Here we are, at the end of 2021 — a year of unimaginable challenge and change, and also of hope.
Just like in 2020, people came to the Blue Ridge Parkway for many reasons. Some came to find solace amid the chaos, or to reconnect with loved ones outdoors. Others came for inspiration, recreation, or contemplation. Some came for their 100th visit, while others visited for the very first time. As I joined the Parkway this summer, I traveled the full 469 miles with new eyes. Around every turn is an example of greatness. Park staff, partners, and volunteers are getting creative, solving a wide range of challenges in navigating COVID protocols while providing amazing visitor experiences during a period of heavy visitation. We are also mobilizing for significant infrastructure investments along the motor road and digging into our strategic priorities. We are responding to storms and saving lives, protecting resources, and telling important stories. Quite simply, together we are ensuring that the visitor experience happens, and protecting the place that supports it. I remain deeply grateful to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation for its support. Through its hard work, and the generous spirit of our shared stewards, places that were once overgrown now provide vistas to protected lands, and restaurant windows that were once shuttered are again open to the smell of fresh coffee and excited conversations about the day’s planned adventures. Accomplishments this year include
serving the next generation of diverse park stewards with the Tanawha Trail Crew work, overhauling the sound system at the Music Center, and ensuring tribal engagement on the development of new exhibits at Waterrock Knob Visitor Center. These are the investments that will sustain the Parkway as a place of meaning for generations to come.
- Tracy Swartout, Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent