The Blue Ridge Parkway is the most popular destination in our national park system, hosting about 17 million visitors a year.
Nearly half the 469-mile route runs through North Carolina, including its highest elevations. Some of the parkway’s iconic features are in our state, including its highest peak and the Linn Cove Viaduct at Grandfather Mountain.
Visitors to the parkway generate more than $2 billion dollars a year for mountain communities. Its biological diversity, rich history and its parks and trails make the parkway a valuable educational and recreational resource.
'America's Favorite Journey' aired at June 29 at 7 p.m. on WRAL-TV.
But the parkway faces many challenges. Limited federal funding has led to a staff shortage and a maintenance backlog. Repairs and routine maintenance have been delayed, limiting access to certain sections of the parkway and diminishing the parkway experience. Some say there are not enough rangers to ensure public safety and prevent vandalism. Along some sections of the parkway, encroaching development threatens scenic views.
As the parkway celebrates its 75th birthday a new WRAL documentary examines the parkway’s importance to our state and nation. The documentary, called “America’s Favorite Journey”, explores the parkway’s past and the challenges it faces in the future. The program also looks at the many different ways people experience and enjoy the parkway.