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Milepost Highlights in North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Parkway crosses the North Carolina-Virginia state line at mile 216.9. The 1749 party that surveyed the boundary included Peter Jefferson, father of Thomas Jefferson.


Mile 217.5 - Cumberland Knob, at 2,885 feet (879 m), is a delightful spot to walk through fields and woodlands.


Mile 218.6 - Fox Hunters Paradise, a 10-minute walk, is where hunters could listen to their hounds baying in the valley below.


Mile 238.5 - Brinegar Cabin was built by Martin Brinegar about 1880 and lived in until the 1930s when the homestead was purchased from his widow for the parkway. The original cabin stands there today.


Mile 238.5 to 244.7 - Doughton Park was named for Congressman Robert L. Doughton, a staunch supporter and neighbor of the parkway. One of the best places to see deer. Campground.


Mile 258.6 - Northwest Trading Post offers crafts from North Carolina's northwestern counties.


Mile 260.6 - Jumpinoff Rock, at the end of a short woodland trail, offers a beautiful vista.


Mile 264.4 - The Lump provides sweeping views of the forested foothills.


Mile 272.0 - E. B. Jeffress Park has a self-guided trail to the Cascades. Another trail goes to the old cabin and church.


Mile 285.1 - Daniel Boone's Trace, which Boone blazed to the West, crosses near here.


Mile 292.0 to 295.0 - Moses H. Cone Memorial Park has hiking, fishing and horse trails. Flat Top Manor, the house of Moses H. Cone has Parkway Craft Center.


Mile 295.1 to 298.0 - Julian Price Memorial Park, the former retreat of the insurance executive Julian Price, offers a variety of short trails and a 47 acre lake.


Mile 304.4 - Linn Cove Viaduct, a design and engineering marvel, skirts the side of Grandfather Mountain. Visitor center and trails.


Mile 308.3 - Flat Rock is worth the walk for the superb view of Grandfather Mountain and Linville Valley.


Mile 316.3 - Linville Falls roars through the dramatic rugged Linville Gorge. Trails to overlooks.


Mile 320.7 - Chestoa View trail provides outstanding scenery.


Mile 331.0 - Museum of North Carolina Minerals interprets the state's mineral wealth.


Mile 339.5 - Crabtree Meadows Walk to Crabtree Falls. Campground.


Mile 355.4 - Mount Mitchell State Park, reached via N.C. 128, has a picnic area, lookout tower, and the highest point east of the Mississippi River.


Mile 361.2 - Glassmine Falls, an 800-foot (240 m) ephemeral waterfall visible from an overlook on the side of the parkway.


Mile 363.4 to 369.6 - Craggy Gardens in the Great Craggy Mountains appear covered with purple rhododendron in mid to late June. Craggy Pinnacle Trail and other trails (364.1 and 364.6); road to picnic area and trails (367.6).


Mile 382.0 - The Folk Art Center is the flagship facility of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. It offers sales and exhibits of traditional and contemporary crafts of the Appalachian region. Interpretive programs, three galleries, a library and a book store.


Mile 408.6 - Mount Pisgah was part of the Biltmore Estate. The estate became home of the first forestry school in America and the nucleus of the Pisgah National Forest.


Mile 417.0 - Looking Glass Rock is visible from many spots on the Parkway starting at Mount Pisgah.


Mile 418.0 - East Fork Overlook. Located here are the headwaters of the Pigeon River. Yellowstone Falls is a short distance away and gets its name from the yellowish moss covering the rocks. You can find U.S. Forest Service trail access to Shining Rock Wilderness Trail system here.

Asheville, NC Visitor Center 2013
Downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty. It runs for 469 miles (755 km), mostly through the famous Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains. Land on either side of the road is maintained by the National Park Service. It is the longest, narrowest National Park in the world and is the most visited unit in the United States National Park System. In many places, the park is bordered by land protected by the United States Forest Service.

