The prettiest stretch of highway in the South, the Blue Ridge Parkway, curls along mountain ridges between two national parks--Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains. The 469-mile road reveals remarkable panoramic views of tree-blanketed mountains stretching to the horizon.
August is a perfect month to make the drive. The parkway, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, offers an oasis from the summer heat. Temperatures can be 15 to 20 degrees cooler at altitudes reaching 6,047 feet, the highest point on the federal parkway. A jacket or sweater could come in handy at night.
Roadside flowers, including asters, goldenrod, sunflowers, and ironweed, also bloom brightly along the way, making the drive especially spectacular this time of year. The crowds lessen in late summer too. This makes the attractions--scenic hikes, cozy lodges, and great restaurants--all the more enjoyable.
Small markers beside the road count the miles as the parkway courses southward from Virginia to North Carolina. Follow along with us as we visit some terrific stops along the drive.