Happy Birthday to the Blue Ridge Parkway!


Clyde (our dog), me and my wife Elise on top of Waterrock Knob, circa 2001

By Jeff

Before moving to Bryson City, my wife and I vacationed in the mountains of Western North Carolina at least once per year (often twice).  Our “home base” then was Black Mountain, NC – about  20 minutes east of Asheville.  When we visited the mountains we basically did the same thing every day – we got on the Blue Ridge Parkway and headed somewhere new.  We are avid hikers, so usually our destination was a new trail.  But, we also sought out waterfalls, long range views, and historical landmarks.  We fell in love with the Blue Ridge Parkway and all it had to offer us.

Now this 469 mile long national treasure is celebrating its 75th birthday!  That’s right, construction began on the Blue Ridge Parkway in September of 1935.  Back then is was called the Appalachian Scenic Highway, but locals shortened it to “The Scenic.”  This and all sorts of fun facts can be found at the Official 75th Anniversary web site.  For example, did you know:

  • The Blue Ridge Parkway was specifically designed to connect the Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains national parks.
  • There are over 14,000 signs on the Parkway, but no billboards!
  • The highest elevation on the Blue Ridge Parkway is  in North Carolina (6,053 feet).
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway boasts the most diverse range of flora and fauna in the entire National Park Service system.

If you’d like more in-depth information on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the library has plenty of resources for you to check out:

You may be wondering if my wife and I still spend as much time traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway now that we live only a few miles from it?  Well, the honest answer is no we’re not on the Blue Ridge Parkway every weekend searching for a new perfect place to hike.  We spend most of our time hiking the Nantahala National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  However, last summer we made it up to Shining Rock to pick wild blueberries and we plan to do the same again this August!

Elise and wild blueberry bushes near Shining Rock (if you look hard, Clyde is in this photo too), circa 2009.

8 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to the Blue Ridge Parkway!

  1. Oh man, I picked the best blueberries I’ve ever had from Tennent Mountain — right near Shining Rock, too! I’ll be checking up on it soon since it’s just about time. Mmm!


  2. Waterrock is one of my favorite trails. We used to go every spring to the Parkway looking for the Pink Shell Azalea and usually walked Waterrock, at least in part, but most of the time, to the top. You can see forever from up there. I second that Happy Birthday, BRP!


  3. Your post makes me want to get out there even more. I’m mostly into waterfalls. I have been to a lot of the falls in Northern Georgia and Southwestern North Carolina. I really enjoyed the post.


  4. I love exploring my own big backyard! I just checked out Kevin Adam’s ‘Backroads of North Carolina’ and I can’t wait to get out there!


    • A friend told me it was really hot, even up there, last weekend. Those blueberries are worth every drop of sweat though.


      • It was! Brian and I thought we’d escape to cooler temps in the high elevations, but we were mistaken. 6000′ didn’t stand a chance against this recent weather. But you’re right, those berries were totally worth it.


  5. We are so spoiled here in the Smoky Mtn.’s, all this awsome nature is right outside our back door. I for one am pleased to be a transplant. Now about those blueberries, there my favorite fruit, right there w/ strawberries, cherries, etc.etc..


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