Blue Ridge Parkway

One of the most scenic drives in all of America

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The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic 469-mile ribbon of two-lane highway that connects Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina with Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.  It is America’s longest linear park, as it is operated and maintained by the National Park Service.

STONE04.JPGDevil’s Courthouse Mountain, near milepost 422

According to Virtual Blue Ridge, there are over 200 pull-offs along the parkway that offer scenic views. Some of these pull-offs also have picnic areas, hiking trails, and/or even waterfalls.

OPEN03.JPGParts of four states can be seen from the top of Devil’s Courthouse.

I have only been on about a 50-mile stretch of the parkway in North Carolina, between Waterrock Knob and the city of Asheville.  This stretch includes the Richland Balsam Overlook near milepost 431, which at 6053 feet, is the highest point along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Also along this stretch, at milepost 413.2, the exposed granite of Looking Glass Rock can be seen in the middle of a sweeping view from the Pounding Mill Overlook.

LONE BALD OVERLOOK IMG_2315.JPGLone Bald Overlook, at milepost 432.7, offers a great view of not-too-distant mountains.

My favorite stop along this stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway is near milepost 422 of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Devil’s Courthouse.  Devil’s Courthouse is a giant rocky mountaintop from which visitors can see parts of four states: NC, SC, GA, and TN.  The parkway passes a parking lot, from which the rock itself can be seen.  To reach the summit, one must hike about a half-mile up a steep trail.  At the top is an observation area, surrounded by low stone walls.

POUNDING MILL OVERLOOK (9).JPGLooking Glass Rock can be seen from the Pounding Mill Overlook.
richland balsam001.JPGAt 6053 feet, Richland Balsam Overlook is the highest elevation on along the parkway.
richland balsam002.JPGRocky escarpments are seen at the Richard Balsam Overlook.
IMG_2412 - Copy.JPGA lone climber sits near the edge of Devil’s Courthouse.
WALL04.JPGThe actual observation platform atop Devil’s Courthouse is surrounded by a short wall.
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