Blue Ridge Parkway Closure

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Linn Cove Viaduct is a dreamy ride through the clouds!

Blue Ridge Parkway closure at the Linn Cove Viaduct, the most visited and recognized stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway, is scheduled to close for three months beginning March 1 according to the National Park Service. The area, which includes trail areas below the viaduct, will also be off limits to cyclist and hikers. Park officials said the closure is necessary to allow for resurfacing roads and bridge repairs, adding that the seven-mile stretch will reopen in time for Memorial Day weekend. According to reports from various media outlets, crews will replace asphalt pavement, joints and water-proofing membranes on the bridge as well as repairing support structures, curbing, railing and essential drainage features.
Located 18 miles southwest of Blowing Rock, N.C., the viaduct is one of the parkway’s most popular tourist draws and was the last part of the 469-mile road to be completed. Designated a national civil engineering landmark by the America Society of Civil Engineers, the 1,234-foot viaduct, consisting of 153 segments that weigh in at 50 tons each, was built at a cost of some $10 million.
It was a project that almost did not happen. According to accounts, the original plans for that stretch of the roadway included carving out parts of Grandfather Mountain. The plan sparked an immediate and intense opposition, especially by Hugh Morton who had inherited Grandfather Mountain from his own grandfather, Hugh MacRae. Preserving the mountain was a primary focus for Morton (who died in 2006) prompting him to donate easement for some 3,000 acres to the The Nature Conservancy whose focus is preserving land and water worldwide. Additional acres and easement were later sold to the conservancy. A compromise route, negotiated by Gov. Dan Moore, partnered the National Park Service’s landscape architects and Federal Highway Administration engineers who proposed that the road should be elevated wherever possible to eliminate cutting into the historic landscape. According to Park Service officials, the result has been called “the most complicated concrete bridge ever built.” The viaduct’s sweeping ‘S’ curve appears to hover in mid-air offering spectacular mountain and valley views and is often referred to as “a ride in the clouds.”

The Blue Ridge Parkway is the Great Smokies sister park!

Although the viaduct is a direct route to Grandfather Mountain and its state park hiking trails, Frank Ruggerio of the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation was philosophical about the closure. Ruggerio said that he was sad that people will not enjoy the whole high country experience this spring, but agreed that it was a necessary step to make the repairs.
Grandfather Mountain and the state park is still accessible from U.S. 221.

 

Raise a glass; find your pint and support the Blue Ridge Parkway 2018.

Find your pint while exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway. But remember HeySmokies fans – explore responsibly!

Raise a glass; find your pint and support the Blue Ridge Parkway. For the second time in as many years breweries from Asheville to the High Country and Virginia raised funds for the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway and its “Find Your Pint” event. Each brewery, some of which  created special beers to honor the highway and others, who highlighted flagship brews, donated a portion of sales to support the non-profit Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The Blue Ridge Parkway is considered the “sister” national park to the Great Smoky Mountains and a portion of the participating breweries are found in the HeySmokies region. More than 15 million people visited the 469-mile scenic highway last year; a number that exceeds the

The Blue Ridge Parkway via duct is an amazing and beautiful engineering achievement and must be driven to be believed!

combined visitation of Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon National Parks. A Passport Program encourages beer fans to collect Parkway Beer Passport stickers and booklets available at participating breweries. Be sure and set your calendar for 2018 and the 3rd annual find your pint tour!

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue-ridge-parkway-sign-heysmokiesDid you know that the Blue Ridge Parkway is connected to Great Smoky Mountains National Park? That’s right; another National Park is attached to the Smokies! The Blue Ridge Parkway begins (or ends) at milepost 469, a half mile south of the Oconaluftee Visitors Center in North Carolina. The Parkway meanders from there along the mountain tops to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile long scenic drive through the Southern Appalachian highlands. The average speed limit on the Parkway is 45 mph. The Parkway has no red lights or intersections to slow traffic. All access to the Parkway is via on and off ramps connecting to nearby roads. There are no places to purchase fuel on the Parkway so plan carefully.

The Blue Ridge Parkway has access to camping, trails, waterfalls, and historic structures.

Blue Ridge Parkway Campgrounds

Otter Creek @ Mile Post 61 This campground has sites for 45 tents and 24 RV trailers. Facilities currently include water, comfort stations with flush toilets and sinks but no showers or hook-ups. Area hikes include Trail of Trees, Otter Creek, Otter Lake Loop and James River Canal Trails.

Peaks of Otter @ Mile Post 86 This campground has sites for 90 tents and 53 trailers or RVs, water, comfort stations with flush toilets and cold water sinks but no showers or hook-ups. Area hikes include Sharp Top, Elk Run, Harkening Hill and Johnson Farm Trails.

