A Brief History Of The Blue Ridge Parkway

A Brief History of the Blue Ridge Parkway

There is a hidden treasure that winds and snakes its way through the beautiful North Carolina mountains. For North Carolinians the mountains in and around Asheville are universally regarded as a state treasure. The area is famous for its spectacular fall colors, vibrant mountain culture and of course, Asheville. However, one of the most unique features of the area is the famous Blue Ridge Parkway. Whether you are looking for a weekend getaway, a motorcycle adventure or just enjoying the scenic route to your Asheville mountain vacation, this week we have everything you need to know about the history and impact of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Grab your map, take some notes and get ready to discover the magic of the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Where is the Blue Ridge Parkway?

You may have heard of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but wonder where exactly is this parkway located?

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469 mile route between Afton, VA and Cherokee, NC. The parkway is divided into six regions; Ridge, Shenandoah, Plateau, Highlands, Pisgah, and the Great Smoky Mountains region. Each region has its own unique characteristics, but all of them are breathtaking in their own way. 

Brief timeline of the Blue Ridge Parkway 

A project like the Blue Ridge Parkway was obviously a huge undertaking, one that took a massive amount of resources, time and energy. But how did it all start, and exactly how long did it take to create? Here is a brief timeline of the parkway's creation:

1933- President Rosevelt has the original idea for the Blue Ridge Parkway. The idea is to connect the Skyline Drive in Virginia to the newly created Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

1936- Congress authorizes funding of the Blue Ridge Parkway and placed in under the authority of the National Park Service. 

1940-1945- The parkway construction continues even during World War II. The government used conscientious objectors to continue progress. 

1950's- The Parkway was almost halfway complete. 

1966-  This was the year the parkway was supposed to be completed and it almost was. However, the owners of Grandfather Mountain objected to the route of the parkway. In 1966, all but 7.7 miles of the road was complete.

1987- With the successful completion of the Linn Cove Viaduct (around Grandfather Mountain) the Parkway as we know it today was completed.

Five fun facts about the parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is home to 9 federally threatened or endangered species. One of those is the Southern Flying Squirrel...yes, they do exist!

On the Parkway, it is illegal to gather the leaves of the Galax Plant. These leaves have been used for medicinal purposes in the Southern Appalachia region for years and years.

You can stop over 250 times on the Blue Ridge Parkway - perfect for pictures, picnics, or just soaking in some incredible scenery.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is home to the highest peak east of the Mississippi, Mt. Mitchell.

There are 26 total tunnels on the Blue Ridge Parkway, with 25 of them in North Carolina.

What to expect

If you've never been to the North Carolina mountains you are in for a treat. The Blue Ridge Parkway offers a cornucopia of ways to enjoy the 469 miles of scenic highways. Some of the things you can expect are beautiful vistas and quaint towns along the route. If you love nature you are going to love the parkway. One thing is for sure – the parkway is something that stays with you. Anyone who has taken even a short drive on this famous road is forever changed by its beauty. There are a few things to consider when driving on the parkway:

The speed limit on the parkway is 45 m.p.h (and often lower). 

Motorcyclists flock to the parkway in the warmer months. You want to pay special attention during this time of year. 

At some points on the parkway you are in a very secluded area. Make sure to plan accordingly with gas, bathroom stops and for food. 

The parkway features regional culture and heritage. Several festivals, heritage sites and historical stops are found along the route. 

At times the parkway is very steep and winding which can be a new experience for many drivers. 

There is still plenty of time to take in all the glorious colors of the fall foliage in Asheville – all you need is to book your Asheville mountain vacation. We have a great selection of cabins to choose from, all loaded with the best amenities. Give us a call today at 828-274-6978 or click the button below to see all of our vacation rentals. 

A Brief History of the Blue Ridge Parkway

This fall, Set your GPS to Asheville, NC!

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