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:
- Best Easy Day Hikes, Blue Ridge Parkway, by Randy Johnson
- Building the Blue Ridge Parkway, by Karen J. Hall
- The Blue Ridge Parkway by Foot : a Park Ranger’s Memoir, by Tim Pegram
- Super-Scenic Motorway: a Blue Ridge Parkway History, by Anne Mitchell Whisnant
- Guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway, by Victoria Logue
- Walking the Blue Ridge : a Guide to the Trails of the Blue Ridge Parkway, by Leonard M. Adkins
- Wildflowers of the Blue Ridge Parkway, by J. Anthony Alderman
- Birds of Shenandoah National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park : a Field Guide, by Ernest Preston Edwards
- A Naturalist’s Blue Ridge Parkway, by David T. Catlin
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!