The Blue Ridge Parkway is a road tripper’s dream.
Not only does every twist and turn of the 469-mile route offer a picturesque view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it also has a variety of challenging hikes, comfortable lodging areas (whether you’re looking to camp or glamp), as well as hidden hide outs—many of which are the perfect places for sunrise and sunset viewing.
Here’s a worthwhile journey down the Blue Ridge Parkway that will have you touring the East Coast hills and valleys in an efficient and worthwhile manner, with the option to head home to NoVA before the day’s end if you’re just looking for a day away.
The closest access point to the Blue Ridge Parkway is at US Highway 250 and I-64 from the Waynesboro, Staunton and Charlottesville areas. This is the beginning of Skyline Drive in Virginia, known as the Blue Ridge Parkway North Entrance.
It’s important to note that once you start your drive, you’ll want to keep track of the mile markers along the way. GPS navigation systems, regardless of if they’re on your smart phone or not, do not work well on the Parkway. At the connection of the Parkway and The Shenandoah National Park, this is milepost zero.
Also, be sure to have your camera ready. No matter the time of year you’re visiting, whether it’s during the fall’s peak of color or the dead-middle of summer, there’s a beautiful view at almost every turn. Lookout for lookouts, too. Some spots are named and have accessible areas to park and snap a photo, whereas others are a bit smaller and less convenient to experience. Either way, make your way safely off the route, grab a blanket and relax while watching the sun drop below the mountains. // Blue Ridge Parkway, Afton
Where to hike:
Traveling on the Blue Ridge Parkway isn’t simply about driving. There are over 350 miles of hiking trails along the route, in fact. But whether you’re looking for a tougher hike along the Appalachian Trail or an easy stroll with the family, Humpback Rocks is your place to stop.
Between mile markers 5.8 and 9.3, the area is connected to the Mountain Farm Trail (an easy, quarter-mile trail), Catoctin Trail (a moderate, 3-mile trail) and a 2-mile section of the Appalachian Trail. Depending on which you choose, you can be exposed to the culturally rich history of the Blue Ridge Parkway or get up-close-and-personal with the route’s surrounding natural landscape.
Be sure to check out the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center, too. It features an outdoor farm museum that has a series of antique-style buildings that offer a peek into regional architecture and the historical craftsmanship that took place in the area (basket making, gardening and more). // Between mile markers 5.8 and 9.3 in Rockfish
Where to eat:
Off of the Parkway and just off Highway 664 is Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company, about a half an hour south of Wintergreen Resort, which offers skiing and tubing throughout the winter.
The “basecamp brewpub,” is a worthwhile trip if you’re looking for a pint of beer and a hot plate in a mountain setting, especially if you’re trying to avoid packing it yourself. There are also two options depending on the time of day you plan to visit.
Looking for a hearty breakfast after an early-morning hike? Visit The Summit, where malted waffles and a triple protein omelet can be paired with a cup of coffee, or stop by the Brewpub for sharable brewery snacks such as pulled pork sandwiches and mountain wings, paired alongside lagers, IPAs and other seasonal releases. // Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company: 200 Mosbys Run, Roseland
Where to stay:
There are almost too many places to count in terms of lodging on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here are two options for sleeping inside or roughing it in a tent.
Sugar Tree Inn is a bed and breakfast not far from Lexington, Staunton and Charlottesville that could be the exact in-state staycation you’ve been looking for. Not only does the bed and breakfast have cabin-inspired lodging that makes you feel even cozier, it’s also tucked in the trees to give you the ultimate escape from the busyness of everyday life. // Sugar Tree Inn: 145 Lodge Trail, Vesuvius
Camping is another big draw for visiting the Blue Ridge Parkway, especially if you’re looking for the full outdoor experience during your trip. If you’re looking to take a tent and build a campfire, check out Crabtree Falls Campground, which has waterfront and non-waterfront tent sites, as well as drive-up sites that can be hooked up to electric and water for an additional fee.
The waterfront sites offer a gentle rolling river just a few feet away, with a view near a very steep bank that are roughly 8 to 12 feet above the water. The property also offers access to a bathhouse and general store, which comes stocked with basic camping needs such as marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate (for s’mores, of course), as well as toilet paper, basic necessities and a variety of non-perishable food items. // Crabtree Falls Campground: 11039 Crabtree Falls Highway, Tyro
For more information on the Blue Ridge Parkway, visit blueridgeparkway.org.
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