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Trip List by Textilesqueen

20 Things You Must See When Driving The Blue Ridge Parkway

30 May 2006  The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the best places in the US to visit. My husband and I venture on it every chance we get. Our favorite portion is the southern end, south of Asheville, but we love the entire Parkway.
4.5 of 5 bubbles based on 16 votes

When driving the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway, you might be overwhelmed by all the things to see and do. Here is a list of the 20 places my husband and I have enjoyed on our many excursions on the Parkway.

  • Category: Best of
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Repeat visitors
  • Appeals to: Couples/romantics, Singles, Families with small children, Families with teenagers, Large groups, Seniors, Students, Budget travellers , Active/adventure, Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Yankee Horse Ridge, Milepost 34.4

    Take the .2 mile Yankee Horse Trail to 30-foot Wigwam Falls. Beautiful falls in a quiet setting. Also, great photo opportunities with a 200 foot section of the old Irish Creek Railway still in place as an exhibit.

  • 2. Otter Lake Dam, Milepost 63.1

    There are two parking areas here alongside the lake. Use the smaller lot to see the dam. Great photo opportunities here any time of the year. We especially like the stepping stone path across the creek.

  • 3. James River Visitor Center, Milepost 63.6

    Great little visitor center with several trails. The highlight here is the footbridge under the Parkway bridge over the James River. Unique experience walking across the river.

  • 4. Mabry Mill, Milepost 176.2

    One of the most photographed spots on the parkway. Great place to visit any time of the year. On Sundays there are often informal music gatherings. Weekend exhibits are not uncommon. If you get a chance, go visit the Meadows of Dan, at milepost 177.7. Very sweet little town.

  • 5. Groundhog Mountain, Milepost 188.8

    Great place for a picnic. There is an exhibit of rail fences and a tower. Also, there is a small cemetary in the island of the parking area.

  • 6. Puckett Cabin, Milepost 189.9

    Nice photo opportunities here but the history of Orlena Puckett really makes the place special. She delivered over 1000 babies during her lifetime, the last one at the age of 102. Sadly, she bore 24 children herself, but none survived beyond 2 years old.

  • 7. Fox Hunters Paradise Parking Overlook, Milepost 218.6

    The short trail, .2 miles, leads to an awesome view of North Carolina. You won't want to leave this spot.

  • 8. Brinegar Cabin, Milepost 238.5

    One of the most, if not the most, photographed cabins on the Parkway. There is a loom exhibit inside the cabin.

  • 9. Cone Manor House, Milepost 294.0

    Cone Manor House, also known as Flat Top Manor, was originally the summer home of Moses H. Cone. It is now a visitor's center for the Parkway, as well as a store for local artisans. Views from the area are great and there are a lot of photo opportunities here (especially in the early morning).

  • 10. Rough Ridge Parking Area, Milepost 302.8

    Access an awesome section of the Tanawha Trail. Hit the trail and turn left. You will hike about .7 miles to outcropping of rock that opens up to a 360 degree view. It's not a hard hike, but it's not real easy either.

  • 11. Grandfather Mountain, Milepost 305.1

    Take this exit to US 221 that will take you to Grandfather Mountain. There is an admission to the mountain but it is well worth it. You will be able to see black bears, bald eagles, otters, deer, and cougars. Also, there is drive to the top of the mountain. Great views.

  • 12. Linville Falls, Milepost 316.4

    Take the short drive (1.4 miles) to the Linville Falls Visitor Center. From there you can choose your route to see Linville Falls. I would also suggest visiting Duggers Creek Falls. It is an easy .3-mile loop to a small but impressive waterfall.

  • 13. Mount Mitchell State Park, Milepost 355.3

    Mount Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi. There is a museum and picnic area at the top as well as a concession stand and rest area. On the drive to the top is a restaurant. Drive to the parking area and hike up to the top. Great spot no matter what the weather is like or the season.

  • 14. NC Arboretum, Milepost 393.6

    The Arboretum contains wonderful gardens, great indoor and outdoor exhibits, and hiking trails for a very nominal fee per car ($6.00 the last time we visited). It is a very peaceful and beautiful place to visit.

  • 15. Mt. Pisgah Inn, Milepost 408.6

    Not only do you get to see views of Mt. Pisgah and hike the area trails, but you could also stay here at the inn for a bargain price. The inn also has a fantastic restaurant.

  • 16. Looking Glass Falls, Milepost 411.8

    Get off the Parkway here onto US 276 and head towards Brevard. You will not only pass the Cradle of Forestry (about 4 miles down the road) but you will also have the opportunity to visit several great waterfalls, including Sliding Rock and Looking Glass Falls. Looking Glass Falls is about 13 miles from the Parkway and it is well worth the drive (the drive is beautiful too). The falls are right beside of the road - no hiking required. There are several other waterfalls in the area that do require some hiking to get to.

  • 17. Graveyard Fields Overlook, Milepost 418.8

    The area doesn't really look like a graveyard anymore but it is the home to three waterfalls - Upper Falls, Second Falls, and Yellowstone Falls. Yellowstone Falls is the biggest and can be seen from the road when nearing the overlook (heading south on the Parkway). It is nice but it is also a little overrated in our book. Still, walking through the tunnels of laurel and rhododendron to reach the trail is pretty cool. The hikes here are moderate.

  • 18. Devils Courthouse, Milepost 422.4

    This area is the most underrated on the Parkway. The trail to the top is strenuous (.4 mile) but the 360-degree view is unbeatable. This is our absolute favorite place on the Parkway.

  • 19. Cowee Mountain Overlook, Milepost 430.7

    This is the overlook that you will find the classic ridge after ridge landscape. There are spectacular photo opportunities here at sunset.

  • 20. Waterrock Knob, Milepost 451.2

    This is the second highest point on the Parkway. The parking area provides great views and there are a lot of signs describing what mountains you are looking at. There is a hike to the top (.6 miles) but it is strenuous! Great place to end (or start) your trip on the Parkway