Update (January 28, 2019): With the enactment of the continuing resolution, staff along the Blue Ridge Parkway resumed regular winter operations beginning Monday, January 28, 2019. The National Park Service reminds visitors to remain patient as Parkway staff begin to assess road conditions on the sections of Parkway that remain closed due to debris and winter weather conditions.
“Employees along the entire Blue Ridge Parkway are glad to be back at work,” said Superintendent J.D. Lee. “We are so grateful to the committed Parkway staff, partners and neighbors that supported the Parkway during the lapse in appropriations. We had several weather events before and during the lapse that will continue to impact Parkway travel in the coming days and weeks. We appreciate the public’s patience and cooperation as we prioritize work to provide access to this special resource.”
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is paying for National Park Service staff members to reopen the Visitor Center in Asheville at milepost 384 on the Parkway for three weekends. The center will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, January 26-27, and Friday through Sunday, February 1-3 and February 8-10. We are also requesting donations and recruiting volunteers to assist with the recovery work that will be required after the partial government shutdown ends.
The Visitor Center has been closed since Sunday, December 23, due to the lapse in federal funding. The facility is typically open year-round to provide information for travelers. Facilities that were already closed for the season, including visitor centers in Virginia, are not authorized to reopen. The Foundation will support the return of two rangers and a maintenance employee who will open the Asheville Visitor Center and provide additional assistance at the Folk Art Center, which remains open under the direction of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Should the government shutdown end before the scheduled dates, operations would resume with government funding.
"Enhancing visitor experiences on the Blue Ridge Parkway is a core component of our mission,” said Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. “We are proud to support our park in this way, and will continue to look for opportunities to assist the National Park Service during this challenging time.”
“We are very grateful to the Parkway Foundation for this contribution,” said J.D. Lee, Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent. “The Foundation’s leadership will allow the restoration of important visitor services by National Park Service staff and other on-site partners including Eastern National and the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area. Restoring services at this visitor contact point for the next few weekends also provides access to important resource protection and safety information that promotes the long-term protection of the Parkway.”
Before the shutdown was announced, several sections of the Parkway were closed due to hazardous road conditions caused by a storm. Work to reopen these areas, including the clearing of fallen trees, stopped when government employees were furloughed. More recently, additional severe weather has done extensive damage to many sections of the Parkway.
After the shutdown ends, National Park Service personnel will assess the entire Parkway for clean-up and maintenance needs. There are two key ways people can assist in restoring the park: donate or sign up to volunteer.