Blue Ridge Parkway Quarter
The National Park Service calls the Blue Ridge Parkway “America’s Favorite Drive.” Featuring mountains, landscapes and forests, the roadway meanders 469 miles from North Carolina to Virginia, connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Shenandoah National Park.
Since its beginning during the Great Depression, this National Scenic Byway remains the nation’s most-visited National Park. In addition to enjoying a beautiful drive, you can stop at nearly 300 overlooks along the way to see the sights.
Some cool and fun facts about the parkway:
- The Blue Ridge represents one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the world with about 100 varieties of trees, 1,600 plant species, 54 mammals and 159 species of birds.
- Workers took 52 years to build the roadway from start to finish. They started it in 1935 and built it in sections. Most of it was finished and open by the 1960’s, according to the National Park Service, but the final section around Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina didn’t open until 1987.
- The parkway follows the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a part of the Appalachian Mountain chain.
- The “blue” in Blue Ridge comes from its trees. They release hydrocarbons into the atmosphere, giving the mountains a blue haze, according to “A Naturalist’s Blue Ridge Parkway” by David Catlin.
- The Blue Ridge Parkway is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Its protected buildings include a log cabin of a mountain pioneer, the summer home of a textile magnate, and traces of early industries such as logging, railways and an old canal.
- The Federal Highway Administration designated the Blue Ridge Parkway as an All-American Road. That means it has features that are unique and important enough to be tourist destinations. It also features at least two of these qualities: archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic.
While most visitors drive along the parkway, more and more people are biking the road that also features 100 hiking trails and plenty of campgrounds.