changed the shape of the country. Started in 1935 after some delay and deliberation, this tranquil cruise nearing 500 miles hasn’t waned in the decades since its inception, either in popularity or beauty.
Lazily winding its way through 29 counties of Virginia and North Carolina’s southern Appalachian mountains, the parkway connected the new Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks following The Great Depression as part of FDR’s New Deal to bring the country back on track.
Not finished in its entirety until the Linn Cove Viaduct’s 1,200 ft suspension section was completed in 1987, Blue Ridge Parkway was a long road with complex dealings along the way. No existing maps, extreme weather conditions, rocky mountainous terrain, and wildlife were only a few of the obstacles encountered.
Many mountain roads were little more than ruts and could not even accommodate the equipment needed for construction. This narrow corridor of protected land (sometimes only 200 feet wide), 88,000 acres in all, put up a fight along the way. Halted by competing routes, war time efforts, the mountain environment, and upset land holders.
The 469 mile Blue Ridge Parkway was officially dedicated on September 11, 1987, 52 years after the groundbreaking. Since 1946, this treasure has hosted more visitors than any other site in the national park system, that’s more than 18 million visitors annually!
Have you driven down the Blue Ridge? Do you have a favorite outlook or hiking spot to share? And if the drive along isn’t enough to draw you there, look no further than Asheville.
Slow your roll and get serene in Asheville. Brought back from near economic death by their tourism and the Blue Ridge Parkway itself, Asheville is filled with lovely people and even more lovely surroundings.