June 2016 Trip: Blue Ridge Parkway

Now we’re onto the next part of my June 2016 trip adventure – the Blue Ridge Parkway. The BRP, as I like to call it, runs through Virginia and North Carolina, connecting Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountain National Park. On the National Park Service website, it describes the BRP as this: “A Blue Ridge Parkway experience is unlike any other: a slow-paced and relaxing drive revealing stunning long-range vistas and close-up views of the rugged mountains and pastoral landscapes of the Appalachian Highlands. The Parkway meanders for 469 miles, protecting a diversity of plants and animals, and providing opportunities for enjoying all that makes this region of the country so special.” The BRP is gorgeous! I drove miles 1 to 200 in Virginia, over two days.

Blue Ridge Parkway, VA

I used a combination of web research (mainly NPS website and looking for posts on Pinterest) and print research. I happened to find a travel book by Moon Travel Guides specifically about the Blue Ridge Parkway at my local Barnes & Noble. The book also had a good amount of information on Shenandoah National Park.

Blue Ridge Parkway, VA - mile 19

The view up above is a favorite. I will say it wasn’t an instant, in-the-moment favorite (even though I did really like it), but one I’ve grown to absolutely love since I’ve been home. If I remember correctly, it was around mile 19.

There are official Visitor Centers all along the BRP. I stopped at 5 of them – Humpback Rocks, James River, Peaks of Otter, Rocky Knob, and Mabry Mill.

brp-road

This photo…I love it. I wanted to capture what it looked like to actually be driving on the road. It was such a great experience and I wanted to hold onto that memory. The traffic was surprisingly light (even though it was the weekend), so it was no problem to just stop in the middle of the road, grab the photo, and keep on with the journey.

Blue Ridge Parkway, VA - Chimney Rock Mtn Overlook

My instant favorite view is this one. It was taken at the Chimney Rock Mountain Overlook at mile 45. So many layers of blue! The photo doesn’t do it justice.

Blue Ridge Parkway, VA - Otter Creek Dam area

Blue Ridge Parkway, VA - The Saddle

Blue Ridge Parkway, VA - official signage at Rocky Knob Visitor Center

Here’s the road signage for the parkway. Fun fact, the sign would show what side the upcoming overlook was, by the orientation of the image. If the mountains were on the left (as above) your overlook was on the left. It did take me awhile to figure it out. Once I did, it was helpful.

Blue Ridge Parkway, VA - Mabry mill

The Mabry Mill (pictured above) was my final major stop on the Parkway. I stayed overnight Saturday in Roanoke, VA (great spot with a lot of options!) and drove my final 80 miles of the Parkway on Sunday morning. My goal was to make it to Winston-Salem, NC by early afternoon. My BRP book said this about Mabry Mill, “Called by many ‘the most picturesque spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway,’ Mabry Mill is among the top five places to photograph in any season. Making it a sure stop on your journey.” It is also a interpretive center to give visitors an idea of the agricultural/pastoral life in this section of the Appalachian Mountains.

I hopped off the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile 200 in Fancy Gap, VA to make my way to Winston-Salem, NC to see my friend Cassie. I’ll be back again soon to share the final portion of my trip.

You can read part 1 about Shenandoah National Park.

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