|September 25 – October 3
Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway is like driving through autumn with the road corridored by trees at the start of the season when the foliage changes colour, from green to yellow orange and red. It is beautiful to experience this time of year here and be immersed in the natural wonder it creates.
Even driving through thick fog does not dampen the enthusiasm of the drive. Though major scenery cannot be sighted, the fog adds its own beauty to the day. The BRP is a trip on its own and worth more time than what we have to offer. The decision on what trails to hike and which waterfalls to see is sometimes hard to make. We wish we could see and do them all and stop in every town along the way, and we can’t.
A good hike for us was a late afternoon walk to Linville Falls that has 3 different viewing areas as you climb higher along the trail. Surrounded by fall colours it is an easy walk well worth the time. And camping at the nearby campgrounds offers stunning views to the surrounding riverside trees. Did I mention how wonderful the autumn colours are???
The BRP is a 469 mile road that runs from the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. The area encompassing the BRP combines with these 2 great bookends to provide wonderful sightseeing opportunities and magical places to visit. The road is listed as an All American Road and runs along the high ridges at the southern end of the Appalachian mountain range. Definitely a must drive and see trip for everyone to make.
One highlight on the drive was a stop at Grandfather Mountain area which includes a wildlife park, swinging bridge 1 mile above sea level, and a fantastic walking trail. The wildlife park has bears, otters, deer and a cougar. They also have a museum and fudge shop which makes it a must visit.
The hike was the best I have done on this trip and probably forever. It was not one of these smooth paths and steps trails. On this one you climbed rock faces and ladders to get further up the muddy uneven path. Even though the length I walked was 0.9 miles it was up hill and tough all the way. The views from the top were fucking awesome and the fog hanging on one side of the range made it even more spectacular.
Along our way north on the Parkway we detoured to see some local towns that sounded interesting. One of these was Mount Airy, the birthplace of Andy Griffith and the inspiration for Mayberry in the Andy Griffith Show. They do not lose the opportunity to promote themselves and ride on the success of the show.
In fact there were more businesses called Mayberry and named after characters from the show than called Mount Airy. It was fun to see the old photos and videos being played and also see an old Sheriff’s car being driven around. I even enjoyed a chocolate malt from the soda fountain (milk bar) in the main street.
Another town that caught our fancy was a place called Floyd. I’d never been to a Floyd before so this was an exciting visit for me. Floyd is a funky little town on the local bluegrass music trail and has some really nice homely shops and galleries to explore. This was coupled with an overnight stay in Galax which is also on the music trail.
Nearing the end of our BRP trip we took another detour to walk around a nature trail that included a natural bridge once explored by a young George Washington who carved his initials in the rock, making him a very early graffiti artist. The area was later owned by Thomas Jefferson, making it a very prestigious monument. The site also included a creek walk and waterfall plus an indoor butterfly sanctuary making it a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon.
Speaking of Mr Jefferson, we took the opportunity to tour his private estate, Monticello after completing the BRP, more about that later. Our last day night on the parkway was spent in a lakeside campground with the wind howling through and rain falling. It was not pleasant and woke to similar conditions in the morning making the lakeside walk a very short one.
A short drive later and we had completed our drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway over 9 days. It was wonderful to do and see the foliage changing to the fall colours along the way. The show would have been better in the coming weeks however we don’t have that time luxury on our side so will take what we can get.