All across America, RV camping fans are gearing up for scenic drives and outdoor adventures. The Blue Ridge Parkway ranks near the top of routes RV travelers should make time to discover. Connecting two national parks, two states and an amazing array of attractions on its four hundred seventy mile length, this scenic drive never disappoints. As you’re packing your RV gear for this year’s travels, consider these highlights on the legendary Blue Ridge Parkway.
- Shenandoah National Park – Virginia: The Blue Ridge Parkway’s northern terminus is in the tree-lined Appalachians of Shenandoah National Park. Take time to travel the park’s famed Skyline Drive before making your way to Rockfish Gap, where the beautiful Blue Ridge begins. Plan to slow things down and take in the scenery; the average speed on the Parkway is forty-five miles per hour!
- Peaks of Otter – Virginia (Milepost 86): Views of Sharp Top, Flat Top and Harkening Hill can furnish a scrapbook full of photos. The Peaks of Otter Campground is close to miles of hiking trails, a living history farm and great fishing on Abbott Lake. Camp here before moving on toward Roanoke; the scenery’s spectacular!
- Roanoke River Gorge – Virginia (Milepost 120): After stopping to admire the view at overlooks like Purgatory, get out and stretch your legs at Roanoke River Gorge. Near the city of Roanoke, this picturesque river gorge is adjacent to Roanoke Mountain campground. You’ll find a nice collection of hiking trails in the Roanoke Valley, so break out your walking shoes and treat yourself to some off-Parkway views.
- Smart View and Rocky Knob – Virginia (Mileposts 154-174): Pull off to enjoy Smart View overlook before moving on to Rocky Knob, where a campground, fascinating trails and nearby Mabry Mill offer a break that’s filled with great lodging and superlative scenery.
- Blue Ridge Music Center – Virginia (Milepost 213): Here’s the chance to continuing enjoying the Parkway’s breathtaking vistas while listening to great mountain music. The Blue Ridge Music Center near the North Carolina border celebrates the music that makes this region such a cultural treasure.
- Doughton Park – North Carolina (Milepost 239): Another well-run campground welcomes visitors to Doughton Park, where scenic hiking trails and the 1880s Brinegar Cabin are well worth a visit.
- Julian Price Memorial Park – North Carolina (Milepost 295): Continue south over Bluff Mountain with stops at Northwest Trading Post, The Lump and Cascades Falls at EB Jeffress Park before camping at Julian Price Memorial Park. The park’s proximity to Moses Cone Memorial Park and the Parkway Craft Center make this a don’t miss on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- Crabtree Meadows – North Carolina – (Milepost 339): By the time you’ve stopped to hike, learn about and experience all the wonders in the next 45 miles, you’re going to be ready to camp at Crabtree Meadows! Mosey south around Grandfather Mountain to Linn Cove Viaduct. Further south, Beacon Heights and Flat Rock offer amazing views of Pisgah National Forest. At Linville Falls Visitors Center, old growth trees, heritage stone fences and a breathtaking view of Linville Gorge make hiking the trail worthwhile. When you’ve looked your fill, meander through the mountains to the Museum of North Carolina Minerals. RV Traveler Tip: Dash over to Little Switzerland for a quick side trip to a wonderful alpine community before coming to rest at Crabtree Meadows campground.
South to the Parkway’s Southern Terminus
If you’re only going to see a short section of the Parkway, jump on at Crabtree Meadows and journey south. In between Crabtree Meadows and the Parkway’s southern terminus is some of the most magnificent mountain roadway in America. Not only is this the highest elevation section, there are so many attractions you’ll wish you’d planned more time!
Here are some time-tested favorites of RV campers:
- Mount Mitchell State Park – Milepost 355 – highest point east of the Mississippi River.
- Craggy Gardens – Milepost 365 – outstanding Appalachian Mountain wildflowers all summer.
- Folk Art Center – Milepost 382 – learn about the art and music of the Southern Appalachians at this Center just north of Asheville, NC. A trip into Asheville will charm your RV traveling crew, as well.
- Pisgah National Forest – Milepost 408 – the views, the wildlife and the campground in the Parkway’s highest developed area are only three reasons to spend at least one night here.
- Oconaluftee Visitors Center – Southern End of Parkway – From Mount Pisgah, it’s a wild ride south through a twisting, turning length of Blue Ridge Parkway. Build time into your agenda to enjoy spots along the way like Looking Glass Rock Overlook, Beech Gap and Richland Balsam. You’ll also love the view of the Great Smokies from the overlook at Waterrock Knob.
Here’s where you’ll have to do some planning to enjoy the rest of the drive south. Tunnels on the snakelike road just south of Waterrock Knob are under twelve feet high, so depending on what you’re driving, you may have to use a towed vehicle to complete the Parkway. Venture onto the Cherokee Indian Reservation within magnificent Great Smoky Mountains National Park to find the southern-most end of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
For an extraordinary experience, spend a leisurely RV camping trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. See here for more information on the Parkway’s nine campgrounds (all approximately $20 or less per night!) and get in touch with El Monte RV in Roanoke, VA for RV rentals. A timeless taste of beauty, history and outdoor adventure is waiting for you on the Parkway.