Rocky Knob @ Mile Post 167 This campground has sites for 81 tents and 28 trailer or RVs, restrooms, trailer dumping stations, and a campfire circle that accommodates up to 150 campers. For the more adventurous, backcountry camping is permitted at the designated site in Rock Castle Gorge. A permit is required and can be obtained from the Rocky Knob Campground by calling 540-745-9664 from May-October and calling 540-745-9668 during the off season.

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Blue Ridge Parkway

For those in primitive camping areas, keep in mind the following: camping and campfires are only allowed in designated areas, only dead firewood may be gathered for fuel, pack out all trash, do not use soap or shampoo in any streams, and toilet facilities must be at least 200 feet from water supplies. Area hikes include Rockcastle Gorge, Black Ridge, Rocky Knob Picnic Area and Round Meadow Creek Trails.

Doughton Park @ Mile Post 241 This campground has 110 campsites and 25 trailer sites, 4 comfort stations, and a campfire circle at the campground. Area hikes include Bluff Mountain, and Fodder Stack Trails.

Julian Price Park @ Mile Post 297 This campground has 129 tent sites (2 handicap sites) and 68 trailer sites, 6 comfort stations (1 handicap accessible). Area hikes include Green Knob, Boone Fork, Price Lake, Gwyn Memorial and Tanawha Trails. For boat rental info call 828-963-2292 or visit blueridgeparkway.

Linville Falls @ Mile Post 316 This campground has 50 tent and 20 RV sites which sit on the banks of the Linville River. It is the Parkway’s smallest, most popular campground and the only developed site on the Parkway that allows group camping. Area hikes include Flat Rock, Camp Creek, River Bend, Duggers Creek, and Linville River Bridge Trails

Mt. Pisgah @ Mile Post 408 This campground has 70 tent and 70 RV sites and shower facilities are available. The campground is the highest, coolest and most secluded on the Parkway. The campground is located in Flat Laurel Gap. Area hikes include Buck Spring, Mount Pisgah, Picnic Area Loop and Frying Pan Mountain Trails.

Camping is $16 for each site. Reservations for ALL campgrounds can be made online at recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777.

Blue Ridge Parkway Hiking

There are numerous trails suitable for hiking along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Find out about trails near you by stopping at a Ranger Station or Visitor Center for information. Trail conditions may change suddenly and unexpectedly. Bear activity, rain or thunder storms and downed trees may temporarily close trails.

At a minimum be sure to carry water, a raincoat or poncho, a warm hat, insect repellent, sunscreen, and a first aid kit. It is recommended that you hike with another person. No permit is required for hiking.

One of the most daunting tasks facing hikers is choosing a trail. Start by deciding on what you would like to see. Waterfalls? Old-growth forests? Endless views? Then decide how far you would like to hike. It can be as easy as that!

There are over 369 miles of trails to choose from along the Blue Ridge Parkway! The Appalachian Trail and Mountains-to-Sea Trail are two long distance trails that follow closely with stretches of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Sections of these trails can be hiked in a day, or for the more adventurous, over a number of days.

Blue Ridge Parkway Waterfall Hikes

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Crabtree Falls at Mile Post 339

Remember to always take caution while enjoying waterfalls around the Parkway. Do not climb on rocks near waterfalls and use extreme caution when walking along riverbanks. The rocks are slippery due to mist and algae. Never dive or jump into the water. Submerged rocks, trees or debris could be immediately below the surface of the water.

Here is a list of popular hikes with waterfalls along the Parkway:

Linville Falls @ Mile Post 360 Linville Falls has four different overlooks to properly appreciate the falls with two main hiking trails. Both begin at the Linville Falls Visitor Center and pass through remnants of a virgin hemlock forest mixed with other familiar tree species such as white pine, oaks, hickory, and birch. A colorful and varied display of wildflowers decorates the trails in spring. Red and golden leaves in fall beautifully contrast with the soothing green of hemlocks. The Linville Falls trails range in difficulty from moderate to strenuous.

Looking Glass Falls @ Mile Post 411 Looking Glass Falls is one of the most symmetrical waterfalls in western North Carolina. The name comes from Looking Glass Rock which resembles a wintertime mirror, or “looking glass,” of sunlight as water freezes on its side and reflects the sun.

Crabtree Falls @ Mile Post 339 At the base of the 2.5 mile loop trail is spectacular Crabtree Falls, where water cascades over a 60-foot rock cliff. Many types of ferns and wildflowers thrive in the hollow benefiting from the fall’s cool spray. Originally, these falls were known as Murphy’s Falls. The National Park Service changed the name to Crabtree Falls when the Parkway was built in the 1930’s.

Graveyard Fields Falls @ Mile Post 419 The name “Graveyard Fields” originates from a time when a great windstorm felled hundreds of spruce and fir trees in the area. The moss covered stumps resemble graves.

Skinny Dip Falls @ Mile Post 417  Skinny Dip Falls features a swimming hole at the bottom of the cascades. These falls lie along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Falling Water Cascades @ Mile Post 83 Near Peaks of Otter, the trail is lined with rhododendrons creating a beautiful hike setting.

