Thursday, January 3, 2013

Blue Ridge Parkway Facts

View from Waterrock Knob looking down to Maggie Valley

My goal for 2013 is to take more trips around western NC. I have lived here most of my life, yet I feel like I’ve explored so little of the area. I haven’t even seen the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi and it is only a little over an hour from my house. I have come to realize that I need to get out more.   

Today I started my goal and went to the Visitor Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I watched a short movie about the road that is 5mi from my house. I learned a lot of miscellaneous facts that I would never use, except for the fact that I have a blog and all of my readers will be forced to learn what I have learned today... 

According to a newspaper article I found online:  

More than 65 per cent of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia will have been completed or be in various stages of construction in 1940. Marion Progress April 11, 1940

Construction on the Parkway started September 11, 1935 and took 52 years to finish. It’s amazing that within 5 years nearly 300mi of the Blue Ridge Parkway was completed. There are over 26 tunnels, many bridges, 200 parking areas, and the road ascends to over 6,000ft. It was such a huge construction project for a road that is not even open to commercial traffic. The main goal was for the government to give people jobs during the Great Depression.

Stanley Abbott, the landscape architect for thee Parkway, used to following guidelines in the construction:
1.    Lie easily on the ground
2.    Blend harmoniously with the topography
3.    Appear as if it had grown out of the soil

I especially like the last one.

The section of the Parkway I use the most is the Waterrock Knob trail (Yes, Waterrock is one word). The trail is only 1.2mi and takes me about 35min to hike to the top of the knob, but I walk slow and take pictures of all the garter snakes I see :) There is a wrecked Cessna on one of the side trails, but there are no signs telling people where it is. The parking area is a perfect place to watch sunsets and meteor showers. Tourists ask me a lot of times about places to hike and I tell them to go to Waterrock Knob because it is only a 10min drive from the restaurant. One young out-of-shape couple came back after their walk and told me that it was the hardest trail they had ever hiked. I felt sorry for them because they must get out less than I do.    


  1. I like the visitor center and their green roof. It's really neat. Have you been to the new visitor center at the Homestead in Cherokee? They have a nice little museum.

    1. I love the green roof idea. I haven't been in the new visitor center, but it is on my list to visit.