History

Begun during the administration of U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt, the project was originally called the "Appalachian Scenic Highway." Most construction was carried out by private contractors under federal contracts under an authorization by Harold L. Ickes in his role as federal public works administrator. Work began on September 11, 1935 near Cumberland Knob in North Carolina; construction in Virginia began the following February. On June 30, 1936, Congress formally authorized the project as the "Blue Ridge Parkway" and placed it under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Some work was carried out by various New Deal public works agencies. The Works Progress Administration did some roadway construction. Crews from the Emergency Relief Administration carried out landscape work and development of parkway recreation areas. Personnel from four Civilian Conservation Corps camps worked on roadside cleanup, roadside plantings, grading slopes and improving adjacent fields and forest lands. During World War II, the CCC crews were replaced by conscientious objectors in the Civilian Public Service program.

Blue Ridge Parkway - Asheville

Construction of the parkway took over fifty-two years to complete, the last stretch (near the Linn Cove Viaduct) being laid around Grandfather Mountain in 1987. The Blue Ridge Parkway tunnels were constructed through the rock -- one in Virginia and twenty-five in North Carolina. Sections of the Parkway near the tunnels are often closed in winter. (Due to dripping groundwater from above, freezing temperatures, and the lack of sunshine, ice often accumulates inside these areas even when the surrounding areas are above freezing.) The highest point on the parkway (south of Waynesville, near Mount Pisgah in North Carolina) is 6047 feet (according to the 2005 Parkway map) or 1845 m above sea level (AMSL) on Richland Balsam Mountain at Milepost 431, and is often closed from November to April due to inclement weather such as snow, fog, and even freezing fog from low clouds. The parkway is carried across streams, railway ravines and cross roads by 168 bridges and six viaducts.

Blue Ridge Parkway - Asheville

The parkway runs from the southern terminus of Shenandoah National Park's Skyline Drive in Virginia at Rockfish Gap to U.S. Route 441 at Oconaluftee in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee, North Carolina. There is no fee for using the parkway, however commercial vehicles are prohibited without approval from the Park Service Headquarters, near Asheville, North Carolina.[citation needed] The roadway is not maintained in the winter, and sections which pass over especially high elevations and through tunnels are often impassable and therefore closed from late fall through early spring. Weather is extremely variable in the mountains, so conditions and closures often change rapidly. The speed limit is never higher than 45 mph (70 km/h) and lower in some sections.

Blue Ridge Parkway - Asheville

The parkway uses short side roads to connect to other highways, and there are no direct interchanges with interstate highways, making it possible to enjoy wildlife and other scenery without stopping for cross-traffic. Mileposts along the parkway start at zero at the northeast end in Virginia and count to 469 at the southern end in North Carolina. The mileposts can be found on the west side of the road. Major towns and cities along the way include Waynesboro, Roanoke, and Galax in Virginia; and in North Carolina, Boone and Asheville, where it runs across the property of the Biltmore Estate. The Blue Ridge Music Center (also part of the park) is located in Galax, and Mount Mitchell (the highest point in eastern North America) is only accessible via a state road from the parkway at milepost 355.4.

The parkway has been referenced in popular culture, for example, in the Carbon Leaf song, "Blue Ridge Laughing".

Ecology along the parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway - Asheville

Wildflowers dominate the parkway in the spring, including rhododendrons and dogwoods, moving from valleys to mountains as the cold weather retreats. Smaller annuals and perennials such as the daisy and aster flower through the summer. Brilliant autumn foliage occurs later in September on the mountaintops, descending to the valleys by later in October. Often in early to middle October and middle to late April, all three seasons can be seen simply by looking down from the cold and windy parkway to the green and warm valleys below. October is especially dramatic, as the colored leaves stand out boldly and occur mostly at the same time, unlike the flowers.

Blue Ridge Parkway - Asheville

Major trees include oak, hickory, and tulip tree at lower elevations and buckeye and ash in the middle, turning into conifers such as fir and spruce at the highest elevations on the parkway. Trees near ridges, peaks, and passes (often called gaps or notches) are often distorted and even contorted by the wind, and persistent rime ice deposited by passing clouds in the winter.

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