10 Fun Facts About the Blue Ridge Parkway

10 Fun Facts About the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is truly an iconic feature of the North Carolina mountains. For decades, visitors, cyclists, photographers and motorcyclists (just to name a few) have made the pilgrimage to this beautiful road. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a piece of our American heritage. But, what do you really know about the parkway? If you are like many of us, we know just how beautiful it is, but that's about it. This week we pull back the curtain and share some fascinating facts and history about the Blue Ridge Parkway – and why it should be on your bucket list of things to see in North Carolina. 

The park's tunnels are stunning

There are 26 tunnels on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Lucky for those who are from North Carolina because 25 of those tunnels are in the Tarheel state. The Tunnels offer some of the most scenic views on the parkway. 

Linn Cove Viaduct

While the Blue Ridge Parkway is home to abundant views, Linn Cove Viaduct is the ultimate Blue Ridge Parkway experience. The Viaduct is 1,243 feet long and snakes around Grandfather Mountain. It took over seven year to build.

Climb to new heights

The Blue Ridge Parkway is home to the highest mountain east of the Mississippi River. Mt. Mitchell reaches a height of 6,684' and is a very popular destination. Check out our previous post: Everything You Need to Know About Mt. Mitchell for loads of great information about visiting this magical mountain. 

A very popular place

Did you know the Blue Ridge Parkway is the longest linear park in the country and it was the number one spot for most-visited National Park Sites of 2020? Passing through 29 counties in Virginia and North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway saw more than 14 million visitors in 2020. 

Discover the waterfalls of the parkway

There are over 50 Blue Ridge Parkway waterfalls, plus another 9 in Shenandoah National Park. Not to mention numerous others in and around The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

What's in a name?

The Blue Ridge Mountains actually look blue! The distinctive blue that gives this range its name emanates from its mountain forests which release hydrocarbons into the atmosphere. Sunrises and Sunsets are the best time to see this incredible display of nature. 

The fall foliage is incredible 

Any time of the year is a good time to visit the parkway, although we will admit that the winter can present some challenges. However, any local can tell you that the Blue Ridge Parkway (and the North Carolina Mountains in general) show their true beauty when the fall colors emerge. 

The beginning

Construction on the Blue Ridge Parkway began in 1935, with much of the work being done by the Depression era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Works Progress Administration (WPA), and the Emergency Relief Administration (ERA), When World War II began, approximately 170 miles were open to travel and another 160 miles were under construction. By the early 1950s, only half of the Blue Ridge Parkway was completed.

We have some special residents

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!

You'll love the rural nature of the parkway

There are no billboards or neon signs, no restaurants or shopping centers, and only one hotel on the road’s entire length. Only nature, and convenient overlooks from which to view and explore it, are to be found along this beautiful stretch of road. 

10 Fun Facts About the Blue Ridge Parkway

Plan your Blue Ridge Parkway adventure

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