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Take this ultimate Blue Ridge Parkway road trip

Get to know the art, hiking, camping, and incredible views of the Northeast on a Blue Ridge Parkway road trip.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

The Blue Ridge Parkway is America’s longest linear parkway, extending for 469 miles connecting Rockfish Gap, Virginia to Cherokee, North Carolina. The road links Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which straddles the North Carolina and Tennessee border. 

Driving this road means seeing breathtaking scenery and having top-tier outdoor recreation opportunities without tolls or entrance fees. Read on for information on hikes, attractions, national parks, and places to eat along a Blue Ridge Parkway road trip!

Day One

Sip some booch at Blue Ridge Bucha - Waynesboro, VA

Five cans of kombucha in a line on a rock with a mountainous backdrop.
Photo: blueridgebucha.com

Start your drive in Waynesboro, Virginia, where you’ll find the state's first full-service kombucha brewery and taproom with eight draft lines of certified organic kombucha. This naturally carbonated, fermented tea is full of probiotics that are said to help the digestive system and boost immunity. Choose from delicious flavors like wild pear, jasmine grape, and elderflower sunrise for a refreshing sip! Or don't choose - order a flight to taste a variety of booch!

Blue Ridge Bucha is a family run business that values sustainability, practicing “green” measures like refilling glass growlers to reduce waste. The taproom has an inviting atmosphere for the whole family and includes a charming outdoor patio and kids play area.

Check out Mabry Mill - Meadows of Dan, VA

Wooden mill next to a pond along a Blue Ridge Parkway road trip. Trees with orange and green leaves in the background.
Photo: Elyse Clark

Located in Meadows of Dan, Virginia, Mabry Hill is an incredible spot to stop, explore, and take photos. This historic mill was built in the early 1900s and is still in operation! The building and waterwheel are set in a dreamy landscape, making it one of the most photographed stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway. You likely won’t be the only one admiring the view, so consider visiting early in the morning to avoid the busier part of the day.

The forest backdrop becomes especially magical in the Fall when the trees are adorned with bright colors. Aside from the scenery, Marby Mill is a great road trip rest stop since you’ll find bathrooms, a gift shop selling cornmeal and buckwheat flour ground on-site, and a restaurant (open daily from May 1st - November 1st) to satiate hunger from all your exploring.

Listen in at Blue Ridge Music Center - Galax, VA

Close-up of a person playing an acoustic guitar.
Photo: Gabriel Gurrola

If you love bluegrass, blues, or Americana music, you’ll definitely want to plan ahead and check for live performances at this impressive venue known for its midday mountain music sessions (free!) near Galax, Virginia. 

Beyond fantastic performances, the Roots of American Music Museum will take you through the musical and cultural history of traditional American music. Think strumming banjo or the sweet harmonious tunes of a fiddle. The music center typically opens in early May and closes the last weekend of October. The hiking trails accessible from the center are open year-round, perfect for stretching your legs on a Blue Ridge Parkway road trip!

Day Two

Hike Linville Falls Trail - Newland, NC

Cascading waterfall surrounded by a green forest.
Photo: Elyse Clark

Distance: 0.98 miles
Elevation gain: 177 ft
Type: Out-and-back

The hike to Linville Falls in Newland, North Carolina is easy to access from Blue Ridge Parkway. The nearly mile-long hike leads to a 90-foot, highly photogenic waterfall. If you’re not quite ready to head back to the car after soaking in the sights, continue exploring along the additional four miles of trails around the area. Pack a meal to enjoy at one of the picnic spots or flat rocks by the creek for some mid-adventuring fuel and relaxation.

Pro tip: Download an offline map on the Outbound Collective app before setting off so you can gain a better idea of the trail system.

Hike Craggy Pinnacle Trail - Asheville, NC

Low hanging fog surrounding mountain peaks. Blue sky with wispy clouds and a yellow shining sun in the center.
Photo: Michael Sommers

Distance: 1.03 miles
Elevation gain: 285 ft
Type: Out-and-back

Just a 30-minute drive from downtown Asheville, North Carolina, Craggy Pinnacle Trail is an idyllic Blue Ridge Parkway adventure featuring 360-degree mountain views. This roughly one-mile hike explodes with color when the rhododendrons are in bloom in the warmer months and is especially enchanting during sunrise and sunset. Morning mist creates a magical effect as it settles in the valleys and can make for fantastic early morning photo opportunities. There’s no question that the summit views are a big reward for this shorter trek.

