1 Blue Ridge Parkway
Nicknamed "America's favorite drive," the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway was designed by landscape architect Stanley Abbott whose vision was to create a road that was far more than just a way to get from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, with its scenic hiking trails. The drive itself has incredible views of the Blue Ridge mountains and the surrounding landscape, and the road is popular with motorcyclists and bicyclists for its endless scenery. There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails that branch off from the numerous pull-offs, picnic areas, and campgrounds that line the road. Tourists will find the parkway most crowded in October during foliage season, while summer visitors can enjoy the colors of flaming azaleas and rhododendrons.
In addition to the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is home to several visitor centers and museums, some of which are open seasonally. In the summer and autumn, Mabry Mill (Milepost 176) has demonstrations that include grinding corn in the original mill, cutting boards in the sawmill, and the art of blacksmithing. The Folk Art Center (Milepost 382) is open year-round and includes a gallery of folk art as well as demonstrations by local craftspeople, and the Museum of North Carolina Minerals (Milepost 331) has detailed exhibits that look at the region's mineral resources and mining industry. Between the months of November and March, tourists should be sure to check for weather-related road closures prior to setting out.
Location: Western North Carolina from Low Gap to Cherokee, North Carolina