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Blue Ridge Parkway questions

Williamsville, New...
Level Contributor
162 posts
2 reviews
Blue Ridge Parkway questions

I'm in the land of confusion -- help!

I see that the BRP is over 400 miles long. We are planning on driving the entire parkway from north to south and getting off near Ashville to visit The Biltmore Estate. After the Biltmore, we are getting back on the parkway and heading to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

My main questions of help are:

1.) If we started driving in the morning, how far could we get in one day and what are some "must do" things to do in that one day?

2.) Are there any places to stay towards the end of one day of driving? Could we make it all the way to Ashville and still get in some "must sees"?

Any type of travels suggestions would be VERY helpful.....

I'm having a hard time figuring out how long this drive should take, including doing some sight-seeing on the way down.

I will also post this in the NC forum. I'll take any help that I can get! Thanks!! ;-)

Virginia Beach...
Destination Expert
for Suffolk
Level Contributor
1,651 posts
186 reviews
1. Re: Blue Ridge Parkway questions

Hi again, I'll try to help answer some of your questions. Everything depends on how much time you have, how much you plan to hike, sightsee, etc.

Here's a basic suggestion:

Day 1 Begin mp0 Front royal entrance to Shenandoah NP, stop at many overlooks, hike, stay overnight at Skyland Lodge (mp41) or Big Meadows (mp51, if open)

Day 2 Hike and overlooks, stay at Peaks of Otter Lodge mp86, near Bedford Va (in Bedford visit the Natl D-Day Veterans Monument if interested)

Day 3 Hike, etc, proceed to Asheville, Biltmore tour etc, stay in Asheville if late in day, or (my choice) get back on BRP for about 45 min and spend night at The Pisgah Inn, www.pisgahinn.com, great place, restaurant looks over mountains, couldn't tell you if the food is good or not because I was so impressed with the views I didn't notice food

Day 4 continue BRP to Cherokee NC entrance to Great Smoky Mtn NP (about 2 hrs), I did not especially care for Cherokee, but it does have a casino if you are interested, the GSMNP visitors center at the Cherokee entrance is great and there is a nice leg stretcher hike at the center, trail goes next to stream and old bldgs., get info from rangers about GSMNP hikes etc, stay night in Cherokee or, my choice, drive through GSMNP (1+ hr) to Gatlinburg TN and stay there. Should also have time for overlooks and even side trip off main road to Clingman's Dome (don't miss this, best views without even hiking!)

Day 5 GSMNP, if you plan to be in the Park at all, go to the forum, the local experts are great, extremely helpful (just type Great Smoky Mountain Park in the forum box).

Check some other posts in the forum for specific hikes, and sightseeing suggestions along the BRP.

Hope this helps some. Happy trails.

Chesapeake, VA
Destination Expert
for Virginia Beach
Level Contributor
3,911 posts
65 reviews
2. Re: Blue Ridge Parkway questions

I'm so glad goneagain has a plan for breaking up that drive - I had no idea how much you could do in a day. But here's my 2 cents:

1. If you like wineries at all, there are several - Villa Appelachia and Chateau Morrisette are both at milepost 170-171, AmRhein at mp. 136.

2. Mabry Mill is a must see/do mp. 176.

Williamsville, New...
Level Contributor
162 posts
2 reviews
3. Re: Blue Ridge Parkway questions

Hi again Goneagain2,

Can you tell I'm still "lost"! ;-) Thanks for all your suggestions. I like the addition of the D-Day Monument -- I didn't know about that one and we'll have to check it out!

I just have one more question and I guess it's my BIG one that I'm not sure if I want the answer to:

How long will this drive take time-wise?

This is our tentative itinerary:

Day 1). Leave Western NY at 5:00 pm and drive to Bedford, PA for a few winks.

Day 2). Drive to Front Royal and begin the drive. Stop at the visitor center and talk with the ranger to see what he suggests for a hike. Visit many overlooks. End that day in Staunton, VA. Visit Frontier Culture Museum (or do this the next day). If we are not worn out, we'll take in a show at Blackfriars Playhouse.

Day 3). Head to Charlottesville to see the Monticello and UVA campus. Would love to see James Madison's Montpelier, but I don't think we have time!! Start our drive on the BRP. Would we make it to Peaks of Otter Lodge by the end of this day? Could we make it further?? I'm so confused as to how long the driving takes as the speed limit is low and I know we'll want to get out and look once in awhile, etc.

Day 4). Continue on drive. We're very interested in Grandfather Mountain and the swinging bridge, etc. Would love to have time to go there. End day in Ashville??? Will we make it in one day??

Day 5). Biltmore Estate in the morning and then do the GSNMP the rest of the day. End drive in Murfreesboro, TN

Day 6 & 7). Visit relatives

Day 8). Drive to Memphis (one day of activities there). Stay overnight.

Day 9). Drive to Mammoth Cave (one day of activities there). Stay overnight.

