The Blue Ridge Parkway was conceived and created for several excellent reasons and it ended up doing most of them plus bringing complete joy to the driving experience. What a dandy idea that was!
It may have taken 52 years to complete, but it was well worth the effort. As a public works project it provided work for the Appalachian region and helped with tourism to help the area get through the Great Depression. Although work began in 1935 at Cumberland Knob, North Carolina and most of the road was done by 1966, the Viaduct at Grandfather Mountain proved to be a challenge and was not opened until 1987. The construction crews overcame many nature and elevation challenges. There are more than 168 bridges and 26 tunnels that required moving a lot of solid rock. The stone that was obtained from the construction was often reused in the stone facing and rustic style of the bridges and tunnels. The Parkway is truly unmatched in its integrity of allowing the road to blend into its surrounding landscape.
It is Americas longest linear park at 469 miles and it climbs from a mere 649 feet at James River, Virginia to 6053 feet at mile marker 431 near Richland Balsam in North Carolina. Mile markers start in Waynesboro, Virginia and run south to Cherokee, North Carolina and it is a free ride the entire distance. There is no fee to drive the parkway plus commercial vehicles are not allowed. So, you can really get immersed into the nature, wildlife and scenery. The wildflowers are spectacular with rhododendrons, dogwoods, asters, daisies and the most abundant display of mountain laurel that you will ever see. Fall foliage shows a great display of color because the varied elevations include everything; oak, hickory, tulip poplar, buckeye, ash, fir and spruce.
Start wherever you wish and drive as far as your heart desires, you will relish every minute of the drive.
Come visit and explore the beauty and lifestyle of East Tennessee.
Excited about the area and want more information, visit knoxville-tn.com or call 800-747-0713.