Driving in America has long been a family past-time for many years. Route 66 began the legends of many great road trips. Jack Kerouac wrote about an entire generation who traveled the great wilds of America, on the road. So its no surprise that to joy ride on a Sunday, is something we’ve all done before.
I’ve traveled all over the United States, in search of these great routes, across this vast and beautiful country. Each route having a life of its own that creates its own personality and flavor, by mixing in the right mixture of culture, geography and its people. One such road that stands out in particular is the Blue ridge parkway. After having traveled extensively on its long and winding roads, you’ll understand why its one of the most traveled, and widely know of all road trips in America.
Starting at its most southern point, brings you to one of the greatest national parks of all, great Smokey mountains. Known for its majestic peaks and beautiful scenery, it is also home to the largest mountain on the eastern side of the United States. Within the park are numerous campgrounds and lodgings, as well as plentiful activities, such as horseback riding and fishing. Nearby the start of the parkway also, is Cherokee. A tourist town with many amenities and plenty of fun for the whole family, from the casino to mini golf, Cherokee and great Smokey mountains national park will fill several days of fun.
In between these two wonderful places is the gateway to The Blue ridge parkway. Nature and wildlife abound everywhere. Trees are everywhere within the park, including many rare species of trees and plants. Tulips, serviceberry, dogwood, sourwood, sassafras, maples, hemlock, spruce and fir, are a few of the many species of plants and trees that call these forests home.
As you travel past these beautiful forests and ridges, you may want to stop for pictures, a picnic lunch and a hike. All can be done on the plentiful turnoffs and scenic overlooks along the way. Heintooga ridge spur road goes to a mile high overlook. Waterrock knob provides a perfect spot for a lunch and the kids to run around. The ranger station their has a comfort station and exhibits to fill some time out of the car.
If you like hikes, further up the road are several easy trails, that are just a few miles long, perfect for the kids or a couple out for a romantic walk. Richland balsam’s self guiding trail takes you through a remnant spruce-fir forest and is the highest point on the parkway at 6047 feet. Up further is Devils courthouse. Steeped in Cherokee tradition, its bare rock summit yields an incredible view of Pisgah national forest.
Nearly 70 miles from Cherokee, Asheville is the next city along the way. Before you reach it, you come across Mt. Pisgah. This beautiful place was once part of the vast Baltimore estate. The estate eventually became the first forestry school in America, and today is the center of the Pisgah national forest. Asheville is home of the Biltmore estate, the largest home in America at one time, now is a museum that offers tours for a fee. Asheville has all the conveniences of a modern city, and is a great stop for the night onto the rest of the parkway, or a good connection to the interstates for a quick jump home, or to other destinations.
The blue ridge parkway is great as a long trip or short day excursion, however you may decide to drive it. In the spring or fall are its most beautiful seasons, with stunning spring flowers of many colors and variety’s, and gorgeous fall foliage that takes your breath away.