Apple Orchard Falls @ Mile Post 78 These falls have a viewing platform directly underneath the falls creating a refreshing shower during the summer months.

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Be mindful of your picnic supplies or may have an unexpected guest!

The Blue Ridge Parkway has something for everyone. Here at HeySmokies we love to pack a picnic basket and drive until we find a beautiful spot for lunch. Critters love your “pickanick” basket, so please be extra careful with your picnic supplies! Be mindful with your picnic basket or you may have some unexpected guests!

Blue Ghost Fireflies Near Asheville

Blue ghost fireflies

Blue Ghost Fireflies of North Carolina. Photo credit – CFAIA

Blue Ghost Fireflies Near Asheville just minutes off the Smoky Mountains sister national park, the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Blue Ghost Fireflies cast an eerie spell in the mountains south of Asheville, N.C. in late May.

It is a naturally occurring phenomenon that attracts hundreds of visitors each year. Unlike other fireflies which flash an off and on yellow signal to attract a mate, the Ghost Firefly, indigenous to the region, hovers close to the ground and illuminates the forest floor with an ethereal blue glow.

This natural attraction lures hundreds of visitors to the Blue Ridge each year. Last year, anticipating an additional

Pink Beds Blue Ghost Fireflies. Photo Credit - Jonathan Farber

Pink Beds Blue Ghost Fireflies. Phot Credit – Jonathan Farber

surge of interest in the event, the Pisgah Field School launched a program entitled “In Search of the Blue Ghost” and offered nighttime tours during late May and early June. The School, an educational division of the Cradle of Forestry Interpretive Association, which also manages the Cradle of Forestry in America Heritage Site in the Pisgah National Forest, continues the nocturnal treks again this year and has upped the number of visitors to 100 per night.
Tours fill quickly and if you would like to attend we suggest that you make your reservations now. For more info, or to make reservations, visit www.PisgahFieldSchool.org.

While in the area be sure to visit the Cradle of Forestry, (located in the heart of the Southern Appalachian Mountains near Brevard and Asheville, N.C.) the birthplace of science-based forestry management and a living legacy of George and Edith Vanderbilt, famed owners of “America’s Castle” Biltmore House in Ashville.

The Biltmore School of Forestry, the first school of its kind in North America and dubbed institute of “practical forestry,” was founded by Carl A. Schenck in 1898. Once part of the massive Biltmore estate the land was acquired by the National Forest Service when Biltmore’s widow sold some 87,500 acres in 1914. Nestled in the mountainous valley known as “The Pink Beds,” the land became part of the Pisgah National Forest in Transylvania County and in 1968 Congress earmarked 6,500 acres as a National Historic Site in order to “preserve develop and make available to this and future generations.”

Open mid-April to November, the site provides information on past, present and future environmental sustainability practices through interpretive trails, films, music, drama, guided tours, interactive exhibits and other special events. Guided trails lead to historical buildings, a 1915 Climax logging locomotive and a vintage sawmill.
The Cradle of Forestry, located within Pisgah National Forest, can be accessed from Hwy. 276 North, just 4 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway at Mile Marker 412 and 3.5 miles from Sliding Rock.

Smoky Mountain Region Travel Advisories

Smoky Mountain travel advisorySmoky Mountain Region Travel Advisories. Upcoming Single-Lane Closure on Southbound Spur between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will temporarily close a single land on the southbound Spur between the Flat Branch intersection and the Gatlinburg Welcome Center Tuesday, June 26 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The closure of the right-hand lane is necessary to make repairs to the guard rail. The roadway will remain open, but motorists should expect delays with the single-lane closure.

Visitors can also expect delays when traveling from Asheville N.C. to Cherokee N.C. along Blue Ridge Parkway. Work underway to repave a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Asheville and Cherokee N.C. will cause lane closures and traffic delays, according to a spokesperson for the project.

Currently the “pavement Preservation” project, which began June 18, is between Mileposts 393 and Milepost 413. The total project will involve more than 65 miles between Milepost 359 to where the well-traveled road ends at Milepost 469 in Cherokee. Expect single lane closures, flaggers and traffic delays during the paving project which is expected to last until mid-to late-July. The $4 million project, funded through the Federal Highway Administration, is an effort to upgrade the scenic road which draws some 16.1 million visitors a year and was originally constructed more than 80 years ago.

In a related issue a landslide closed a portion N.C. Highway 9.
North Carolina state transportation officials say it will take until the end of July to clear the massive landslide which closed part of N.C. Highway 9. The N.C. Department of Transportation said that more than 110,000 cubic yards of dirt and rock slid into the road on June 5 and indicated that the target date to reopen the road is July 27. The slide, located about a mile north of U.S. 74-A near the Buncombe-Henderson County lines, covers only about 100 feet of roadway but has created a 50-mile detour. An NCDOT spokesman says that workers are on-site and working from sunrise to sunset daily.