Meandering 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park in the northern Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, the Parkway follows the Appalachian Mountains and boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.
A hundred species of trees, a variety of flowering shrubs and wildflowers as well 54 different mammals and 59 species of birds live along the Parkway - more than the entire European continent!
Skyline Drive connects to the northernmost section of the Parkway, winding along the crest of the mountains from Waynesboro northward 105 miles to Front Royal.
Developed sites along the Parkway make it easy to stop, park, stretch, visit restrooms and exhibits, hike and get a bite to eat. Lodging and campgrounds are available with opportunities to fish and view wildlife.
Humpback Rocks - See old Appalachian farm buildings of the 19th century at the Mountain Farm Exhibit. During summer months, enjoy living history demonstrations. The Humpback Rocks Visitors Center features exhibits on housing, community, transportation and entertainment of the region.
Milepost 34.4 - The Yankee Horse Ridge Parking Area features narrow gauge railroad track once known as the Irish Creek Railway. See an exhibit on logging, too.
Milepost 63.6 - James River Visitor Center features an exhibit on the James River and Kanawha Canal, which was once a primary commercial route. A trail takes you to a restored lock dating from the mid-19th century.
Milepost 85.9 - Peaks of Otter - The Johnson farm is a living history farm during the summer. The Polly Woods Ordinary served as a lodging establishment for travelers in the early 1830s. Both are two structures reminiscent of a bygone era.
Milepost 120.4 - Enjoy a 3.7-mile side trip to Roanoke Mountain. Roanoke is where the Great Wagon Road branched south into North Carolina and west.
Milepost 154 - The Trail Cabin, circa 19th-century, represents the isolation of mountain residents. The location has been described as spectacular!
Milepost 176.2 - Mabry Mill is not to be missed. Explore the mill, a blacksmith shop, wheelwright's and a whiskey still. Demonstrations take place spring through fall.
Milepost 189 - The Puckett Cabin, also 19th-century, was the home of Mrs. Orleana.
Milepost 213 - The Blue Ridge Music Center features an amphitheater, where a Summer Concert Series is featured each Saturday evening June through September.
Campgrounds and Lodging
Campgrounds are open from May to October and are maintained and supervised by National Park Rangers. They are primitive sites without hookups, but each is equipped with restrooms, drinking water, picnic tables and grills. Sanitary dump stations are available, too. Campsites cannot be reserved, but please make reservations if you're staying in a lodge. Lodges are open year 'round.
Milepost 16 - Sherando Lake in George Washington National Forest is about 4.5 miles off the Parkway on Highway 814.
Milepost 60.8 - Otter Creek Campground provides 45 tent and 24 trailer sites, restrooms, water, and a campfire circle. Many of the campsites are along the banks of Otter Creek. The James River Visitors Center is a 3.5-mile hike on the Otter Creek Trail.
Milepost 86 - Peaks of Otter Campground offers campsites and non-electrical RV sites. Within walking distance of the Abbott Lake and Peaks of Otter.
Milepost 85.6 - The Peaks of Otter Lodge is open year 'round. It has 62 rooms and a 24-acre lake for fishing! Amenities include a gas station, restaurant, gift shop and picnic area. Bus rides to the Sharp Top Summit are available from the Visitors Center. Sharp Top Summit is the northernmost boundary of the Cherokee Nation. The area has a gas station, 62-table picnic area, campstore and 141 campsites with 53 RV/trailer sites.
Milepost 161 - Rocky Knob Campground features 81 tent and 28 trailer sites, restrooms and a dump station for RV's with a campfire circle that accommodates up to 150 campers. The picnic area consists of 72 tables, restrooms, phone and picnic shelter. Route 758 is accessed on the West Side of the Parkway and leads to the Rocky Knob Housekeeping Cabins one mile away.
Milepost 176 - Spectacular views, mountain-top chalets, elegant dining, conference facilities, and a wide array of recreational activities await you at Primland Resort. Fish, hunt, ATV, golf and so much more all while staying in an elegant resort.
The following hiking trails include only those that are about a mile or longer. Other easy to moderate "leg stretching" loops can be found all along the Parkway, especially to points of interest.
