Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Blue Ridge Parkway

Posted June 1, 2011
Updated June 2, 2011

What is your favorite stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway and why? Let’s get a nice conversation going today. 

My favorite stretch of the Parkway is closed right now. Historic stone guardwalls along the scenic route are being repaired due to decades of deterioration mostly due to weather changes. It’s a 28-mile stretch between Highway 21 near Roaring Gap going south past Doughton Park. Be prepared for detours in this area. The good news is the campground at Doughton Park is scheduled to reopen on July 15th. But the Bluffs Lodge and Coffee Shop at Doughton are closed indefinitely due to a contract renewal issue with a private concession company. 

The entire guardwall project in this area is not expected to be completed until May 2012. Right now when you drive up Highway 21 from Elkin, you have to take a detour through Sparta and down Highway 18 until you reconnect with the Parkway. It’s a bit of a hassle for folks with cabins and cottages in the Roaring Gap area, but in the long run, there will be a definite benefit in getting those walls repaired. 

I have a strong emotional attachment to this part of the Parkway. My father used to vacation at the Bluffs Lodge. I’ve attached a watercolor image from one of his trips there back in the 1960’s.


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  • genegeneandnancy Jun 2, 2011

    Love the Boone/Blowing Rock/Valley Crusis area....could spend all day just in the Mast General Store looking at the old time toys, the candy barrels, and clothes. Dining at the Daniel Boone Inn is a MUST when in the area if you like country cooking brought to the table family style...doesn't get much better than that!

  • donaldlsmith Jun 2, 2011


    One of our two favorite stretches of the Parkway is up around Mabry Mill, and my wife and I have been to Chateau Morrisette several times ... but we prefer another vineyard called Villa Appalaccia. It's on the other side of the Parkway a couple of miles north of Morrisette on State Route 720. We think their wines are better and a number of weekends during the summer and fall, they cook pizza outdoors in a wood-fired brick oven or offer tastings of cheese, olives, bread ... whatever. The surrounding scenery is prettier as well. It's a great place to kill a couple of hours.

    Our other favorite area is between Asheville and Balsam, particularly around Mount Pisgah and Devil's Courthouse.

  • flyguync Jun 1, 2011

    My favorite section is from 421 near Boone, to Hwy 21 at Roaring Gap. I like the way it opens up and you can see meadows and pastures.

  • Wheelman Jun 1, 2011

    We spend a lot of time in the West Jefferson area and I enjoy the ride from the Northwest Trading Post to Blowing Rock.

    When I was growing up my dad would take off for a 4-5 day weekend 2-3 times a year and we would leave Wilson at 2-3 AM (no A/C in car) and head to the mtns around the Boone area. One time we would ride the Parkway north through VA and the next time south to TN. Alternating each time. '57 Ford station wagon with a couple of coolers of food and drinks and a 2-burner Coleman gas stove. Picnic 3 times a day along the Parkway most days. That man did love those mountains. What I would give to ride that road with him one more time!

  • zibby Jun 1, 2011

    My wife and I enjoy the area around mp 264 "the lump" is a great picnic area!

  • bleslie Jun 1, 2011

    Have any of you ever been to Chateau Morrisette north of Mabry Mill in VA? Awesome winery right off BRP and wonderful restaurant.

  • bleslie Jun 1, 2011

    Good point, Wheelman! You made me think of another favorite stretch - between Blowing Rock and Grandfather Mountain. I travel that leg every July for the Highland Games.

  • Wheelman Jun 1, 2011

    This is like asking someone which child is their favorite. They're all beautiful and I love them all for different things.

  • justuptonogood Jun 1, 2011

    So many to choose from, but I would have to say from Grandfather Mountain to Mount Mitchell. My next choice would be from Asheville to Cherokee; so many tunnels to drive through.

  • thefensk Jun 1, 2011

    I haven't driven a part of it I didn't like.

    When we lived in Lynchburg VA, I even taught my daughter to drive on the Parkway, which connects not far from Lynchburg. An early Sunday morning drive down the fairly tame stretches in that area gave her some great drive "feel" and was much less taxing on her aged father's nerves.




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