Cold but dreamy snowfalls punctuated by balmy, hurry-up-and-hike days made for an unpredictable winter on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but according to the calendar (we had to check twice), it’s officially spring. Soon campgrounds, visitor centers, picnic areas, and historical sites will be ready for the influx of travelers. In 2017, more than 16 million came to experience the mountains and the communities along the way.
You can lay out the welcome mat for those travelers during the Project Parkway Campground Cleanup event from 9 a.m. to noon, Saturday, April 21. The National Park Service is inviting Parkway fans to help with a variety of preparations, from leaf blowing and tree limb clearing to painting and trail work at all eight campgrounds. Learn more
Here’s the 2018 Blue Ridge Parkway season at a glance:
Detour Ahead!: The Linn Cove Viaduct at Grandfather Mountain is closed until May 24 for repaving and repairs. A traffic detour will be put in place from milepost 298.6 (Holloway Mountain Road) to Milepost 305.1 (U.S. 221). Gates will be located at milepost 303.6, Wilson Creek Overlook on the north and milepost 305.1, U.S. 221 on the south end of the work zone. Within the closed area, including the trail areas beneath the viaduct, the Parkway will be closed to motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.
The Early Birds: Peaks of Otter Restaurant and Lodge is open weekends during the winter, and offers your initial opportunity to dine and rest your head with weekday hours starting March 16. The Lodge is encouraging folks to come enjoy a stroll around Abbott Lake for National Take a Walk in the Park Day on March 30.
If you don’t mind a chilly night, you can set up your tent at Linville Falls and Price Park (Loop A only) campgrounds beginning April 1.
Each spring, Flat Top Manor is one of the first visitor stops to open along the Blue Ridge Parkway thanks to the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Starting March 30, be sure to visit the group’s Parkway Craft Center at the manor, which features handmade crafts from hundreds of regional artists as well as live demonstrations of quilting, pottery, wood carving, glass blowing, and more on the front porch. You’ll see a new layout inside Flat Top Manor this year with the main foyer cleared for an experience that more closely resembles the days the Cones were in residence.
The Visitor Center and Roots of American Music Museum at the Blue Ridge Music Center kick off the season from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday-Monday, May 4-21, and daily beginning May 24. Come between noon and 4 p.m. to enjoy free live music on the breezeway with local musicians.
Under the Stars: If you’re itching to mark a camping trip on your calendar, you can book your stay at Otter Creek, Peaks of Otter, Rocky Knob, Doughton Park, Crabtree Falls, and Mount Pisgah campgrounds for any date between May 20 and October 28 at www.recreation.gov. Because Linville Falls and Price Park campgrounds open earlier, all sites are first-come, first-serve until May 20.
Snow or Shine?: With weather shifts so frequent these days, especially in the higher elevations, it’s a wise idea to check the Real Time Road Closures Map for events that might shut down the roadway. You can also see weather conditions and view webcam images of key sites at the Blue Ridge Parkway Weather site.
Additional opening dates:
Pisgah Inn: April 1
Northwest Trading Post: April 14
Mabry Mill Restaurant: April 27