Frequently Asked Questions
Gasoline tanker trucks delivering gas to underground storage tanks at the top of many community watersheds creates a potential hazardous situation. That's why there is no gas on the Parkway. A little bit of planning, however, will allow you to stop at two or three places to fill up and, in addition, to experience Blue Ridge life at its best in the local communities in the region.
Why aren't there any more signs showing what is available off of the Parkway?
Part of the beauty and enjoyment of the Parkway is limited access and no commercial signs or vehicles. Short drives off of the Parkway into any nearby community will allow you to experience the charm and delight of the region.
What is the difference between the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway?
The Skyline Drive is the 105 mile scenic road through Shenandoah National Park. At Afton Mountain, Virginia, the Skyline Drive heads north and the Blue Ridge Parkway heads south. Look for Milepost 0 on the bridge over U.S. 250.
Is the Blue Ridge Parkway a national park?
The National Park Service administers a variety of kinds of areas. Some of these are "parks", some are called "seashores", some are called "monuments" or "historic sites", and some are called "parkways." We wear the same uniform and operate under basically the same rules as Yellowstone, Gettysburg, or Cape Hatteras. National Park Service's web site at http://www.nps.gov will give you the entire list!
Is there a fee for traveling the Parkway and can I use my National Park Pass while here?
There is no entrance fee for traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway, but camping fees are reduced for those with the Golden Age or Golden Access pass. A new pass for all federal recreation areas is available in 2007. Information on the America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass- Access Pass can be found at www.recreation.gov.
Who built the Parkway?
The Parkway was an idea born out of the Great Depression and part of its purpose was to put as many people as possible to work. Private contractors, the state and federal highway departments, Italian and Spanish immigrant stonemasons, and thousands of Civilian Conservation Corps enrollees did the work.
Are dogs and other pets allowed on the Parkway?
Dogs and other pets are allowed on the Parkway but must be on a leash (not to exceed six feet) or otherwise under your physical control.
Where, exactly, is the Blue Ridge?
The Blue Ridge is part of the entire eastern Appalachian Mountains and is generally described as stretching from north Georgia into Pennsylvania. From Milepost 0 at Rockfish Gap, VA to Milepost 355 near Mount Mitchell State Park, NC, the Parkway lives up to its name by following the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, averaging about 3,000 feet in elevation, and occasionally dipping down into the coves and hollows or crossing low-elevation water gaps. At Mount Mitchell, the Parkway veers westward through the Black Mountains, then into the Craggies before descending toward Asheville. From there, the road climbs to elevations over 6,000 feet in the Balsam Mountains before entering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee.
When was the Parkway built and how long did it take to get the job done?
Groundbreaking took place in September 1935 and the work was contracted and completed in "sections." By World War II, about one-half of the road was completed and by the 1960s, all but one section was opened to the public. In 1987, the last section was completed around Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, including the Linn Cove Viaduct at Milepost 304, an environmentally sensitive, award winning bridge.
Why is the Blue Ridge "blue"?
According to "A Naturalist's Blue Ridge Parkway" by David Catlin, "it can be legitimately claimed that trees put the "blue" in Blue Ridge, for hydrocarbons released into the atmosphere by the forest contribute to the characteristic haze on these mountains and to their distinctive color." The entire Appalachian Chain is extraordinarily diverse and rich in its vegetation, so there is perhaps more "blue" to the Blue Ridge and more "smoky" to the Great Smoky Mountains.