- Milepost 6 - From Humpback Gap parking lot to Humpback Mountain hike part of the Appalachian Trail = 2 miles; strenuous
- Milepost 18.5 - 20 - White Rock Falls Trail follows a stream to small falls = 2.9 miles; moderate
- Milepost 60.8 - Otter Creek Trail begins at Otter Creek Campground = 3.5 miles; moderate
- Milepost 63.1 - Otter Lake Trail goes around Otter Lake = .8 mile; moderate
- Milepost 78.4 - Apple Orchard Falls Trail = 1.2 miles; strenuous
- Milepost 83.1 - Fallingwater Cascades Trail - a National Recreation Trail = 1.6 miles; moderate
- Milepost 83.5 - Flat Top Trail leads to highest of three prominent peaks = 4.4 miles; moderate
- Milepost 85.7 - Abbott Lake Trail loops around Abbott Lake = 1 mile; easy
- Milepost 85.9 - Elk Run Trail is a self-guided nature loop from Peaks of Otter Visitors Center = .8 mile; easy
- Milepost 85.9 - Johnson Farm Loop Trail from Peaks of Otter = 2.1 miles; moderate
- Milepost 85.9 - Harkening Hill Trail from Peaks of Otter = 3.3 miles; moderate
- Milepost 86 - Sharp Top Trail from the camp store to the summit of Sharp Top Mountain = 1.5 miles; strenuous
- Milepost 91-95.9 - Appalachian Trail to various overlooks = moderate
- Milepost 96 - Spec Mines Trail is a U.S. Forest Service trail = 2.8 miles; strenuous
- Milepost 97 - Appalachian Trail to Blackhorse Gap = .8 mile; moderate
- Milepost 121.4 - Roanoke Valley Horse Trail parallels Parkway = 18.5 miles; moderate
- Milepost 154.5. - Smart View Loop Trail around the picnic area = 2.6 miles; moderate
- Milepost 167.1 - Rock Castle Gorge Trail = 10.8 miles; strenuous
- Milepost 167.1 - Hardwood Cove Nature Trail = .8 mile; moderate
- Milepost 169 - Black Ridge Trail from the Rocky Knob Visitors Center = 3.1 miles; moderate
- Milepost 169 - Rocky Knob Picnic Loop Trail = 1 mile; easy
- Milepost 176.2 - Mabry Mill's Mountain Industry Trail = .5 mile; easy
Fishing and Swimming
A state fishing license is required and creel limits are enforced. Please inquire at Visitor Centers or Ranger Stations along the Parkway.
Milepost 16 - Sherando Lake is a recreation/camping area in the George Washington National Forest. Swimming facilities include a sandy beach, a shaded grass area and a bathhouse with warm showers.
Milepost 58-63.6 - Otter Creek runs 10 miles down the Blue Ridge to the James River, and Otter Lake is accessible from the Otter Creek Campground. Fishing only.
Milepost 71 - Petites Gap to Cave Mountain Lake, seven miles off the Parkway in Jefferson National Forest, is ideal for swimming and fishing.
Milepost 84-87 - Peaks of Otter Lodge features a 24-acre lake stocked with smallmouth bass, catfish, golden shiners, sunfish and blue gill.
- Milepost 0 - Rockfish Gap leads north to Skyline Drive in Shenandoah.
- Milepost 5-9.3 - Humpback Rocks features Appalachian cultural sites, hiking, access to Sherando.
- Milepost 58-63.6 - Otter Creek and James River for Appalachian cultural sites, hiking, campground, picnic.
- Milepost 86 - Peaks of Otter features Appalachian cultural sites, a Visitors Center, gas station, camp store, picnic area, campground, hiking and fishing.
- Milepost 154.5 - Smart View for picnics and hiking.
- Milepost 169 - Rocky Knob features a Visitors Center, gift shop, cabins and campground.
- Milepost 176.1 - Mabry Mill features Appalachian culture, gift shop, restaurant and hiking.
- Milepost 210 - Blue Ridge Music Center for Appalachian culture and outdoor amphitheater.
Just Off the Parkway
In case your trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway requires replenishment, visit one of the communities just a hop, skip and a jump away.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a Virginia Green attraction!
Last Updated: 12/14/2016