What is It? This month’s featured Bucket List Road is the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway, which stretches 469 miles from near Waynesboro, VA to the Smoky Mountain National Park near Cherokee, NC. Sweeping curves and awe-inspiring vistas are just a few reasons why hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists ride the Blue Ridge Parkway (“BRP”) each year. Scenic overlooks, picnic sites, camping, lodging facilities, and other nearby travel destinations are some of the compelling attractions available to two-wheeled travelers along this restricted access byway. Helmets are required for riders and passengers. Although the maximum speed on the parkway is 45 mph, that velocity is usually more than adequate for enjoying this sinewy motorway with its plethora of expansive vistas and scenic turnouts.
History: This road project, which was originally called the Appalachian Scenic Highway, began during the Franklin D. Roosevelt Administration on September 11, 1935, near Cumberland Knob in North Carolina; construction in Virginia began the following February. On June 30, 1936, Congress formally authorized the project as the Blue Ridge Parkway and placed it under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. Much of the work was carried out by various New Deal public works agencies.
Construction of the BRP took over 52 years to complete; the last stretch (near the Linn Cove Viaduct) was constructed around Grandfather Mountain in 1983. The Blue Ridge Parkway tunnels were bored through rocky sections of the mountain ridges—one in Virginia and twenty-five in North Carolina.
Geography: The BRP follows many of the highest ridges between the Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, attaining altitudes of more than 6,000 feet and averaging between 3,000 and 4,000 feet. If you haven’t ridden the BRP yet, be sure to put it on your bucket list.