Secret Spots on the Blue Ridge
Driving the parkway can be overwhelming. After all, it covers 469 miles across two states—Virginia and North Carolina. These don’t-miss spots will give you the best of this scenic road. It takes about three days to drive it at a leisurely 45 mph pace with time for stops.
Uncrowded lakeside view, ideal for fall photos of turning leaves reflected on water
Mile 86: Peaks of Otter Lodge
The parkway’s only year-round hotel, with mountain and lake views. peaksofotter.com or 540/586-1081
Mile 154: Smart View Picnic Area
Large wooded picnic and day-use area with restrooms and a 2.6-mile moderately easy trail
Mile 170: The Saddle Trail
Hike 0.2 mile from the Saddle overlook to the original parkway shelter, a stone hut.
Photo: Mabry Mill, located off Milepost 176
An old-timey country store selling homemade wooden bowls and apple butter
Southern Highland Craft Guild houses a crafts gallery in the 23-room Beaux Arts mansion.
Mile 304: The Lincove Viaduct
The last bit of parkway opened in 1987, preserving Grandfather Mountain
Photo: Milepost 303, near Grandfather Mountain
5-mile spur road to highest point east of the Mississippi River at 6,684 feet; offers hot apple cider, ncparks.gov
Mile 451: Waterrock Knob
A 360-degree, four-state view; it’s the best view of the Smokies, the Nantahalas, the Pisgahs, and the Cowee Mountains and the best sunrise/sunset spot
Photo: Eseeola Lodge, five minutes off Milepost 308 in Linville, eseeola.com
For more information on the Blue Ridge Parkway, visit blueridgeparkway.org.