For the car enthusiast, quality time behind the wheel is one of life's greatest pleasures. However, it isn't easy to find a road without the distractions of stoplights, tolls, or traffic. That's why one of my favorite drives is on the Blue Ridge Parkway, where breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, valleys, and terrain are around every corner. But, sightseeing is only one of the reasons to drive the Parkway. Buckle up, and let's find out what makes this road one of the best drives in America.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, which has been called "America's Favorite Drive," welcomes over 15 million visitors each year. Carved through the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, the Parkway extends from the Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains. This 470 mile road includes 151 bridges, 26 tunnels, and 275 paved overlooks. On your scenic drive, you'll experience several elevation changes, from a low of 650 feet at the James River crossing in Virginia to over 6000 feet in the mountains south of Asheville, North Carolina. This park, with a road down the middle, has many interesting attractions along the way, some directly off the Parkway, and others a short side trip away.
You don't have to drive the entire length of the Parkway to appreciate the uniqueness of this special road. Regardless of where you start and end your journey, you'll enjoy your roller coaster drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Even the trip to the Parkway, with its uphill climbs and switchbacks, will be a memorable driving experience.
Although the 45 mph speed limit may seem too restrictive at first, during rapid changes in elevation, you'll quickly realize the road is challenging, at any speed. And, if your car has a standard transmission, shifting the gears, without using the brakes, as you go through the curves, makes the course even more challenging, not to mention more fun.