The Blue Ridge Parkway is ranked as the number one recommended attraction on TripAdvisor, by travelers visiting Asheville, NC and there is a reason why. Designated as a “motor park” the 400 plus mile long Blue Ridge Parkway is easily accessible for incredible scenic drives with your car, motorcycle or bicycle, it is a free National Park, there are seemingly unlimited, breathtaking and long range views of the Western NC Mountains, via pull-outs and hikes, there is easy access to hiking and bicycling, amazing creeks, swimming holes and waterfalls, access to the highest points in elevation east of the Mississippi, bird watching, amazing fall foliage, beautiful spring wild flowers… the list goes on.
The Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP), while often closed through mid-April due to inclement weather, seems to be staying open fairly regularly this winter season, 2012, as we experience low snowfall and unusually warm spring weather here in Asheville, NC. However, be sure and check for road closures, as with snow, rock fall or construction, parts of this incredible scenic highway can be closed, seemingly on a whim at times.
And while most of the Parkway can remain closed in winter months, the 20 mile Asheville, NC “commuter section” between the NC Arboretum and Bull Gap (around MPM 395, south end to MPM 375, north end) stays open almost all year round, and both the Folk Art Center and Park Head Quarters may be accessed from this corridor. The “Mountains to Sea Trail,” more commonly referred to as the “White Dot Trail” meanders along this section of the BRP, so hiking along this section of the parkway is almost always accessible. The NC Arboretum, Bent Creek Experimental Forrest and Lake Powatan border the Blue Ridge Parkway at the southern end of the Asheville commuter section where there are many access points to abundant walking, hiking and mountain biking. Cyclists, hikers and joggers alike often enjoy the road closure from Bull Gap to Mount Mitchell, as the roads are free and clear of motor traffic during these closures.
This year in Western NC, there has been little snow to speak of. Temperatures are abnormally warm this March. Flowers are bursting and Spring is certainly here. We will keep our fingers crossed against a hard freeze that can spoil our beautiful mountain spring flowers… But spring flowers are bursting, and the Parkway is open, except for the long term closures due to construction.