Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to some of our most frequently asked questions regarding your visit to Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway!
How is connectivity at the lodge?
While we don't have cell reception, and our WiFi capabilities are limited and weather dependent, we're proud to give you so many more ways to connect with your travel companions and with nature. So unplug from the outside world for a while and re-discover the peaceful tranquility of Peaks.
Where can I get gas while traveling on the Parkway?
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. The closest gas stations are located in Bedford, which is approximately a 20 minute drive from the lodge.
Are there electric car charging stations at the lodge?
Yes! Peaks of Otter Lodge offers Tesla and universal electric car charging stations for your convenience.
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. The Blue Ridge Parkway connects Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Shenandoah National Park (and the Skyline Drive) ends at Afton Mountain. At Afton Mountain in Virginia, the Skyline Drive heads north while the Blue Ridge Parkway heads south.
Is the Blue Ridge Parkway a national park?
The Blue Ridge Parkway is technically a national parkway, not a national park. However, both are operated by the National Park Service.
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. Fees are charged for camping, and are reduced for those with the Senior Pass or Access Pass (formerly Golden Age or Golden Access Passports). Information on America the Beautiful - The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series can be found at recreation.gov.
Does the Blue Ridge Parkway ever close?
The road is open year-round, but sections may close from inclement weather or maintenance. Check the Road Closures Map for road closures by section and access to Parkway weather reports.
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.
Is fishing permitted in Abbott Lake?
Anglers are prohibited from using live bait or boats, so fishing from the shoreline with artificial lures is required. Smallmouth bass are protected with a catch and release only regulation while the remaining species are governed by statewide regulations; please review those here before fishing.
Is there a place I can canoe on the Parkway?
Yes, at Julian Price Lake (Milepost 297), you may rent canoes or bring your own. Boating is not allowed in any other Parkway lakes, including Abbott Lake.
When can I see the best fall leaf color?
Typically, fall colors develop during mid to late October. Many factors, however, contribute to variations in when and where colors will peak.
When can I see rhododendron, mountain laurel, and azalea?
Catawba rhododendron (R. catawbiense) is the purple variety that blooms from early June around the Peaks of Otter in Virginia to the third week of June at Craggy Gardens in North Carolina. Any time between those dates, there are spots of this variety blooming. Rosebay rhododendron (R. maximum) is the larger white or pink variety that begins in mid to late June and blooms into July, primarily through Rocky Knob, VA. Flame azalea (R. calendulaceum), pink azalea or pinxter flower (R. nudiflorum), bloom early to late May in many Parkway areas. Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) blooms mid to late May and into June in higher elevations.
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"?
Trees put the "blue" in Blue Ridge. Hydrocarbons released into the atmosphere by the forest give the mountains their distinctive color.