Blue Ridge Parkway America’s Favorite Drive through North Carolina & Virginia

Blue Ridge Parkway overview Map The speed limit is 45 miles per hour a little less in some places. The Blue Ridge Parkway was designed for leisurely motoring. Take your time and discover the subtlety as well as the grandeur of this special place.

You do not have to be at an overlook to stop and enjoy the scenery. Unless otherwise posted, parking is permitted along road shoulders. Choose a place where you can pull your car completely off the road so as not to endanger yourself or others. Be alert for wildlife. Deer and other animals may dart in front of you.

Extra vigilance is needed when driving in fog and rain. Slow down and turn on your headlights. A little caution will help assure that inclement weather only dampens picnics and temporarily impairs the scenic views.

Motorcyclists - should be especially alert. Approved helmets are required for operators and passengers. In North Carolina, the headlight must be on anytime a motorcycle is in motion.

If in an accident, try to prevent others from becoming involved by using reflective warning devices or flares, or by positioning someone beside the road to flag oncoming vehicles. Notify a Park Ranger at a nearby visitor center or campground or call (800) 727-5928.

The Parkway incorporates several recreation areas, some exceeding 6,000 acres. These parks within the Parkway have visitor centers, camp grounds, picnic areas, trails and, in many instances, concessionaire-operated lodges, restaurants, gas stations and other facilities.

Regulations and Advice

  1. To help protect and preserve the Blue Ridge Parkway, yourself, and others, observe all park regulations. Be alert for uncontrolled fire, safety hazards, accidents and emergencies. Please report such conditions by calling 1-800-PARKWATCH (1-800) 727-5928).
  2. Drive Carefully. The maximum speed limit is 45 miles per hour. Report any accident to a Park Ranger. Commercial vehicles are not permitted on the Parkway. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not permitted on Parkway trails.
  3. Roadside Parking. Parking is limited to designated parking areas or road shoulders. All four wheels must be off the pavement.
  4. Trails. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not permitted on Parkway trails.
  5. Camping. Camping is permitted only in park campgrounds or designated back-country sites.
  6. Pets. Dogs and other pets must be on a leash or under physical restraint at all times while in the Park. The territorial instinct of dogs can lead to fights with other dogs on the trail. Dogs also frighten hikers and chase wildlife. If a pet cannot be kept under control, it should be left at home.
  7. Do not swim in Parkway lakes and ponds. They are for fishing and scenic beauty only. Swimming facilities are available in nearby U.S. forest Services recreation areas, state parks, and mountain resorts.
  8. Prevent Forest Fires. Fires, including charcoal grills, are permitted in campgrounds and picnic areas only.
  9. Boats without motor or sail are permitted on Price Lake.
  10. Deposit all litter in the trash cans provided at trail heads, parking overlooks, and picnic areas.
  11. Metal detectors are prohibited.
  12. Natural resources are protected by Federal law. Do not disturb animal and plant life in any way. Hunting, trapping and carrying weapons and possession of any contraband substances are prohibited. Do not interfere with animals by feeding, touching, or frightening them. Do not cut, deface, or damage trees. Leave wildflowers and other vegetation in their natural condition for other hikers to enjoy.
  13. Historic resources are protected by Federal law. Do not damage, deface, or remove any of these structures, furnishings, or exhibits.
  14. Alcoholic Beverages are permitted in campgrounds by registered campers and in picnic areas until 9 pm.
  15. Possession of open containers of alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles is prohibited.

Important Advice

  1. Lock valuables in the trunk of your car or take them with you.
  2. Hiking shoes or boots are recommended for most trails, especially the more strenuous ones. Steep and rocky areas and slippery stream crossings require extra attention and careful footing. Even for trails marked "easy," it is advisable to wear flat or rubber-soled shoes for comfort and good traction. Wearing scandals, "flip-flops," or high heels can result in accidents.
  3. Sudden changes in weather are common in these mountains. Even in mild seasons, rapid dips in temperature and unexpected thunderstorms frequently occur, and at higher elevations the wind and temperature can carry a surprising chill. Be prepared for weather changes by bringing along suitable clothing.
  4. For your safety and the protection of the resources, stay on established trails. Shortcutting at switchbacks causes soil erosion, disfigures the trail, and makes it difficult for other hikers to find their way. Take advantage of log walkways, steps, or other trail construction. They are there to minimize human impact on the natural environment.
  5. Do not drink the water in streams or springs. Bacterial diseases can be contracted by drinking untreated "wild" waters.

The Blue Ridge Parkway follows the Appalachian Mountain chain for seemingly endless views of parallel ranges connected by cross ranges and scattered hills. From Shenandoah National Park the parkway follows the Blue Ridge, eastern rampart of the Appalachians, for 355 miles. For the remaining 114 miles it first skirts the southern end of the massive Black Mountains, named for the dark green spruce and fir that cover them. Then it weaves through the Craggies, the Pisgahs, the Balsams to end up in the Great Smokies.

Wildlife is a delight along the parkway. When the Sun is high groundhogs sit erect, and chipmunks and squirrels chitter and chatter. At night skunks, foxes, opossums, and raccoons are seen along roadsides. Look for white-tailed deer, turkeys, and black bears in early morning or eve-ning. Salamanders less conspicuous but often more colorful thrive in this moisture rich environment. Over 100 bird species may be seen during the spring migration.

Blue Ridge Parkway is one of over 390 parks in the National Park System. The National Park Service cares for these special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. Visit to learn more about parks and National Park Service programs in America's communities.

The southern Appalachian Mountains' diverse history and culture are described at many overlooks and facilities along the parkway, including Humpback Rocks, Peaks of Otter, Mabry Mill, Blue Ridge Music Center, Brinegar Cabin, Northwest Trading Post, and the Parkway Craft Center at Moses H. Cone Memorial Park.

In the Asheville area, stop at the Folk Art Center for craft demonstrations and at the Destination Center for general parkway information and planning your trip.

The Park Watch Program allows you to help protect yourself, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and other visitors. To report criminal activity, accidents, fires, and other emergencies call 1-800-PARKWATCH (1-800-727-5928).

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