If you don’t necessarily want to get out and hike, but still want to see the breathtaking scenic views of Asheville, byways are a great way to enjoy nature without all the hiking. A byway is a road that has been designated by the federal and state government as a historical, cultural, natural, scenic, recreational, and archeological path through National Park Land. Let me tell you a bit about the Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville.
A Guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville
Scenic byways take travelers out of city stretches and through National Park Land, National Forests, rustic valleys, majestic mountains, scenic towns, vineyards, waterfalls, historic sites, and tranquil farmlands.
One of the most famous byways in the North Carolina Mountains is the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Blue Ridge Parkway was built during the Great Depression. It was created to be a meandering drive through the Appalachians from Virginia to North Carolina.
There are various turnouts, hiking trailheads, and picnic spots that make the byway an experience you will want to have.
Related: Biltmore Estate at Christmas
I drove part of the byway from Asheville NC north. It was in December and while there was no snow on the ground in Asheville by the time I got to the mountain peaks there was plenty of snow to be seen and it was so beautiful! Let me share a bit about the whole Parkway.
This drive connects to National Parks. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the South end of the Parkway and the Shenandoah National Park at the north end of the Parkway. Because of this, the parkway is also an NPS site so you can visit one of the many visitor centers and get your Junior Ranger Badge and passport stamp and sticker!
Quick note when staying in Asheville and taking in things like the Blue Ridge Parkways and an Asheville Christmas I highly suggest staying at the Crowne Plaza Asheville. It's in the heart of the action but perfectly quiet and has plenty to do right on the property!
Here are a few things to do and see along the Blue Ridge Mountains:
Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Centers
The parkway has over 15 visitor centers along the route. Each one has its own info about the area it's in and a small museum. If you are driving the trail I suggest making time to stop at each some even have videos about the history of the parkway.
A few of the visitor centers I suggest if you can't visit them all are:
Enjoy hiking and scenic walks along the byway. There are over 100 different hiking trails along the Blue Ridge. If interested you can visit any of the visitor centers to get maps and information. Here are some of the most popular ones:
Stop and go camping for a night or a few nights. Campgrounds along the byway are not crowded and a good way to get off the beaten path. Here are a few campgrounds to check out:
Stop by Historic Sites. There are many historic homes, revolutionary war sites, and natural and cultural sites to see. Here are some of the most popular sites to stop at along your drive:
Related: 21 Top Things to do in Asheville NC
Get some food. You can pack a picnic if you want to, but you can stop at nearby restaurants and visitor centers for a bite to eat. Here are a few:
Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks
There are many overlooks along the road that have some breathtaking views along with small facts about the history of the area. Most of them also tell the elevation and some are the trail heads to the hiking paths.
The great thing about the byway is you can pick and choose where you stop and save the rest for another day! Share your experiences of the Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville in the comments below!