Day 10). Drive home.

My dilemma is that we were taking this trip to visit relatives and now we have two days to visit, because there's too many great places to visit on the way there! I'm trying to make the beginning of the trip shorter, but I don't know how! Is it possible to do what looks like a four-day trip in three? I'm respectively asking, is it possible to drive the BRP in one day? I think I already know the answer......

Chesapeake, VA
Destination Expert
for Virginia Beach
Level Contributor
3,911 posts
65 reviews
4. Re: Blue Ridge Parkway questions

Re Day 3 - In "real road time" the drive from Cha'ville to Bedford would be only about 2 hours. So even if you double that and factor in some gazing time, you're looking at 1/2 day maybe? I find that after awhile, I can't stop at anymore overlooks because it all looks the same, just from a different angle.

Williamsville, New...
Level Contributor
162 posts
2 reviews
5. Re: Blue Ridge Parkway questions

Thanks Wendymath. I hear what you are saying about over time overlooks looking the same.

I've been told and I know he's right, that I'm planning too much to do in too short of time. So, I'm going to hit the I-81 after visiting Cha'ville and bypass some of the BRP.

Thanks for your time and your help!

Virginia Beach...
Destination Expert
for Suffolk
Level Contributor
1,651 posts
186 reviews
6. Re: Blue Ridge Parkway questions

This sounds like a great trip, no matter what routes you take. Here are a couple of considerations in scheduling....

There are several places you can save time by taking more direct routes than BRP, yet still enjoy many miles of the parkway.

Day 2 If you drive from Bedford Pa to Front Royal to Staunton (pronounced Stanton) it will take you about 6 hrs, no hikes, no long stops, but time for overlooks. That would probably put you in Staunton in time to do the things you want to do. OR you could bypass Shenandoah NP and drive from Bedford PA to Charlottesville (3 1/2 hr); visit things in C'ville on day 2, maybe do some things in Waynesboro late day 2 or day 3 and back to BRP and finish day 3 at Peaks of Otter, just something to think about...back to original schedule

Day 3 C'ville, plenty of time for things you want to do, take BRP 2- 21/2 hr to Peaks of Otter Lodge, or take I81 is you spent too much time enjoying C'ville

Day 4 Yes, you can do what you palnned in day 4

Day 5 Yes, but it will be tight, you can save 1-1 1/2 hr by not going via BRP but taking 240w/40w/74w/19s to end in Cherokee NC and enter GSMNP, drive through enjoy the beautiful overlooks, don't miss Clingman's Dome (use the time saver so you can go), then go to Murfreesboro Tn. Keep in mind, the time saving drive from Asheville to Cherokee, through GSMNP, to Murfreesboro Tn is about 7 hr, so you will be there in time for dinner!

Start out with a plan and if you find you don't have enough time just take a faster route. I81 is close to the BRP, but be careful it's like the Daytona 500 with semi's. I'll be hiking for the next few days if you don't hear from me. Have a wonderful trip.

Birmingham, AL
Level Contributor
1,159 posts
34 reviews
7. Re: Blue Ridge Parkway questions

I'll add that a lot depends on what time of year you are going, as well as the day of the week.

Summer will slow things down some, but will also change the things you may want to see.

Do you want to hike eack day?

Do you want to challenging hikes, or easy strolling ones?

waterfalls?

wildlife?

Or scenic drive after scenic drive?

Do you wnat to see one vineyard on the tour just to say you did so, or many of the wineries, or none at all?

Are there kids with you?

Do you want to do activities like horseback riding?

If you can time it where you are seeing the Biltmore and the GSMNP on weekdays, that will give you more time. Shenandoah is not as crowded as Smokies, which makes it prettier!

Don't miss Shenandoah NP...simply beautiful.

Charlottesville is as well.

Speaking of I-81 being like the Daytona 500...there ARE a couple of racing weekends in Bristol you want to be sure you do not clash with as well.

IMO, your Day 5 is really tight, especially with driving to Murf. at night, but if all you do is drive through the GSMNP, perhaps you can do it?

Can you family in Murfreesboro perhaps meet you in the mountains for part of you rvavation? Or maybe go to KY with you?

Can you save Memphis for another trip? (4 hr drive from Murfreesboro; 5 hr from Memphis to Mammoth Cave).

Whatever you end up doing, sounds really fun!

Miller

Virginia Beach...
Destination Expert
for Suffolk
Level Contributor
1,651 posts
186 reviews
8. Re: Blue Ridge Parkway questions

I was on th BRP today driving from Charlottesville to Peaks of Otter, mp86. At about mp 66 the parkway was closed (not sure but I think there was a fire). Keep this phone number handy, it's the BRP info line, recorded info about closures etc, 828 2980398. I've never experienced a closed section of the BRP but I'm sure it happens from time to time. The GSMNP probably has a similar info number, check the web site. Happy trails.

9. Re: Blue Ridge Parkway questions

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