About the Blue Ridge Parkway

Whether you are setting out on a day trip or exploring all 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, we hope this information about the park, road closures, and history of the scenic route will help you enjoy the journey. 

Photo by David Hill, view from the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway inside and out

Blue Ridge Parkway photo by David HillThe Blue Ridge Parkway was the first national rural parkway to be conceived, designed, and constructed for a leisure-type driving experience. Its varied topography and numerous vista points offer easy public access to spectacular views of central and southern Appalachian rural landscapes and forested mountains. It connects Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.

As an example of pre- and post-World War II automotive rural parkway design, the Blue Ridge Parkway retains the greatest degree of integrity of any parkway in the United States. The Parkway is recognized around the world as an international example of landscape and engineering design achievements with a roadway that lies easily on the land and blends into the landscape.

The Parkway is the highest and longest continuous route in the Appalachian area. Along its 469-mile length, it provides scenic access to crests and ridges of five major ranges within the central and southern Appalachian Mountains, encompassing geographic and vegetative zones that range from 649 feet at James River in Virginia to 6,047 feet at Richland Balsam in North Carolina.

The Blue Ridge Parkway brings $980 million dollars to the adjacent communities annually. It is a primary catalyst for promoting regional travel and tourism, serving as a unifying element for 29 counties through which it passes, engendering a shared regional identity, providing a common link of interest, and being a major contributor to regional economic vitality.

 

Park Information & Maps

Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center AshevilleVisit the Park Website or View Operation Hours & Seasons
Reach the park information line at (828) 298-0398.

Be sure to stop in at a Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center along the way for camping, hiking, and more information about activities and sites along the route, or visit the National Park Service's plan your visit page.

 

Road Closures & Weather

Road conditions can change quickly. Before you set out for a drive, ride, or hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway, check the National Park Service’s real-time closures map. Check the Map.

Weather on the Blue Ridge Parkway can change quickly too, particularly in higher elevations. Find out temps and see views from webcams. Visit BRPWeather.com.

Helpful Planning Tools

Apps to Get You There

End-to-Ender Program

Have you traveled the entire 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway?
We want to hear all about it and acknowledge your accomplishment.

Get your certificate

Photo by J. Scott Graham

Giving back along the way - Parkway Plus

The Foundation is fortunate to have many great partners along the Blue Ridge Parkway, including lodging, dining, and retail establishments that give back to the scenic route. When you are traveling, we hope you’ll support these special places and in turn help the Parkway.

At the following lodgings, guests can show their appreciation for the Blue Ridge Parkway by donating $1 per night to the Foundation’s projects, which preserve, protect, and enhance the journey they love.

To become a partner or request more information, e-mail Willa Mays or call (866) 308-2773, ext. 305.

Blue Ridge Parkway by the Numbers

  • 6,047 Feet
    Highest Elevation
  • 469
    Miles Long
  • 15.1 Million
    Visitors in 2015
  • 369 Miles
    of Trails
  • 91
    Historical Buildings
  • 29
    Counties

Take a Drive Through Time

Driving through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway is an extensive digital history collection that features thousands of historic photographs, maps, postcards, government documents, oral history interviews, and newspaper clippings documenting the Parkway’s more than 75-year history. Explore the collection

Blue Ridge Parkway Timeline

Compiled by Anne Mitchell Whisnant, author of Super-Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Parkway History and When the Parkway Came. Contact the author.

August 1933

President Franklin D. Roosevelt visits CCC camps in the Shenandoah National Park with Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes and Virginia Senator Harry F. Byrd. Someone suggests extending the new Skyline Drive southward to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

September 28, 1933

“Byrd Outlines Park Road Plan” is the first article to mention of the future Blue Ridge Parkway project in the Asheville Citizen

October 17, 1933

Representatives from Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia meet in the office of Sen. Harry Byrd to discuss the proposed parkway to connect Shenandoah National Park with Great Smoky Mountains National Park

November 16, 1933

Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes approves the future Blue Ridge Parkway for federal funding under the Public Works Administration

