The Blue Ridge Parkway is only 22
miles from our vacation cabin rentals in Lake
Lure. A drive down the Parkway is slow paced
and relaxing. Almost any overlook or trail will
reveal much of the natural and cultural history
here. Explore the many communities along the
route that make our region so special. The Blue
Ridge Parkway is designed as a "drive awhile
and stop awhile" experience. Please don't be
in a hurry!
From Asheville, you can
drive north on the Parkway toward Mt. Mitchell
or south toward Mt. Pisgah, Looking Glass Rock
(photo above) and the Smoky Mountains. From
your cabin in Lake Lure, you can take a leisurely
ride either direction on the Parkway and take "regular"
roads for a quicker return to your cabin.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway
and All-American Road in the United States noted
for its scenic beauty. The Parkway winds for
469.1 miles (755 km) from the southern terminus
of Shenandoah National Park's Skyline Drive
in Virginia to U.S. 441 at Oconaluftee in the
Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee,
NC. It runs through the famous Blue Ridge Mountains,
a major mountain chain that is part of the Appalachian
Mountains. There is no fee for using the Blue
Overlooks, picnic areas, campgrounds, visitor
centers, hiking trails, and other areas of interest
are available along the road. The best way to
experience this place is to take advantage of
these opportunities. Short trails offer the
chance to get away from the road and see the
Blue Ridge up close and personal, even if just
for a few minutes. Longer trails are also available
for the more adventurous. Bicycling, photography,
birdwatching, and practically any other responsible
outdoor activity is available for the Parkway
Hundreds of overlooks allow opportunities
to catch a glimpse of sunrises or sunsets, have
a picnic, or just enjoy the view across the
mountains and valleys of the region.
While many people think of the Blue Ridge
Parkway just as a motor road, it is also a place
of varied and significant natural resources.
Along this route an unsurpassed diversity of
climate zones, vegetation zones, physiographic
zones, and geological features are traversed.
The more than 81,000 acres of Parkway lands
pass through a highland area of five degrees
longitude and approximately 3 degrees latitude,
making it the third largest unit of the National
Park Service in terms of area covered. Park
resources include 400 streams (150 headwaters),
47 Natural Heritage Areas (areas set aside as
national, regional or state examples of exemplary
natural communities), a variety of slopes and
exposures, and possibly 100 different soil types.
With an elevation range of 5,700 feet the Parkway
provides a home for both southern species at
the lower elevations and northern species on
Taking advantage of this diversity are 14
major vegetation types, about 1,250 vascular
plant species (50 threatened or endangered),
and almost 100 species of non-native plants.
Nearly 100 species of trees grow along the Parkway,
about as many as are found in all of Europe.
Added to that are estimates of almost 400 species
of mosses and nearly 2000 species of fungi.
Not to be outdone by the plants, many species
of animals make their homes along the Parkway.
Fifty-four different mammals, more than 50 salamanders
and 40 reptiles can be found on Parkway lands.
One hundred fifty-nine species of birds are
known to nest here with dozens of others passing
through during fall and spring migrations.
Weather conditions high on the mountains
can vary tremdously from the weather in the
surrounding valleys or piedmont region. Carrying
a jacket or some rain gear is always a good
idea. Check forecasts before your trip to the
mountains and always have a few emergency supplies
in the trunk of your car.