Although we’re living in stressful times in America right now and travel to faraway destinations seems a distant memory, we’ve found an antidote to fill our urge to get out and about: a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Billed as “America’s Favorite Drive” by the National Park Service, this beautiful winding highway offered at no charge to guests meanders through some of the South’s prettiest forests and mountainous areas, open and accessible to all with numerous entrances and exits along the way.
After a short bed-and-breakfast stay in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, west via the Blue Ridge, entering the parkway at Milepost 293, abiding by (willingly!) the 45 mile-per-hour speed limit, and rolling down the windows for fresh spring air as we traveled 91.2 miles to Asheville.
Our first stop: Moses Cone Memorial Park. Named for Moses Cone who, along with his brother Caesar, established a thriving textile business in the late 19th century, the estate offers walking paths in and around Flat Top Manor (now being renovated) which was home for Moses and his wife Bertha.
You can stroll past the carriage house and on to the cemetery on winding paths through apple orchards. Once the central location of the Parkway Crafts Center, Cone Manor is now closed to the public, and there are currently no craft exhibitions. But visitors (thankfully!) are free to roam the grounds and enjoy the peacefulness of this very special park.
The Blue Ridge pParkway offers spectacular vistas no matter where you stop.
So, pull over frequently, rest a while, and take as many photos as you want. Look closely to see fresh, new spring growth or gaze as far as your eyes can see at rolling mountains and layers upon layers of color. Early spring-flowering trees, tender new buds, and gentle waterfalls just add to the ambiance.
Thanks to good signage, you stay informed of elevations, locations and names of special places like Table Rock Mountain. At this pull-out, we spotted the sign first. Then, when we got out of the car, we looked left for the full-on sight.
Another favorite area, Craggy Gardens lived up to its name as menacing forms seemed entangled and almost human trees reached eerily against the sky.
Of course, our favorite past-time — other than the slow, winding drive — was just taking in the beauty of the mountains.
If you’re thinking of driving the Blue Ridge Parkway this fall, prepare early. Book your stops and map out your distances. As you can imagine, travel in the U. S. is even more popular now, and the mountains are calling. But what a marvelous place to unwind and appreciate the beauty of the area!
It’s one peaceful drive: the marvelous Blue Ridge Parkway.
Rusha & Bert