Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks

Are you planning to check out the best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks?  I have the guide for you!

Weaving roads filled with lush greenery and blue mountain views at every turn is just the start to the magical experience of exploring the best Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks!  

But what the heck is Blue Ridge Parkway… you want me to visit a parkway?  Uhm. YES.  Sponsored through the national park service, Blue Ridge Parkway was officially established in 1936 as a leisure drive.  It provides visitors of all ability levels an opportunity to explore stunning mountain views with limitless paved overlooks.  Hikers of all skill levels will also find a surplus of Blue Ridge trail options.  

Beginning at Great Smoky Mountain National Park in North Carolina, Blue Ridge Parkway runs 469 miles all the way through Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.  It can be accessed only 40 minutes outside of Asheville, North Carolina making an ideal road trip.  

Blue Ridge Parkway has no entrance fee, is open 24 hours a day 7 days a year, and all commercial vehicles are welcome.  There are no gas stations on the drive, so plan your trip accordingly.

Blue Ridge Parkway Details

Location: Begins in Great Smoky National Park, North Carolina, and ends in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.   There are several access points including 40 minutes outside of Asheville, North Carolina.  Visiting Blue Ridge Parkway is popular to do on a combined Asheville road trip, or combined Smoky Mountain or Shenandoah  road trip. 

When to visit:  The Blue Ridge Mountains truly look majestic any time of year, but fall is perhaps its most popular season, with stunning views of foliage atop mountains for miles on end.  Spring and the start of summer bring wildflower bloom, another unforgettable time.  Rain is common this time of year so time outdoors may need to be planned accordingly.  Winter with snow-capped blue ridge mountains is low season with less crowds on Blue Ridge Parkway. 

How many days: While many travelers visit Blue Ridge Parkway on a combined road trip,  you can absolutely check out the best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks on a day trip if you plan in advance. 

Parking: There is limitless pull-out parking at the best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks.  Pack your bags and a picnic- you’ll want to be here for a while!

Hiking Blue Ridge Parkway

Black Balsam Knob Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway

If you prefer to get your views after a hike, here are so many amazing Blue Ridge Parkway trails to choose from!  Roads are seasonally closed for maintenance so be sure to check the National Park Service Website and AllTrails prior to leaving for your hike.  

Black Balsam Knob Trail, Blueu Ridge Parkway

Black Balsam Knob

Length: 1.5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Black Balsam Knob via Artloeb Trail is rated between moderate due to its distance and 347ft elevation gain.  This Blue Ridge Parkway hike is beautiful because views are experienced from all parts of the hike, from start to finish.  

This was one of my favorite hikes on my trip to Blue Ridge Parkway and I highly recommend it!  Reference AllTrails as a resource to determine where you want to begin your hike, learn about trail closures, and read reviews from hikers who have completed Black Balsam Trail at Blue Ridge Parkway recently.  

Craggy Gardens Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway

Craggy Gardens Trail

Length: 1.9 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Craggy Gardens Trail is a very popular hike along Blue Ridge Parkway.  Aside from its 774ft elevation gain, visitors consider this a generally easy route.  It is a heavily trafficked out and aback route.  

Reference AllTrails as a resource to determine where you want to begin your hike, learn about trail closures, and read reviews from hikers who have completed Craggy Gardens Trail at Blue Ridge Parkway recently.  

Devil’s Courthouse Hike, Blue Ridge Parkway

Devil’s Courthouse

Length: .8 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Visitors consider this trail between easy and moderate.  Its short distance brings the overall hike time to about 30 minutes.  At 574ft elevation, it lines up similarly with other hikes labeled as Moderate on AllTrails.  

Blue Ridge Parkway Drive-Up Overlooks

Blue Ridge Parkway 1
Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville

EVERY pull out stop along the drive, as well as the drive itself, has immaculate overlooks.  I wouldn’t worry too much about planning your specific stops, and just enjoy the views and pull out at stops as you feel are best.  

 

What you more specifically need to plan in advance is hiking views, in order to arrive at an optimal time of day to complete a hike, ensure there is parking, etc.  The views listed here are just a handful that you can expect to pass if looking for the best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks from North Carolina.  

Cradle of Forestry

Cradle of Forestry on Blue Ridge Parkway

Hominy Valley

Hominy Valley on Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway Guided Activities

Visitors looking for the best Blue Ridge Parkway Views can do so with a guide.  If you are not comfortable completing a hike or run on your own, consider joining a guided hiking, running, or waterfall tour along Blue Ridge Parkway.  

Where to stay near Blue Ridge Parkway

There are a variety of hotels, campgrounds, and cabins in the surrounding area of Blue Ridge Parkway.  Visitors of all travel styles will have theier choice from luxury accommodation to budget hotel to tent camping.  

Blue Ridge Parkway Camping

There are eight campgrounds through the National Park Service located on Blue Ridge Parkway.  These eight campgrounds are open seasonally.  Near Asheville, visitors can camp at Mount Pisgah Campground.  Receiving a permit in advance is required for backcountry camping on Blue Ridge Parkway.  Camping without a permit or in an established campground is not allowed.  

The only two campgrounds near Asheville with shower service are Mount Pisgah and Price Campground.  All campgrounds are equipped with bathrooms, drinking water, grills, and picnic tables.  Private campgrounds around Blue Ridge Parkway are open year-round.  No RV hookups at these campgrounds.  

Private campgrounds along Blue Ridge Parkway open year-round include: Asheville East KOA, Asheville West KOA, Bear Creek RV Park, Bear Den RV Resort.  

Other thing to do near Blue Ridge Parkway

Double D’s Coffee in Downtown, Asheville

If you have a weekend in Asheville and are looking for other things to do after exploring the best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks, consider exploring local shops, the River Arts District, and trying some delicious food.  There is so much to do and explore in Asheville, you can easily combine your Blue Ridge Parkway trip for longer. 

Blue Ridge Parkway Packing List

Here are a couple of can’t-miss items to toss in your suitcase when completing Bryce Canyon in one day.  

Trail Shoes– I cannot stress the importance of comfortable shoes with strong traction.  Be good to your feet!  

First Aid Kit– Safety first.  Never know when you’ll need a first aid kit!  Always be prepared on the trails.  Band-aids, gauze wrap, motion sickness medication, etc.  

Water Bottle– Hydration, hydration, hydration!  I recommend at least a gallon of water per person for a full hiking day.  

Hydration backpack– Consider packing your water into a hydration backpack like a Camelback or similar.  I have found this much less strenuous on my back, and there are still enough side pockets to hold your camera, snacks, and a sandwich.

Packable Backpack– Alternative to a Camelback.  Packable backpacks are GREAT because you can roll them up and throw them into a suitcase or carry-on bag, and they take up LITERALLY no room at all.  They provide an ample amount of room for one day of adventures.

 

For the chilly weather…

Base layers– Wear warm clothing under your jacket and pants.  Alternatively, consider fleece-lined leggings with a water-resistant exterior.

Puffer jacket– I prefer a puffer jacket to a long parka because this is also packable, and easy to roll up into your backpack if you get hot.

Rain shell– Wear this over your puffer jacket to make sure you stay dry if it snows.  The best part is these are lightweight and packable!  Weather fluctuates, but your comfort shouldn’t.  

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Alyssa

As a full time employee who loves her job, learn how I honor my wanderlust while working a 9:00-5:00 (because I want to!) This blog welcomes all, and specifically provides resources for those seeking travel intertwined into a busy schedule (3 days to 5 weeks).