Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Monday, August 30, 2010

Blue Ridge Parkway (NC), Part 1, August 26-30

More than 200 overlooks on the
Blue Ridge Parkway
From the planning stages of this cross-country trip, I was looking forward to driving the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Although not a National Park per se, it is managed by the National Park Service. 

The vistas show layer after layer
of mountains in the distance

This 469-mile manicured road runs through the rugged mountains of North Carolina, then north into Virginia.  It has a total of 26 tunnels, over 200 overlooks, 4 lodges, 6 restaurants, 8 campgrounds, many hiking trails, and too many associated natural and cultural sites to count. 

Morning fog in the valleys

This is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world.  And the Blue Ridge Mountains themselves are among the oldest in the world.  It is truly a magical place.

I spent more than 3 weeks on the parkway because there was so much to see, do and experience.  So, to make the blog post more manageable, I'm breaking it into 3 parts.

The highest elevation on the Parkway
is in North Carolina.

I drove the parkway from The Great Smoky Mountains National Park toward Shenandoah National Park, from south to north.

In this southern-most section, I found my favorite campground on the Parkway, Mt. Pisgah ... quiet, lots of nice sites, clean bathroom and showers. 

Rock outcroppings line the parkway,
ancient sentries of the journey.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the Folk Art Center that is managed by the Parkway.  Unfortunately, I couldn't take any pictures there ... but, the handwork, carvings, musical instruments, and more were wonderful to see.  My favorite piece was a small wooden carving of an older mountain woman with a nail in her mouth, wielding a hammer, working to shape a horseshoe on an anvil.  I loved the implied "can do it" meaning.

Craggy Gardens area is covered with
blooming rhododendrons in the spring.

Driving through one of the 26 tunnels.
Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak
east of the Mississippi.
originally posted 10/4/10

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