Visit the top attractions along the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC. Our Top 10 list covers the most popular attractions and sites, as well as a few lesser known places where you can take in amazing views of the mountain scenery. The Blue Ridge Parkway covers 469 miles through Western North Carolina and Virginia. America’s most scenic drive passes through or near Maggie Valley, Asheville, Sylva, Blowing Rock and Cherokee. Along the way, you’ll see the oldest mountains in the world – the Appalachians. You’ll get to see authentic Appalachian crafts and culture, enjoy great music and special events, and explore hiking trails, waterfalls and campgrounds. Take in breathtaking vistas of mountains, valleys and sky on clearly marked overlooks along the parkway. The Blue Ridge Parkway, NC is a show-stopping road trip like none other.
- Cherokee – From scenic waterfalls and parks to kayaking and horseback riding and more, you’ll find it all at Cherokee, NC. Be sure to see the Oconaluftee Indian Village, Unto These Hills Outdoor Drama and Harrah’s Cherokee Casino.
- Asheville – No trip to Asheville is complete without seeing The Biltmore Estate, a grand mansion built by the Vanderbilt family in the style of a French castle. After touring the mansion (which itself covers four acres and is still considered the largest home in America), you can tour the beautiful grounds and gardens. The estate covers more than 1,000 acres and includes vineyards, formal gardens, hiking and horseback riding trails, shops, restaurants and more. Of course, Asheville is a big city and it offers much more. View a sample Asheville itinerary.
- Blowing Rock – Situated just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock is a popular destination. It offers the famous Tweetsie Railroad mountain experience, as well as Grandfather Mountain, 100 shops and boutiques, restaurants, quaint sites and entertainment. Blowing Rock is also home to Blowing Rock Art & History Museum, located at 159 Chestnut Street.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park – A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most popular national park in the U.S., the Great Smoky Mountains National Park features Cades Cove, a historic village with houses and churches, along with a host of campgrounds, trails, waterfalls and magnificent scenery. It spans from NC to VA, and numerous towns are located within it, including Maggie Valley and Haywood County. The area is the setting for several famous movie scenes too.
- Waterfalls – There are several waterfalls located along the Blue Ridge Parkway. These are Crabtree Falls and Graveyard Fields. Crabtree Falls is located at Milepost 339.5 – 340.2. To view Crabtree Falls requires a hike of about three miles into the interior along a well-marked trail. There is a campground with 71 tent sites and 22 RV sites. You’ll also find a restaurant, shop and a picnic area with restrooms. Graveyard Fields Overlook is located at Milepost 418.8. It gets its name from the skeletons of ancient trees that once dotted the landscape. Yellowstone Falls is accessed via a hiking trail from the Graveyard Fields entrance. It’s a 2.3-mile hike that also includes a bridge over a scenic river – at the end of the trail, you’ll see the falls. Whitewater Falls is the highest waterfall east of the Rockies. It’s located in Sylva, NC. In fact, Jackson County (which includes Sylva) is home to 19 waterfalls, 10 trails and lays claim to being “the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC”. Learn more about Jackson County at mountainlovers.com.
- Linville Gorge & Linville Falls – Located at Milepost 316.3 – 317.8, Linville Falls is a three-tiered waterfall flowing over Linville Gorge. The Gorge is fondly called the “Grand Canyon of the Southern Appalachians”. It is possibly the most popular waterfall and destination along the parkway. There is a campground with 50 tent sites and 20 RV sites, a Visitor Center and a picnic site. As both the smallest and the most popular campsite along the parkway, Linville Gorge is often booked to capacity. Reservations can be made online or by phone at 1-877-444-6777.
- Mt. Mitchell State Park – This site earns fame as “the highest peak in the eastern United States” and is located at Milepost 355.4. Mt. Mitchell rises to an elevation of 6,684 feet and the park covers 1,855 acres. Discover hiking trails, picnic areas and an observation deck with 360-degree panoramic views. From May through October, the Visitor’s Center, Museum, restaurant, gift shop and campground will be open for business.
- Chimney Rock – Chimney Rock State Park is a national historic site with a wealth of things to do beyond its breathtaking views from the observation deck at the top of Chimney Rock Mountain. You’ll find hiking trails, music concerts and family-related events. They offer an elevator ride through the inside of the mountain (an amazing thrill in itself), which leads to a Sky Lounge, gift shop and snack bar, as well as the observation deck.
- Rocky Knob Visitor Center and Campground – Home to the 3,500-acre Rock Castle Gorge, Rocky Knob is one of the most popular sites along the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC. It’s located from Milepost 167 to 174. Rocky Knob Campground is situated at Milepost 161.1. It features 81 tent sites and 21 RV /camper sites. A 72-table picnic area, a picnic shelter, campfire circle and restrooms can be found at this rustic campground.
- Mabry Hill – Located at Milepost 176.1, Mabry Hill offers hiking, camping and picnicking. The most photographed scene along the parkway is the historic Mabry Mill situated on this site. Every Sunday during the summer, enjoy live mountain music and dancing performances.
Accommodation Near the Soco Gap Access to the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
Plan a stay at Meadowlark Motel in Maggie Valley, located moments from the Soco Gap access to the Blue Ridge Parkway in NC. Nestled right in the center of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, Maggie Valley is an exciting destination with many attractions. The Meadowlark Motel is within walking distance to Maggie Valley Festival Grounds (where you can take in live shows and events throughout the year) and a number of restaurants, shops and attractions. This legendary creek-side motel is just a short drive from Cherokee, Asheville, Mt. Mitchell State Park and all of the other attractions in our Top 10 list. Enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi and Continental breakfast during your stay in an array of accommodations, from guest rooms to a cabin or cottage. They also have an outdoor pavilion equipped with a full kitchen, picnic tables and outdoor furniture overlooking Jonathan Creek.
Photo: Mabry Mill by Gary Johnson, Public Domain