Must Drive: The Blue Ridge Parkway connects 2 national parks

The best of America's most famous scenic byway

  • 29
  • 25:11
  • 995 mi
  • $168
Take This Trip

Created by Fink - September 18th 2019

The Blue Ridge Parkway isn't technically a National Park, but it might as well be. It connects two National Parks (Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains) together and the parkway itself is the most visited unit controlled by the National Parks System. Each year, more people drive along its roads than visit the Grand Canyon. True fact. People flock to it with good reason,'s pretty gorgeous. Plus, there's tons to see and do along the way. Here's a few highlights to see along the way.

Skyline Drive, Luray, VA, US

Skyline Drive

Whether you're starting or ending the trip in Shenandoah, the park's Skyline Drive is one of the most unforgettably epic parts of the trip.

2mi 00h 06m

Front Royal, VA, US


The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles of pure beauty. It all begins in Front Royal, Virginia, and runs all the way down to Cherokee, North Carolina.

6mi 00h 15m
Photo of Dickey Ridge Visitors Center

Skyline Dr., Front Royal, VA, US

Dickey Ridge Visitors Center


While you're in Front Royal, stop by the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center and head out on a hike across from the Parkway. You can visit Fox Hollow and Snead Farm, and you'll pass by an historic graveyard. It's a great way to immerse yourself in the local area's history.

32mi 00h 40m
Photo of Shenandoah National Park

3655 Hwy 211 East, Luray, VA, US

Shenandoah National Park


75 miles outside Washington D.C., the pristine 200,000 miles of Shenandoah National Park wait to be explored! Shenandoah National Park offers 500 miles of trails within the park, plus dense forests, ancient caves, swooping mountains, misty waterfalls... need I go on?

7mi 00h 09m
Photo of Luray Caverns

101 Cave Hill Rd, Luray, VA, US

Luray Caverns


Take your Blue Ridge Parkway adventure underground at Luray Caverns. You can rock out to their one-of-a-kind stalacpipe organ, and make sure to toss some money into their wishing well and make a wish. You'll get instant good vibes once you find out that all the change tossed into the well goes to charity!

17mi 00h 23m

Sperryville, VA, US


Then you'll come to Sperryville, an historic river town along the Thornton River. It was founded in the early 19th century and is currently listed on the Virginia Landmarks Registry and National Registry of Historic Places. The town is located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here, you'll find another access point for Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive.

27mi 00h 47m
Photo of Big Meadows Lodge

Mile 51.2 Skyline Drive, Luray, VA, US

Big Meadows Lodge


Click to discover a
great deal!


If you're spending some time at Shenandoah National Park, Big Meadows Lodge is a fantastic place to spend the night. Located directly within the park, this historic lodge is close to the Harry F. Byrd Visitor Center and is just over three miles to Dark Hollow Falls. The rooms are rustic and charming with wood paneling, and there are cabins available as well. Be warned: there aren't any TVs or phones in the cabins. But, there's an onsite restaurant and taproom, as well as free wifi in the lodge.

63mi 01h 28m
Photo of Humpback Rocks

Blue Ridge Parkway, Nellysford, VA, US

Humpback Rocks


Once you reach Lyndhurst, VA, check out Humpback Rock, a massively scenic rock close to the peak of Humpback Mountain. At a stunning elevation of over 3,000 feet, Humpback Rock provides a breathtaking view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

24mi 00h 33m

11581 Crabtree Falls Hwy Route 56, Montebello, VA, US

Crabtree Falls


In Montebello, VA you'll come to Crabtree Falls in the George Washington National Forest. It's one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River, so you know it's going to be magnificently gorgeous.


via Blue Ridge Pkwy & Blue Ridge Pkwy

49mi 00h 59m

Amherst, VA, US


Next up is a short side-trip to Amherst Virginia, a scenic and bucolic town along the Blue Ridge Parkway. A few key attractions to check out include, Sweet Briar College (one of America's most beautiful colleges), several golf courses, the Moncan Indian Ancestral Museum and the historic James River.


via Blue Ridge Pkwy & Blue Ridge Pkwy

24mi 00h 38m
Photo of Cave Mountain Lake Recreation Area

67 Cave Mountain Lake Rd, Natural Bridge Station, VA, US

Cave Mountain Lake Recreation Area


Then, nestled in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, Cave Mountain Lake Family Camp is a rustic and relaxing camping getaway. Close to Natural Bridge and the parkway, this is a great spot for some R&R while driving down the Blue Ridge Parkway. The seven-acre campground was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.