Get creative at The Folk Art Center - Asheville, NC

Close-up of an artist's hands creating a floral design on a brown vase.
Photo: southernhighlandguild.org

The Folk Art Center in Asheville, North Carolina is the oldest craft shop in America showcasing traditional and modern Appalachian crafts from local artists. From home furnishings to accessories, there’s a lot to see! The galleries feature over 250 works from the last century, and there are many educational events and craft demonstrations to attend.

After browsing and potentially purchasing some unique art, explore the hiking trail on the property or check out the easily accessed Mountain-to-Sea Trail from the center.

Day Three

Visit Hickory Nut Gap Farm - Fairview, NC

Wooden awning with picnic tables underneath and people gathered on a green lawn with trees in the background.
Photo: hickorynutgap.com

Stop by Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, North Carolina for a unique farm market experience. Here, you’ll find a farm store filled with goodies like fruit, fresh eggs, and farm-raised beef, pork, and poultry. Hickory Nut Gap Farm prides itself on using regenerative agriculture and ethical animal welfare practices to produce high quality meats with high quality flavor. 

The farm store is open Wednesday-Sunday and hosts fun farm events for all ages!

Hike up Green Knob Fire Tower - Old Fort, NC

Looking out from a fire tower over green tree-covered mountains.
Photo: Merritt McKinney

Distance: 0.76 miles
Elevation gain: 292 ft
Type: Out-and-back

This less-than-a-mile hike in the thick of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Old Fort, North Carolina leads to a fire tower lookout with panoramic views. In clear weather, you’ll be rewarded with views of Mt. Mitchell, Craggy Mountains, Table Rock, Grandfather Mountain, and the Blue Ridge Parkway from the top. 

The path to the fire tower is lightly traveled and not well marked, so be aware of your surroundings while taking in the beauty of the lush terrain. Since the Green Knob fire tower isn’t clearly visible while driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s not typically crowded. This means you can imagine this gem as your very own slice of Blue Ridge heaven (at least for a little bit)!

Day Four

Get your hike on in Great Smoky Mountains National Park - NC and TN

Three hikers sitting on a rocky summit overlooking a mountainous landscape. The sky is blue and the sun is shining.
Photo: Adam Welch

At the border of North Carolina and Tennessee lies 520,000 acres of America’s most visited National Park. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an outdoor enthusiast's dream full of waterfalls, wooded trails, mountain vistas, valleys, and abundant wildlife. Wake up early and head to a summit to see the low-hanging fog (referenced in the park’s name) that emits a magical aura.

Pro tip: Check out adventures and places to eat in and near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Stay at The Pisgah Inn - Canton, NC

Observation deck overlooking a vast mountain landscape at an inn along a Blue Ridge Parkway road trip. Sky is blue and cloudy.
Photo: Pisgah Inn

The Pisgah Inn in Canton, North Carolina is open seasonally from April 1st to October 31st and offers visitors comfortable accommodations, tasty food, and incredible views.

The large windows in the main dining room pair with daily chef specials like Sorrell’s Creek Farm Whole Mountain Trout, Braised St. Louis Style Ribs, and Southern Corn Fritters for a memorable meal with a view. Make a reservation ahead of your visit to ensure you can enjoy this incredible sensory experience.

If you want something a bit more casual, the inn's The Grazing Deer Cafe is another on-site dining option that offers a selection of grab-and-go foods and beverages for a quick bite, which you can enjoy in your room, in the car, or outside at one of the picnic tables.

Day Five

Stop at Shenandoah National Park - VA

Rocky foreground overlooking a lush green mountainous landscape. Sky is a soft orange color at sunset.
Photo: Sarah Giek

Located in Virginia, Shenandoah National Park runs alongside the famous Blue Ridge Mountains, the central point of this road trip. This park has a range of landscapes and natural attractions from wetlands to waterfalls, forests, and rocky mountain peaks. Shenandoah National Park is home to over a hundred miles of the famous Appalachian Trail. Be on the lookout for long-distance hikers (called thru hikers), many bird species, and black bears!

Download the Outbound Collective app to save adventures along your route and even map a driving route for your Blue Ridge Parkway road trip.

Related reading

Exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway on the way to Asheville, NC
Part I: Exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville- North
Part II: Exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville- South

Cover photo: Clay Banks

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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