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Kristi Parsons | 04.09.2018

To introduce the Blue Ridge Parkway as the highway to adventure in the Southern Appalachians would still not do justice to the area's potential. Any adventure or outdoor activity that you can dream up can most likely be found along the 469 miles that stretch from Virginia to North Carolina. You'll find never-ending views, hiking and backpacking, rock climbing, mountain biking, photographic opportunities, waterfalls with tranquil pools for swimming and more around every curve. The Blue Ridge Parkway took a total of 52 years to complete, and you could spend just as long exploring every nook of the treasures tucked away along this stretch of the Appalachian Mountains. Take 52 hours, 52 days, 52 weeks, or even 52 years and seek out all of the beauty and adventure that awaits. Below, you'll find 15 spots to get you started on what could turn out to be the journey of a lifetime. 

  1. Mount Pisgah Campground: A perfect base camp for exploring the parkway.    
  2. Frying Pan Lookout Tower : Stretch your legs, get your heart pumping, and soak up the views. 
  3. Linn Cove Viaduct: The Linn Cove Viaduct is possibly the most infamous section of the parkway. Witness it firsthand and you'll quickly see why. 
  4. Art Loeb Trail : Thirty miles of trails that offer a perfect backpacking experience as well as day hike options.
  5. Craggy Gardens Pinnacle : From the gnarled, twisty and magical trees of Craggy to one of the top views of the Blue Ridge Parkway and the entire stretch of the southern Appalachians, the 20-minute climb to the summit of the pinnacle is a top spot on a parkway bucket list. Catch a sunset from the pinnacle for an epic end to your day on the parkway. 
  6. Graveyard Fields: Unlike other adventures on the parkway, at Graveyard Fields you won't be climbing to a summit; instead, you'll be wandering into a very unique mountain valley. 
  7. Black Balsam Knob: Hike to the grassy summit bald of the unforgettable Black Balsam Knob. From the top you'll be able to spot five peaks of surrounding mountains. For a full experience, sleep under the Milky Way and wake up to an Appalachian sunrise.
  8. Waterrock Knob: Sunrise, sunset or just a mid-day stop. You can't go wrong exploring this 16th highest mountain in the eastern United States. 
  9. Skinny Dip Falls: You can probably figure out how this Blue Ridge Parkway waterfall got its name, but no worries, in the summer months guests will be showing off their bathing suits, not their birthday suits. Skinny Dip is a don't-miss waterfall along your parkway journey! 
  10. Devil's Courthouse: Take a short but strenuous hike to the summit of the Devil's Courthouse to soak up an ocean of mountains. Just don't wake up Judaculla, a giant that lived in one of the mountain's caves according to Cherokee legend.
  11. Grandfather Mountain: Whether you choose to hike to the top or drive instead, Grandfather Mountain's 360-degree view and mile-high swinging bridge is sure to take your breath away. 
  12. Crabtree Falls: A stunning 60-foot waterfall that is accessible by a 2.5-loop hike. Soak up the journey as you hike through rhododendrons, a lush forest, and a trail filled with ferns and wildflowers. 
  13. Rattlesnake Lodge: Explore a piece of Blue Ridge Parkway history as you take a step back in time on a hike to the former site and ruins of a 1920s lodge.
  14. Mountains-To-Sea Trail: A 1,175-mile trail that reaches from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. You can access segments of the Mountains-To-Sea along the parkway to customize your experience of the trail to fit your hiking goals. The MTS crosses over the highest summit east of the Missippippi River, Mount Mitchell, at 6,684 feet. 
  15. Waterrock Knob to Browning Knob: Hike to a tucked-away trail gem, a plane crash site from 1983 on Browning Knob. You can then continue on to the summit of Mount Lyn Lowry at an elevation of 6,240 feet. 

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Photos from Summer and Autumn of 2018 along the Blue Ridge Parkway
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