There’s no better way to travel the Eastern United States than by experiencing the Blue Ridge Mountains and Parkway. A destination for thousands of travelers year after year, the mountains seem to hold a special place in the hearts of people from across the world. The foggy hills, cascading waterfalls and densely overgrown forest are a natural wonder that can only be described as breathtaking. There’s a uniquely nostalgic and serene feeling that comes over you the first time you crest a mountain peak and witness the deep valleys below while literally driving through the clouds. Should you find yourself itching for one of the best road trips of your life, listen for the call of the Blue Ridge Mountains and you will find yourself there.
Depending on which direction you attacking the mountains from, you will most certainly find yourself driving straight into the Smoky Mountains first. These are hardly mistakable, as your first view will seem to be topped with smoke signals from every direction. Caught at the perfect dusk or dawn light of day, the smoky clouds will dance through beams of orange, purple and pink while playing across the tops of the hills like a performance seemingly for your eyes only. Only by experiencing it first hand can one remotely begin to understand the perfect clash of atmosphere that creates an environment born to become immortalized in song and picture throughout the decades.
Once you make it to the parkway, the best place to start is obviously at the beginning, either from the south entrances in North Carolina’s or the north entrance in Virginia. Boasting 469 miles of uninterrupted Appalachian and Smoky Mountains, the parkway is but one means of experiencing the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are a number of pull-offs for sweeping scenic views, waterfalls and hiking trails, while the National Park System maintains designated areas for primitive and RV camping for those who truly want to experience the forest.
One of the most rewarding hikes to a waterfall is near mile 339, called Crabtree Falls. The nearly three mile loop will wind you quietly through the forest floor and place you gently at the base of the beautiful falls. Take a moment to rest on the bridge and breath in the clean, fresh mist that lightly dusts your face while you stand and stare at this rugged monument built by nature. As one of over twelve main waterfalls, you are sure to find a spectacular view regardless of which mile marker you choose to stop.
Although the scenic views and turn outs are the perfect photo opportunities, there truly is something magical about simply driving the parkway. Winding in and out of the clouds, through the valleys and into dark cobblestone tunnels, the Blue Ridge Mountains and Parkway are an enchanting destination and the perfect way to enjoy the East Coast. Once you have found yourself in the tiny towns and vast wildlife of the Carolina’s and Virginia, you will understand the calling of the Appalachians and vow to return again and again.