The Ultimate Guide To Asheville and the Western North Carolina Mountains
The Ultimate Guide to Asheville & the Western North Carolina Mountains

The Online Version of the Best-selling Regional Guidebook

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Linn Cove Viaduct, Blue Ridge Parkway, pen & ink drawing by Lee James Pantas
To purchase a print of this drawing by author/artist Lee Pantas, visit Cherry Orchard Studio 

    The Blue Ridge Parkway is ranked “America’s most scenic drive” by leading travel writers. Following Craggy Gardens, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, pen and ink drawing by Lee James Pantasmountain crests from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee, the Parkway is the gateway to a wondrous Appalachian empire. The Parkway’s 469 toll-free miles of awesome natural beauty combined with the pioneer history of gristmills, weathered cabins and split-rail fences create one of the most popular areas in the national park system. This extraordinary region encompasses a world of mountain forest, wildlife and wildflowers thousands of feet above a patchwork of villages, fields and farms.
    Passing right through Asheville, the Parkway is easily accessible to visitors. Located at Milepost 384 just southeast of
Asheville is the newly constructed Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center. A unique feature about the Parkway is that there are no tolls. Speed limits are set at a leisurely 45 miles per hour, and stops are frequent with more than 250 overlooks on the parkway that offer magnificent uninterrupted views. More than 600 million visitors have traveled the Parkway over the years since it opened in the 1930s.
   A free Parkway trip planning information packet is available by writing to the Blue Ridge Parkway Association, P.O. Box 2136, Asheville, NC 28802. This packet contains maps, the official Park Service Trip map, guides, and other useful information. Much of this information is also available at the parkway website ( A complete list of hiking trails that can be accessed from the Blue Ridge Parkway is presented in Section Two, Chapter 16.

Wild & Furry Animals of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, by Lee James Pantas

   A nonprofit organization, Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway ,continues to work towards the preservation of the environmental heritage of the Parkway. This grass-roots organization welcomesBlue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain in NC memberships in its work to pre-serve and protect the Parkway. Information about Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway can be obtained by calling 800-228-7275 or by writing them at PO Box 20986. Roanoke, VA 24108. Another organization dedicated to preserving the Blue Ridge Parkway is the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. They fund specific programs and projects that further the parkway’s preservations, protection, and enhancement. For further information, call 336-721-0260 or write 717 South Marshall Street, Suite 105B, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.
On Black Balsam Bald, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina    Camping is allowed along the parkway May-October at designated sites, many requiring a small fee that covers the use of a fireplace and table. Winter camping is allowed, weather permitting. Facilities are limited and you will need to check in advance. Copies of campground regulations are available at Parkway Visitor Centers, and are posted at all campgrounds. Campgrounds near Asheville are at Linville Falls (Milepost 316.3; 50 tent, 20 RV sites), Crabtree Meadows (Milepost 339.5; 71 tent, 22 RV sites) and Mount Pisgah (Milepost 408.6; 70 tent, 70 RV sites).

Website: Blue Ridge Parkway
The Parkway begins at Fort Royal, Virginia, and ends in Cherokee, North Carolina. It goes right through the east side of
Asheville, running north to south overall.
Address: 195 Hemphill Knob  Road, Asheville NC 28803
Telephone: Parkway Information: 828-298-0398, 828-259-0701, 828-271-4779
Emergency Parkway Telephone: 800-727-5928
Parkway Headquarters: 828-271-4779
Parkway Entrances:
Visitor Information: 828-271-4779
Fees: None
Resources: Blue Ridge National Heritage Area 195 Hemphill Knob Road, Asheville NC 28803; 828-298-5330
Tips: The Parkway is closed intermittently during the winter due to ice and snow. Peak traffic is during the summer months and especially the autumn leaf season. With a 45-mph speed limit on a winding two-lane road, be prepared for a leisurely trip.
Directions: From Asheville, take I-240 East and get off at Exit 9 (Bat Cave, Blue Ridge Parkway). Take Hwy. 74A East to parkway entrance roads. It is also accessible off of Tunnel Rd. (US 70) near the V.A. Hospital in East Asheville and Brevard Rd. (Hwy. 191) in South Asheville past the Biltmore Square Mall.
The entries that follow are some of the major attractions found on the Parkway within a short drive of Asheville.

Parkway North of Asheville
Milepost 384, Blue Ridge Parkway Headquarters: The Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center is the major exhibit and education center on the parkway.
Milepost 382, Folk Art Center: Located just east of Asheville, the Folk Art Center offers a look at traditional and contemporary crafts of the Appalachian region through interpretive programs, a museum and library.
Milepost 364, Craggy Gardens: Craggy Gardens is an area of exposed rocks and high peaks that provides breathtaking views. Large expanses of native rhododendron cover its slopes and summits. In mid-June, pink and purple blooms of these Catawba rhododendrons are at their peak. This popular stop has restrooms, nature exhibits, and is open May-October. Well-marked trails lead through the rhododendron thickets to Craggy Dome’s awe-inspiring views.
Milepost 355, Mount Mitchell: Mount Mitchell State Park offers tent camping, trails, nature study, picnic area, natural history museum and restaurant. At 6,684 feet above sea level, it is the highest peak in the eastern United States.
Milepost 331, Museum of North Carolina Minerals: Displays of over 300 varieties of minerals found in North Carolina. Open 9-5 daily. 765-2761 or 298-0398.
Milepost 317, Linville Caverns: North Carolina’s only caverns open year-round. Smooth paths takes visitors deep into the innermost recesses of this beautiful underground fairyland. Located on route 221, between Linville and Marion, NC. 
Milepost 316, Linville Gorge: Located off NC 105 in the Pisgah National Forest. Excellent hiking trails that lead to superb views of Linville Falls. Linville Gorge is one of the most spectacular sites in North Carolina.
Milepost 305, Grandfather Mountain: One of North Carolina’s top scenic attractions. Extraordinary views, wildlife habitats, famous Mile High Swinging Bridge, trails, picnic areas, nature museum, restaurant and theatre.
Milepost 304, Linn Cove Viaduct: Linn Cove Viaduct is a spectacular bridge that offers outstanding views and is noteworthy for its elegant and unique construction. Opened in 1987, this engineering marvel represents the final link in the construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Viaduct is the most complicated concrete bridge ever built, snaking around boulder-strewn Linn Cove in a sweeping “S” curve.
Milepost 294, Moses H Cone Memorial Park: This great mountain park has 25 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails, and Flat Top Manor houses the Parkway Craft Center. No fees, and the Craft Center is open from Mid-March to November, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Ranger-guided activities are also available throughout the summer.

Parkway South of Asheville
Milepost 408, Pisgah Inn at Mount Pisgah: Mount Pisgah was part of the original 145,000-acre estate bought in the 1800s by George Vanderbilt. The area is now the Pisgah National Forest. Located on the parkway is the famous Pisgah Inn, a great place to stop for a meal. The inn is open April through Autumn. Their phone number is 828-235-8228. A moderately strenuous hiking trail leads from the Inn to the Mount Pisgah Overlook.
Milepost 412, Cradle of Forestry: Four miles south of the parkway on US 276 is the Cradle of Forestry, a National Historic Site located in the Pisgah National Forest. The Cradle of Forestry was the birthplace of American forestry. Visitors will find forestry exhibits, guided tours, restored historic buildings, craft exhibits and more. 1002 Pisgah Hwy. 884-5713. (SEE Section Five, Chapter 2)
Milepost 419, Graveyard Fields: An unusual flat area that takes its name from the mounds dotting the site, which are remains of fallen trees, victims of a 1925 Thanksgiving Eve fire.



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