via Blue Ridge Pkwy

27mi 00h 39m
Photo of Natural Bridge Park

6477 S Lee Hwy, Natural Bridge, VA, US

Natural Bridge Park


Further south in Virginia, and another short detour off the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can find the ginormous Natural Bridge. It's 20 stories of solid rock, carved out by nature and it has boggled the minds of everyone who's seen it, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

0mi 00h 00m
Photo of Natural Bridge Hotel

15 Appledore Ln, Natural Bridge, VA, US

Natural Bridge Hotel


Click to discover a
great deal!


The Natural Bridge Hotel is a very charming hotel close to a lot of local attractions. You're a minute walk to the wax museum, and a little over a mile to the zoo, and there's free WiFi. TIP: Request a mountain view room. There's also a restaurant, cave and bar on site.


via Blue Ridge Pkwy & Blue Ridge Pkwy & Blue Ridge Pkwy

11mi 00h 15m

2522 Colonial Ave SW, Roanoke, VA, US

The Roanoker Restaurant


When you're ready for some hearty road food, the Roanoker Restaurant is a good bet. It was first opened in 1941, then when WWII broke out the restaurant packed food for soldiers who stopped in Roanoke on trains. The eatery has been operating ever since, and has remained a local favorite!


via Monet Dr & Blue Ridge Pkwy & Skyline Hwy & Elk Ridge Rd & Cone Rd & Holloway Mountain Rd

18mi 00h 28m
Photo of Grandfather Mountain State Park

9872 North Carolina 105, Banner Elk, NC, US

Grandfather Mountain State Park


Once you reach Banner Elk, NC, Grandfather Mountain State Park is definitely worth a stop. It's a hiker's paradise. There are challenging trails for more skilled hikers, and rocky cliffs that offer breathtaking scenic views. You can also get a permit and camp in the park.

5mi 00h 07m
Photo of Sugar Creek Gem Mine

3045 Tynecastle Highway, Banner Elk, NC, US

Sugar Creek Gem Mine


If you're feeling lucky, stop by Sugar Creek Gem Mine and prospect for precious stones. They'll help you identify anything of value and even set it in jewelry for you!


via Staceys Creek Rd & Orchard Rd & Blue Ridge Pkwy & Blue Ridge Pkwy

35mi 00h 54m

Next, you'll arrive in Asheville, NC. This is a fantastic stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here's you'll find plenty of historic and bed and breakfasts and cozy campsites where you can rest your head, and there's tons of good eating, from old-school diners to places serving up the next great food trend. Asheville is the perfect place to stop and do a little exploring (and eating and drinking). The town is full of unique characters, quirky galleries and boutiques, plus it's a beer-lover's dream, with dozens of microbreweries scattered around town...they don't call it the "Brew" Ridge Parkway for nothing, you know!

39 N. Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC, US

Lexington Avenue Brew

A favorite Asheville stop for road travelers is the Lexington Avenue Brew. The pub food is locally sourced, and there's often live music. The industrial setting is pretty amazing, too.

48 College St, Asheville, NC, US

Table Asheville

Also, if you have time, grab a bite at Table. It's a small, seasonal restaurant in the heart Asheville's vibrant downtown. They like to be innovative with their menu, and it's pretty whimsical and always changing.

91 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC, US

Wicked Weed Brewery

You absolutely cannot visit Asheville and skip Wicked Weed. Here, they inspire rebellion and revolution with their brews, which include open-fermented Belgian beers and barrel-aged sours. If you want to feel like a rebel and drink epic beer, definitely grab a pint here.

Honestly, you can't pick a bad time drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. In summer, the parks along the Blue Ridge Parkway are lush and green. In the fall, the entire drive is covered in fiery foliage (usually from early October to early November). In winter, the driving is a tad precarious, especially if it's a snowy winter. But, the Blue Ridge Mountains become blanketed in snow and it looks like a white wonderland. In spring, the flowers bloom across the route: the best to see them is between April and May.


VT livin - My boyfriend and I take a road trip every spring when our mountain closes. This year east coast VT to Fort Myers.