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Ridge Region: Day Trip Sample

A slow-paced day trip from Afton Mountain and Rockfish Gap (Milepost 0) to the Peaks of Otter (Milepost 86) will highlight the ridge-top driving experience of the Ridge District with magnificent views of the flora and fauna of Appalachian hardwood forests and sweeping vistas of the Great Valley of Virginia.

Morning

Arrive at the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center (Milepost 5.8) and spend an hour or so exploring exhibits about pioneer life in the mountains. Choose a guidebook or literature from the information desk or gift shop library before strolling through the outdoor farm museum where, during warmer months, costumed interpreters explain the generalized life style of subsistence farmers. From the Visitor Center, head south to Greenstone Overlook (Milepost 8.8) for a spectacular view and brief introduction to some geology of the Blue Ridge region. Another quick stop at Yankee Horse Ridge (Milepost 34.4) reveals the remnants of an old logging railroad and a beautiful stream and waterfall, all within sight of the parking area.

Mid – Late Afternoon

Arrive at James River Visitor Center (Milepost 63.8) by noon and enjoy a picnic lunch on the river bank. A quick stroll (.2 miles) on the pedestrian walkway leads to a restored canal lock on the other side of the river, a reminder of the Parkway’s proximity to many unique stories of cultural and natural history. Continue south on the Parkway while gaining nearly 3,300 feet in elevation in just 12 miles. At Thunder Ridge (Milepost 74.7) a short leg-stretcher trail (.1 mile) rewards you with sweeping views of Arnold’s Valley and Thunder Ridge Wilderness areas as well as a distant view of the Allegheny Mountains. The overlook also gives you the right to say you have been on the Appalachian Trail, the 2,000-mile hiking trail from Georgia to Maine!

Late Afternoon – Early Evening

Arrive at the Peaks of Otter (Milepost 86) with time to enjoy the Nature Center and the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center with exhibits on the “lure of the mountains” through the centuries. Camping or lodging is available for the evening. Advance reservations are strongly recommended.

Highlights & Happenings

  • Craggy Gardens, MP 364
  • For generations, visitors have headed for the Craggies in June, typically the prime time for viewing the pink and purple blooms of Catawba rhododendrons that blanket much of the area.
  • Doughton Park, MP 240
  • The Brinegar Cabin, craft demonstrations, and diverse hiking options and make Doughton Park a must-experience destination along the Parkway.
  • Moses H. Cone Park, MP 294
  • Today the manor and the entire estate are one of the most heavily used areas along the Parkway and home to the Parkway Craft Center. Carriage roads are popular for hiking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing, especially by residents of the Boon
  • Humpback Rocks, MP 5.8
  • At the northern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Humpback Rocks is perhaps the best representation of the varied combination of natural and cultural resources anywhere along the Parkway corridor. Visitors can tour a collection of nineteenth century far
  • Peaks of Otter, MP 86
  • With stunning views, natural beauty, and the surrounding Jefferson National Forest, it’s no wonder the Peaks of Otter area has attracted people to the region for more than 8,000 years.
  • Cumberland Knob, MP 217.5
  • Located near the Virginia state line, Cumberland Knob is the site where construction of the Blue Ridge Parkway began in 1935. It was the first recreation area opened to the public and remains a favorite destination for both locals and visitors.
  • Parkway Visitor Center, MP 384
  • Watch an orientation video and learn how to make the most of your visit to the Parkway and region at this visitor center. View exhibits featuring the unique Parkway design and construction, the natural and cultural history, and recreational opportuni
  • Parkway Road Conditions
  • An open Parkway is a safe Parkway. Be sure to check road conditions online or by phone before you travel and during your visit.
  • Explore by Region
  • With 469 miles of scenic beauty, the Blue Ridge Parkway weaves through parts of Virginia and Western North Carolina to the Smokies in Tennessee.
  • Attractions, Dining & More
  • From fine arts to fun, experience the best places and activities to enhance your visit to the Blue Ridge Parkway region.
  • Blooms & Wildlife Watching
  • Don't forget your cameras and binoculars when visiting the Blue Ridge Parkway! Learn when and where to see blooms along your journey.
  • Hiking Trails
  • A journey on the Blue Ridge Parkway offers motorists spectacular views of Southern Appalachia’s diverse beauty for 469.1 uninterrupted miles.
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