The Blue Ridge Parkway is celebrating 87 years this Sunday, Sept. 11. We could list hundreds of reasons to celebrate this amazing national park, but here are just a few adventurous ways to mark the occasion. Enjoy!
1. Start at the beginning
Construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway got underway on Sept. 11. 1935, at Cumberland Knob, milepost 217.5. As the first recreation area to open, it even featured a sandwich shop. Pack a picnic (including a birthday cake), plan a hike on the Cumberland Knob Trail or Gulley Creek Trail, and enjoy an afternoon at this spot near the North Carolina-Virginia state line. Read about construction of the Parkway
2. Explore from top to bottom
In North Carolina, visit the Parkway’s highest point, Richland Balsam, where you can get a photo with the sign proclaiming the 6,053-foot elevation at milepost 431. You can get even higher by hiking the nearby 1.5-mile Richland Balsam Trail through a lush forest.
The Parkway drops to its lowest elevation, 650 feet above sea level, at the James River in Virginia at milepost 63.7. Here you can learn about the history of the former canal at this site. There are several hikes to explore, including a Kids in Parks TRACK Trail.
3. Savor a sunrise or sunset
The views are even more spectacular when the sun paints the sky gorgeous colors over the rolling mountains. Favorite locations where you can catch the beauty include Ravens Roost Overlook (milepost 10.7), Sharp Top Mountain at Peaks of Otter (milepost 86), and Cowee Mountain Overlook (milepost 430.7). Viewers are even known to cheer and clap at Waterrock Knob (milepost 451) when Mother Nature puts on the show.
4. Glide across Price Lake
Rent a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard and explore the signature natural feature at Julian Price Memorial Park, near Blowing Rock, N.C. Catching the reflection of the mountains on the still water is just one of the beautiful sights. Learn more
5. Dance a jig
Head to the Blue Ridge Music Center to move your feet to during Midday Mountain Music sessions offered from noon to 4 p.m. daily. After catching tunes and tales from the regional musicians, visit the Roots of American Music Museum and the Wish You Were Here: Postcards from the Blue Ridge exhibit on loan from the Blue Ridge Institute at Ferrum College.
6. Become and End-to-Ender
Plan a trip to travel the entire length of the Parkway, whether all at once or in stretches, and then join our special club to mark your journey. You’ll receive a certificate and sticker to commemorate your accomplishment. Learn more
7. Give the Parkway a birthday present
To show your appreciation for the wonderful experiences the Parkway has given you, make a donation to ensure its future. Here are a few gift ideas:
- $87 in honor of the Parkway’s 87th year
- $25 monthly in honor of the Foundation’s 25th anniversary
- $469 in honor of the 469 miles that make up the scenic route
Every gift, no matter the amount, makes a difference for the Parkway!