Route: Blue Ridge Parkway
Type: Out and Back or Point to Point
Begin: Oconaluftee, TN
End: Biltmore Forest, NC
Travel Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Distance: 80 miles
Highlights: Majestic mountain roads, twisties, scenic vistas, Biltmore Estate, Waterrock Knob, fall colors, tunnels
The Blue Ridge Parkway got its name from the Blue Ridge Mountains which shadow the road nearly from beginning to end. The Parkway extends 469 miles from Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Oconaluftee/Cherokee, NC all the way to Shenandoah National Park in Afton/Rockfish Gap, VA.
The route we outlined begins just south of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center where US-441 intersects with the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Cherokee, NC. It ends in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina just south of the Biltmore Estate, only 80 miles from the starting point.
The ride from Oconaluftee to Asheville only takes about 2 hours and 10 minutes for a non-stop trip. Of course, you will need to allow for any stops you make along the way.
If you are enjoying the ride and have the time, continue on for as long as you want. You may turn around at any point for the return trip.
Hendersonville Road is the exit we have chosen for the turnaround since there are plenty of places to eat, shop, top off, etc. If you get started early enough, you may want to tour the Biltmore Estate.
Biltmore is the largest private residence in America and was built by George Vanderbilt II, completed in 1895. It is still owned by the Vanderbilt heirs. If you have never seen it, it is worth the visit.
Construction on the Blue Ridge Parkway began on September 11, 1935 during the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, but was not officially established until June 30, 1936.
The purpose was to connect the Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Fifty-two years later, in 1987, the final stretch was completed and opened in Grandfather Mountain making this the longest linear park in America.
Blue Ridge Parkway Tunnel
The Blue Ridge Parkway is synonymous with “America’s Favorite Drive.” My challenge here is to adequately communicate why America loves the Blue Ridge Parkway, and why you will too. Having said that, overstating the magnificence of this drive is just not possible.
The street itself is a narrow two-lane road winding through the mountains. Part of the charm of the Blue Ridge Parkway is the nearness of the vegetation and rock formations to the road itself.
In some sections, the drive has the feeling of a mountain hike, but on pavement. Grass grows right to the edge of the road. There are many turnouts where you can stop and take in the vistas.
Since the Parkway is owned and maintained by the National Park Service, there are no gas stations, food, restrooms, or traffic lights. Top off before heading out and make sure your belly is full.
In addition, the Parkway is closed to commercial vehicles.
The best time to explore the Blue Ridge Parkway is from spring to autumn. Roads are not maintained in the winter, so it is a good idea to call ahead of time for road closure information by phoning (828) 298-0398, day or night, 24/7.
Many visitors consider late September to mid October to be the best driving dates due to the exquisite fall colors of the leaves. Spring rides are good for the cool weather.
Whether you choose to ride in spring, summer, fall, or winter, you will enjoy the amazing views.
Google Map | Blue Ridge Parkway