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Plateau Region: Day Trip Sample

A slow-paced, one day trip from Roanoke, Virginia (Milepost 120) to the North Carolina state line (Milepost 216) is highlighted by intensive exposure to the Blue Ridge cultural landscape. The rural experience on the Parkway and on adjacent lands highlights mills, music, and agriculture, demonstrating how people have interacted with the landscape over time.

Morning

Leave Roanoke early in the morning and drive the four mile loop around Roanoke Mountain (Milepost 120.4) for some great views of the region and a stroll along the Summit Trail (.1 mile) before heading south. Climbing up onto the flat plateau of the Blue Ridge, pull into overlooks at Cahas Knob (Milepost 139) or Devil’s Backbone (Milepost 143.9) where you can look off of the steep escarpment and across the east to the piedmont.

Arrive at Mabry Mill (Milepost 176) for lunch and a leisurely stroll through Ed Mabry’s mill and blacksmith shop. Demonstrations of Appalachian and Blue Ridge crafts are often highlighted here.

Mid – Late Afternoon

Your destination is the Blue Ridge Music Center (Milepost 213), but along the way, there are a number of attractions worthy of a short stop. At Groundhog Mountain Picnic Area (Milepost 188.8) there is a display of the many kinds of wood fences that you may have admired along the Parkway. Just a mile further down the road at Puckett Cabin (Milepost 189.9), the story of the mountain midwife who delivered 1,000 babies in the region.

Late Afternoon – Early Evening

Arriving at the Blue Ridge Music Center (Milepost 213) you can perhaps catch Mountain Midday Music or an outdoor concert (fees may apply) featuring the best bluegrass, old time, and gospel music in the region. At the visitor center, “The Roots of American Music” exhibition provides a thorough historical introduction to the music that is so much a part of the regional experience.

Galax, Virginia is ten miles away with lodging, restaurants and its extraordinary collection of bluegrass and old time music traditions providing a memorable evening.

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.
  • Waterrock Knob, MP 451.2
  • An ideal spot for watching sunrise and sunsets across the rugged mountains, Waterrock Knob Visitor Center sits at almost 6,000 feet elevation.
  • 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
  • Rocky Knob & Mabry Mill, MP 169, 176.2
  • These Parkway treasures offer many opportunities for visitors including hiking, camping, picnicking, and one of the most-photographed structures along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Blue Ridge Music Center
  • The Blue Ridge Music Center is a state-of-the-art performing arts facility built to preserve and promote the historic music of Virginia and the Blue Ridge.
  • 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.
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