Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Blue Ridge Parkway - Final Thoughts

Once I got to the Smokey Mountains, the road to Clingman's Dome was closed because of roadwork and The Tail of the Dragon was only allowing one way traffic because of a rockslide. So there were two more of the places I wanted to get to that I was unable to.

In the end, I ended up eating in Pigeon Forge and then decided to just head home. I tried getting a room once on the way up, but not having reservations and it being a holiday weekend, they were full. I stopped at the first rest area in Kentucky, put my feet up and slept for 8 hours. The next morning I ate breakfast and drove home. I had a few more days left on my vacation but just wasn't having a good enough time to justify staying in the area.

My trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway was a mixed bag. When I got back and people asked how it was my response was, "I can't say it was the worst trip I was ever on, but it was close." For some reason, what I'd hoped to experience on the trip never really materialized. The drive was broken up in by numerous stops, and although there were nice viewpoints, I feel I stopped too often.

There is a large difference between the maintainance of the Parkway and it's facilities. The roadway itself was well maintained. I saw roadwork almost everyday. Resurfacing and trimming the grass were common. Where there wasn't roadwork, there were signs that it had recently been done in the form of freshly cut grass and new blacktop.

The facilities are a different matter. They look like something out of the '50s and don't look as if they've been attended to since they were built. The campground I stayed at was okay, but the private/state ones were much nicer. Many of the turnouts probably would have stunning views, but trees and brush have grown up so much that viewing anything other than them becomes difficult, if not impossible. For example, the view of the cabin in the valley that was all that was left of the community destroyed by the landslides could only be seen by standing on the stone wall the keeps people from falling over the edge. This isn't safe nor should it be necessary to do it.

I went the week before Memorial Day for various reasons. If you're going to make this trip, I suggest you check your schedule. Some things do not open until the Memorial Day weekend and I was unable to visit some of the places I wanted to because I was there a week early.

The trip wasn't all bad and I'd probably do it again sometime, but not in the forseeable future. There are other things I want to do and other places I want to see.


  1. If you come back Christopher, try coming into Viriginia. Our Floyd County, VA portion of the parkway is well maintained and beautiful. Save time to visit the city of Floyd which is part of the Crooked Road music venue. I don't think you will be disappointed. Hope you give it another try.