February 5-7, 1934

First hearings held in Washington to consider Parkway route

June 13, 1934

“Radcliffe Committee” appointed by Secretary Ickes to decide Parkway route recommends selection of the Tennesse-favored route (the Virginia-North Carolina-Tennessee route) instead of the Virginia-North Carolina route favored by North Carolinians

July 19, 1934

Secretary Ickes approves portions of the Parkway route from Shenandoah National Park to the James River and from Adney Gap to Blowing Rock; announces he has postponed making a decision on the portion south of Blowing Rock

September 18, 1934

Secretary Ickes holds hearing in Washington to consider merits of the Tennessee- and North Carolina-favored routes for the Parkway from Blowing Rock to the Great Smoky Mountains

November 10, 1934

Secretary Ickes announces selection of the North Carolina-favored route for the Parkway

September 11, 1935

Construction begins on the Blue Ridge Parkway

September 16, 1935

100 men continue to move machinery and begin clearing the right-of-way at Low Gap, North Carolina

September 19, 1935

According to a letter two days later from J.P. Dodge, Senior Claim Adjuster for the North Carolina Highway Commission to the Chair of the Highway Commission, the “first breaking of ground on the first project of the Shenandoah-Great Smoky Mountains National Parkway” took place this day at Low Gap, N.C.

June 30, 1936

Federal statute names parkway the “Blue Ridge Parkway” and places it under control of the National Park Service

1939

The first completed section of the Parkway, between N.C. 18 and U.S. 21 opens to traffic

1942

150 miles of Parkway are open. First concessions opens at Cumberland Knob.

1946

Parkway visitation tops 1 million

1949

Parkway opens concessions at Bluffs, area renamed later that year for Representative Robert L. Doughton, an advocate and supporter of the Blue Ridge Parkway from Alleghany County, North Carolina

1952

Craggy transferred to National Park Service from the United States Forest Service. Linville Falls acquired

1956

Mission 66" launched to expand services for the growing number of visitors following World War II; Parkway gets major boost

1965

Final section of Parkway in Virginia dedicated

1966

All of Parkway in North Carolina complete except for Grandfather corridor

1967

Parkway near Asheville opened to public

1977

Ground broken for Folk Art Center

1978

Construction begins on Linn Cove Viaduct

1983

Linn Cove Viaduct complete

September 11, 1987

Final section of Parkway dedicated

1988

Parkway visitation tops 25 million

2000

Parkway dedicates new headquarters in Asheville, North Carolina

2001

Blue Ridge Music Center dedicated

2008

Parkway Visitor Center opens in Asheville

By the Numbers: Along the Way

  • 382
    Overlooks
  • 13
    Picnic Areas
  • 26
    Tunnels
  • 910
    Roadside Vistas
  • 14
    Visitor Centers
  • 176
    Bridges

The Greater Landscape

The Parkway is a neighbor to many amazing natural features and culturally significant places. It borders the ancestral home of the Cherokee Indian, shares a boundary with Mount Mitchell State Park, home to tallest mountain east of the Rockies. It also shares boundaries with Pisgah National Forest, which is home to Linville Gorge, the deepest gorge in the eastern Unites States, and the Cradle of Forestry, America’s first forestry school (Biltmore Forestry School, 1898-1913).

 

Flora & Fauna

The Parkway’s uninterrupted corridor helps protect a diverse range of flora and fauna, including rare and endangered plant and animal species and globally imperiled natural habitats. It is one of the most biodiverse parks in the entire National Park System.

Total vascular plants and vertebrates by park:

  • Blue Ridge Parkway = 2,074
  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park = 2,073
  • Big South Fork Recreation Area = 1,472
  • Olympic National Park = 1,531
  • Yellowstone National Park = 1,678

The Parkway supports nine federally listed threatened and endangered rare species and 74 critically imperiled, imperiled, and vulnerable species.

(2007 data source, National Park Service, Appalachian Highlands Inventory and Monitoring Network)

By the numbers: Wildlife

  • 43
    Amphibian Species
  • 225
    Bird Species
  • 99
    Fish Species
  • 600 Miles
    of Streams
  • 2,074
    Plant Species
  • 60
    Mammal Species