Sunday, January 20, 2013

Blue Ridge Parkway of America

I have traveled this parkway several times but most of the times I entered into it from either Front Royal or from Chancellorsville etc. all those points I covered in the past were in the Shenandoah National Park. This months I did camping on the parkway in the Great Smoky Mountains. It was awesome.
Here are some words about Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States, noted for its scenic beauty.
It runs for 469 miles (755 km), mostly along the famous Blue Ridge, a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian Mountains.
Its southern terminus is on the boundary between Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee Indian Reservation in North Carolina, from which it travels north to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and offers access to the Skyline Drive, the major north/south artery through the Park.
The two All-American Byways are separate and distinct. The Blue Ridge Parkway was built to connect Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The Parkway is not a National Park, but is a National Scenic Byway and All-American Road, and is the most visited unit in the United States National Park System.
Land on either side of the road is maintained by the National Park Service and, in many places, the park is bordered by land protected by the United States Forest Service.
This parkway is very long and can be accessed at many places from Washington DC to Carolina or from just any place any road inter crosses it. In the very north it crosses through the high ridges of Shenandoah national park and in the south it passes through the Smoky Mountains.
Parkway was designed in such a way as if nature has placed it there. Whole area around the parkway is mostly a park system.
Each half mile or so there are scenic outlooks and there are thousands of designated trails with color marking and also maps available. Most scenic outlooks are also the crossing points of trails.
There are many campsites on this parkway. Many sites are on high altitude and all facilities are available to the travelers like tent spaces, rest rooms, water, picnic areas etc. Once can see several waterfalls.
Since this time we traveled on this parkway in North Carolina side. The Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina travels through most scenic places. Many visitors to the Parkway include visits to many places in the journey.
In North Carolina, Linville Falls, the Cradle of Forestry, Cherokee reservation, Grandfather mountain, Great Smoky Mountain Railroad and many many and other places to visit.
In addition to the places along the parkway, the road passes through historic towns offering fascinating exploration of the heritage and culture of the region along the way.
The headquarters of the Blue Ridge Parkway is located in Asheville, North Carolina, a city well known to literary figures including Carl Sandburg, Thomas Wolfe and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Exploration of their homes and haunts in the Asheville area presents an interesting side trip and a one or two day break from driving.
Right on the Blue Ridge Parkway lies another wonder:
The North Carolina Arboretum (434 acres) is an arboretum and botanical garden located within the Bent Creek Experimental Forest of the Pisgah National Forest at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, southwest of Asheville, North Carolina near the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is open daily except for Christmas Day. There is no admission charge, but some parking fees do apply.
Although the idea for the arboretum stretches back to landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in 1898, who wished to create an arboretum at the nearby Biltmore Estate, today’s arboretum was established by the General Assembly relatively recently, in 1986, as a facility of the University of North Carolina. In 1989 the site was officially designated the North Carolina Arboretum.
The arboretum is still under active development. It includes many hiking and bicycling trails, a bonsai collection, a holly garden, a stream garden, etc., as described below. Its tree collection includes a fine set of Metasequoias planted in 1950, and now said to be the tallest in the south (over 100 feet (30 m) in height).
There are many tunnels on the way and parkway is designed to maintain its scenic integrity with the nature.
Parkway in the autumn.
Along the road there are various interpretation and visitors offices wherever parkway is near any major thoroughfare. Those offices offer insight into the nature, flora and fauna.
Our campsite by the Blue Ridge Parkway.
A day use picnic table by the parkway picnic area. We made our tea here.

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