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Craggy Gardens, Blue Ridge Parkway Pisgah Region

A one-day trip through the Pisgah District is a long drive – perhaps best undertaken from the comfort of your car – but comes with unique rewards. There is a natural resource emphasis that features relic populations of plants, long vistas across rugged and remote areas, and a feel of wilderness in these areas.

From Mount Mitchell (Milepost 355.3) to places like Craggy Gardens (Milepost 364.3) and Devil’s Courthouse (Milepost 422.2), you’ll see sites and facilities that highlight the story of biological diversity as a product of the area’s varied geology and topography. In the Asheville corridor, the Folk Art Center (Milepost 382) and Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center (Milepost 384) emphasize the craft heritage and the natural, cultural, and recreational resources of the Blue Ridge region.

Morning

Heading out of Spruce Pine or Little Switzerland in the morning, you will notice the number of tunnels that in this stretch of the Parkway through the rugged mountains of North Carolina. Mark Crabtree Falls as a place to come back when you have time to hike the trail (2.5 miles) to this magnificent Parkway feature. At Craggy Gardens (Milepost 364.5) stop at the visitor center for great views and exhibits on the rhododendrons that blanket the mountains here, drawing visitors for generations. A short hike (.3 miles one way) leads to a shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the early days of Parkway construction.

Mid-Late Afternoon

In Asheville, visit the Southern Highland Craft Guild’s Folk Art Center (Milepost 382) and the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center with film and exhibits (Milepost 384). Lunch in Asheville at the Grovewood Village or head south for a picnic at Mount Pisgah or lunch at Pisgah Inn’s restaurant (Milepost 407.8).

Take your time as you enjoy “the top” of the Parkway with elevations consistently over 5,000 feet and topping 6,000 feet for a short distance. This is, without a doubt, the place where the Parkway feels the most like “wilderness.” At Graveyard Fields (Milepost 418.8), or Devil’s Courthouse (Milepost 422.4), stretch your legs by strolling at least a short part of trails that lead to vistas.

Late Afternoon – Early Evening

At Richland Balsam Overlook (Milepost 431.4) the Parkway tops out at 6,047 feet for excellent photos. At Waterrock Knob (Milepost 451.2) a panoramic view of many mountain ranges have lead to its reputation as the best sunrises and sunsets anywhere on the Parkway. It is less than 20 miles to the end of the Parkway at Cherokee, NC for an evening of dining and experiencing the Native American culture of the Cherokee.