What do crisp mountain air, incredible vistas, and winding roads all have in common? There’s one place in America that will give you all three in plentiful abundance: The Blue Ridge Parkway.
We’ve driven the entire road from end to end as well as it’s smaller sister road, Skyline Drive, and are happy to report that everything that has been said about this road is true. It’s a road trip you and your family will never forget. Check out our Road Trip Planner for the Blue Ridge Parkway & Skyline Drive for every thing you’ll ever need to know about planning this epic getaway.
When the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway began in 1935 no one could have guessed that it would capture the hearts of America’s drivers and be included in nearly every list of America’s most scenic roads.
In the years since it’s construction, families have enjoyed the 469 miles of beautiful blacktop as it serenely rolls through the Appalachian Mountains and transports you to another world. We Rambler’s had the pleasure of driving the entire Blue Ridge Parkway from beginning to end and can tell you that it really is worth the trip.
I also highly recommend taking advantage of your location and adding on the additional 105 miles of the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park, as the roads are nearly as beautiful and the drive just as serene. Read ahead for all the information you need to plan your road trip.
Road Trip Planner Blue Ridge Parkway & Skyline Drive – The Route
Due to low speed limits and lots of congestion during the summer time, it’s recommended that you break up your drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway across multiple days. We did it in a total of 3 driving days, you’ll want to add another day or two to that if you want to spend some time hiking or exploring all the viewpoints.
As far as lodging on the Parkway goes you have several options depending on your preferences. The cheapest way is to simply camp along the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are quite a few campsites, and they are pretty affordable. It’s also recommended to reserve in advance during the peak seasons. The other option is to stay in one of the historic properties that are on the actual parkway or do what we did, and stay just outside the National Park. Check out our list of where to stay on the Blue Ridge Parkway at the bottom of the page.
Our road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway started in Cherokee, NC. Located at the Southern entrance of the Smokey Mountain National Park, it’s an excellent little town to start your journey and spend a few days in the Smokies before heading out along the parkway. From Cherokee we made our way to Boone, NC where we spent a few days exploring the area. If you love trains the Tweetsie Railroad is a can’t miss attraction. For the last legs of our trip we stopped off in Roanoke, VA and then finished the Blue Ridge Parkway & Skyline Drive on the last day and ended up in Winchester, VA. The road trip is a bit difficult to route out using most typical road trip planning sites since the parkway is such a winding road with a slow speed limit.
If you use those cities as an anchor though, you can plan it pretty easily if you combine those points with this downloadable Map of the Blue Ridge Parkway: click here.
Road Trip Planner – A Photo Tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway & Skyline Drive
Our tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway & Skyline Drive was absolutely fantastic and definitely worth the time and effort. Even though our drive was plagued with some rain and a persistent fog, the trip was absolutely incredible. We began our morning in Cherokee, NC. After fueling up and heading towards the entrance to Smokey Mountain National Park, we turned off onto the Blue Ridge Parkway and officially began our trip.
From the moment we got on the road we realized why it’s such a road tripper’s dream. Being forced to drive at 35MPH was aggravating at first, but we quickly settled into the speed and realized that it was giving us the opportunity to truly enjoy our surroundings. Even though the day was cloudy, it was still beautiful.
The first day’s drive takes you through the heaviest of the mountain terrain which means you get to go through quite a few tunnels.
The highest point of the road is also located on the stretch between Cherokee, NC and Asheville. It provides some lovely vistas as well as some fascinating looks at the rocks that make up the Blue Ridge Mountains.
We finished up our first leg of the trip in Boone, NC and spent two nights there exploring the town.
We began the second leg of our trip hoping for better weather, but were unfortunately met with more rain and fog. We didn’t let it get us down though since it made lots of the wildlife along the route be a little more active.
There were some interesting historic points along the Blue Ridge Parkway including the Peaks of Otter Lodge Hotel, the Cool Springs Baptist Church, and the point where construction began along the parkway in 1935.
The second leg ended with a stop off in Roanoke, VA where we rested up for the night and then made our way back on the road the next morning to finish up the Blue Ridge Parkway Drive as well as explore Shenandoah National Park along the Skyline Drive. The Northern end of the Parkway leads you to it’s lowest point (649 ft) and is still packed full of lovely stopping points.
After ending the Blue Ridge Parkway, you continue along the same road and seamlessly transition onto Skyline Drive.
The veiws along Skyline Drive is nearly as beautiful as the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s also notable to us as the first place we ever saw a wild bear. He ran across the road, but was too wily to be captured on film. Thankfully, the vistas were easier to capture.
We finished up our Skyline Drive road trip at the end of the park and spent our last evening in Winchester, VA.
Taking a road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive was a wonderful framework to take you through the whole region and really explore the area. Whether you do it with an RV, car, or motorcycle you’ll be certain to enjoy the area.
Road Trip Planner – Gas Along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Finding gas stations on the Blue Ridge Parkway isn’t too difficult, but know that you will have to leave the National Park to fill up since gas stations are not in operation in the National Parks. Here is a list of exits with gas on them.
Virginia Exits for Gas
- US 250 – MP 0, less than 3 miles west
- US 60 – MP 45.6, less than 5 miles west
- US 501 – MP 63.7, less than 2 miles south
- VA 43 – MP 90.9, less than 5 miles north
- US 460 – MP 106, less than 4 miles west
- VA 24 – MP 112.2, less than 2 miles east or west
- US 220 – MP 121.4, less than 5 miles north
- US 58 – MP 177.7, less than 1 mile east
- US 52 – MP 199.4, less than 1 mile north
- VA 89 – MP 215.8, less than 8 miles north
North Carolina Exits for Gas
- US 21 – MP 229.7, less than 8 miles west
- NC 18 – MP 248.1, less than 3 miles west
- NC 16 – MP 261.2, less than 12 miles west
- US 321 – MP 291.8, less than 2 miles north or south
- NC 181 – MP 312, less than 3 miles north
- NC 226 – MP 330.9, less than 3 miles north
- US 70 – MP 382.5, less than 2 miles east or west
- US 74A – MP 384.7, less than 3 miles south
- US 25 – MP 388.8, less than 1 mile south, less than 3 miles north
- NC 191 – MP 393.6, less than 3 miles north
- US 276 – MP 411.8, less than 10 miles north
- US 74/23 – MP 443.1, less than 3 miles east
- US 19 – MP 455.7, less than 3 miles east
Road Trip Resources for the Blue Ridge Parkway & Skyline Drive
You should also check out our list of Road Trip Essentials to make sure you have all the gear you need for a great road trip.
Where to Stay Along the Blue Ridge Parkway & Skyline Drive
Here are the properties we stayed at on our trip along with a couple other choices. Note that they are all pet friendly unless specified.
1593 Acquoni Road
- Free Wi-Fi, Outdoor Pool
- Free Wi-Fi, Indoor Pool, Free Breakfast, No Pet Fee
4468 Starkey Rd.
Roanoke, VA 24018
- Free Wi-Fi, Outdoor Pool, Free Breakfast, Fitness Center
Country Inn & Suites By Carlson
141 Kernstown Commons Blvd
Winchester, VA, 22602
- Free Wi-Fi, Indoor Pool, Fitness Center, Pet Friendly
Hotels on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Mile Marker 408.6 Blue Ridge Parkway
- Located on the BRP Open Apr – Oct, NOT Pet Friendly, Breakfast Incl.
Peaks of Otter Lodge
Mile Marker 86 Blue Ridge Parkway
- Pet Friendly with $25 Fee per pet, Open Seasonally with Limited Winter Dates, Wi-Fi