A slow-paced, one day trip from Roanoke, Virginia (Milepost 120) South to the North Carolina state line (Milepost 216) is highlighted by intensive exposure to the Blue Ridge cultural landscape. The rural experience on the Plateau Region of the Parkway and on adjacent lands highlights mills, music, and agriculture, demonstrating how people have interacted with the landscape over time.
Leave Roanoke early in the morning and drive up Mill Mountain Spur Road to the Roanoke Star and Overlook (Milepost 120.4) for some great views of the region. 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 the steep escarpment and across the east to the piedmont.
Arrive at Mabry Mill (Milepost 176) for lunch at Mabry Mill Restaurant 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), discover 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.