Blue Ridge Parkway

If you’re looking for an epic road trip, one of the best is driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. Running from the Southern-most end of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, the parkway has frequent overlooks, hiking trails, waterfalls, farms and historic structures. Step back into life of the Appalachian settlers and scenic mountain vistas.

Below are some of my favorite spots along our drive of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  

Mile Markers

The most important part of driving Blue Ridge Parkway is understanding and preparing for the navigation. Once you’re on the road, mileposts denote all of the stops along the way instead of physical addresses. I have denoted the closest mile markers with my pictures. The actual view may be slightly past the mile marker.

Virginia to North Carolina

My husband and I started in Virginia and drove South. We did the trip in early October which was slightly before fall foliage peak in the Virginia area. Color was a bit better in North Carolina, but still before peak. We entered the Blue Ridge Parkway at mile marker 0 in Waynesboro, VA. 

Milepost 5.8 Humpback Rocks Visitor Center

Be sure to stop at the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center. You can get your first glimpse of homestead life in the Appalachian Mountains here with the Humpback Rocks Mountain Farm. You will step back in time to the 1890s, a time without electricity, indoor plumbing, and on a mountain farm. 

Milepost 10 Raised Roost Overlook

Our first look at the vast mountains that lay ahead of us came at Raised Roost overlook. And it only got better from here!

Milepost 34 Yankee Horse Ridge

Here is an old logging railroad and multi-tiered waterfall. Early in the 20th century, lumber companies built narrow gauge railroads far into the mountains. This railroad, which was 50 miles long, carried more than 100 million board feet of logs to the mill.

Milepost 45

The mountains seem to go on forever. 

MP 74 Thunder Ridge Overlook 

Thunder Ridge Overlook provides beautiful views from the viewing platform or from the short hike that loops around the parking lot. 

The overlook includes a crossing of the Appalachian Trail. Here my husband is talking to a hiker we met on the trail.  He is in his 70s, has two total knee replacements and a bad hip, but his goal is 10 miles a day. He has been hiking all of his life.

Mile Post 154 Trail Cabin

This authentic 1880s cabin built by W. J. Trail is located at this mile marker. Just imagine waking up to this view each day!! 

Milepost 176 Mabry Mill

One of the most popular stops on Blue Ridge Parkway is Mabry Mill at MP 176. 

The sights and sounds of Rural Appalachia fill the air at Mabry Mill during summer and fall. Ed Mabry built the mill where he and his wife Lizzy ground corn, sawed lumber, and did blacksmithing for three decades. 

This was a high priority stop for me because it was just the quintessential Appalachian mountain view. Picture an old water mill slowly churning water from a stream with colorful fall foliage surrounding. It was a photographer’s dream.  

Mile Post 304 Linn Cove Viaduct

In 1987, the last section of the Blue Ridge Parkway was completed. The section was unique, as it was a 1,243-foot sectional concrete bridge, that wraps around a part of Grandfather Mountain, and cost $10 million dollars to complete. The section was named Linn Cove Viaduct, and is one of the most unique and popular attractions along the Parkway. People travel from all over the world to see it, and drive across it. This 7-mile stretch is probably one of the most recognizable areas.  

Mile Post 317 Linville Falls

Linville Falls is one of the most photographed and popular waterfalls along the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Mile Post 349.9 View of Mount Mitchell

Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi, with an elevation of 6,648 feet.

It’s about 5 miles to the top by car, and here you can enjoy some fabulous views from the observation deck.

Other Blue Ridge Parkway activities

Hiking and sight seeing are not the only activities on the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Imagine a crisp morning with sunlight filtering through the trees, birds voicing their cheery calls, and a cool mountain stream gurgling over a rocky stream bed. You stand in a cold, shady pool casting your line, wait for a nibble, and then set the hook at just the right instant. These are the quiet moments that fisherman often revel in.

I hope you get a chance to explore and enjoy the Blue Ridge Parkway. We spent several days here and I could go back and see more!  

My Camera

I’m often asked what camera I shoot with. I’m a firm believer that any modern camera today can produce a good picture. I use a Canon R5 as my main camera. It is a mirrorless camera, and more importantly it is a great tool. I am able to get it to translate the vision that I see into a photograph. My key reasons for this camera are: 

  • It is 45 mp. For some photographers, that may be too much as it produces large files. As a landscape photographer it is my sweet spot. 
  • It’s a Canon. I have used a lot of Canon cameras and have always found them dependable, reliable and intuitive to use. 
  • The RF lenses are truly amazing. I have always had EF-L series lenses, but the RF lenses produce stunning images. 
  • The image stabilization is outstanding.
  • It is not too large, and not too small and works well as a travel camera for landscape photography. 

But this isn’t a blog about cameras. If you want to know more, please contact me. 

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Debbi Marquette Photography is located in Upstate New York at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. Debbi is an award winning and published travel, landscape and bald eagle photographer specializing in artistic, authentic, and memorable landscape and wildlife photography. She travels frequently, lives near the mountains and constantly has a camera in her hand to capture photographs so others can see the beauty of our world.

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