Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway

Park Regulations & Safety

Parkway Begins Bridge Maintenance Project

Beginning Monday, March 17, 2008, Aldridge Brothers Inc., of Robbinsville, NC will be conducting maintenance repairs on numerous bridges on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This project is scheduled to begin in the Asheville area and work will proceed north encompassing selected Parkway bridges between Asheville and Roanoke, Virginia.

Parkway officials said this much needed work will consist of cleaning and sealing bridge expansion joints, spot repairs to decking, and sealing of the deck surface. The project is scheduled to be completed by January 2009.

No road closures are planned for the project; however, single lane traffic will be required to conduct maintenance procedures at certain times of the day. Visitors should use caution when traveling through the flagged work zones. Work restrictions are in place for the Asheville, Boone, and Roanoke commuter zones which will limit one lane closures to work hours between 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. No work will be conducted during the month of October.

Bicycling Information

Traveling the Parkway on bicycle requires more caution and planning than motoring. Bicycles must be equipped with reflectors. Helmets and high-visibility clothing are recommended. Be sure to ride single file and well to the right-hand side of the road. Bicyclists must obey the same traffic rules that apply to motor vehicles. Bicycles are not permitted on trails or walkways.

It is often a long distance between campgrounds and other facilities and services. Plan ahead and be sure to consider elevation changes that will require more time and exertion.

Parkway Section near Boone to Close in March

(Boone, NC)—The 6.3-mile section of the Blue Ridge Parkway between US Route 421 east of Boone, NC and US Route 321 south of Boone will be temporarily detoured for bridge repairs. The detour will begin for visitor traveling south at milepost 285.5, Bamboo Gap. These visitors will follow state road (SR) 1514 Bamboo Road to Deerfield Road, following the detour signs along US Route 321 south of Boone then connecting back to the Parkway at milepost 291.8.

Visitors traveling north will begin the detour at milepost 291.8, intersection US Route 321; follow the detour signs along US321 to state route 1514 Deerfield Road to Bamboo Road which will bring them back to the Parkway at milepost 285.5. The total detour is estimated to be approximately 8 miles.

Parkway officials said the closure is to allow repairs to be made to the Goshen Creek Bridge, mile post 286.3. These repairs are estimated to take nine months to complete. Officials emphasized that the scenic motor road will be open, weather permitting, up to the point of the detour. They also noted that visitation to the Parkway is at its lowest levels in winter, and the closure was scheduled to cause the least possible impact on public use and enjoyment of the scenic road.

New Emphasis on Parkway Etiquette

OPERATION FARTHING & PARKWAY ETIQUETTE

For visitors, the months of August, September and October are statistically the highest months of the year for involvement in a collision. Vehicles of all types, bicycles to recreational vehicles, cars to motorcycles, are more likely to be involved in a collision than any other period of the year. To address this concern the Parkway launched a multi-discipline traffic reduction program four years ago with notable success, as the accident rate during these months has been reduced in each of the years of the program.

Adding to the unique signs, handouts and high visibility enforcement, the Parkway is recruiting participation from vehicle operators by encouraging "Parkway Etiquette." The Blue Ridge Parkway was conceived, designed and constructed to be a scenic roadway and it has been internationally recognized as a showcase of the Appalachians. At the very heart of the visitor experience is a slower pace, allowing opportunities to absorb and reflect on the beauty and history.

This means that those operating a slower vehicle, such as a bicycle or RV, should use the many overlooks to allow others to pass. Motorcyclists and other drivers should also be prepared for longer drive times, as the Parkway is intended to be traveled at speeds lower than most routes in the region.

Parkway Etiquette is more than courtesy; it is an effective way to drive defensively and prevent accidents. To help each operator remember this important responsibility, Rangers will continue Operation Farthing this fall and will be making contact with vehicle operators who fail to follow traffic safety regulations. Drivers are urged to heed the Parkway slogan, "Enjoy the View, Watch the Road."

Road Closures

"An open Parkway is a safe Parkway!" has always been the guiding thought behind any temporary weather-related closures of the Parkway. These closures can be fast-changing and are updated on our park information line at (828) 298 0398.

In addition...

NORTH CAROLINA

Milepost 367.6 to 355.3 – Asheville Area

A rockslide and roadway failure has closed the Parkway to all activities including foot traffic and bicycling between the entrance to Craggy Gardens Picnic Area and the entrance to Mt. Mitchell State Park.  The picnic area is accessible driving north from the Asheville area and the state park is accessible via the NC Highway 80 entrance to the Parkway.   This road closure will remain in effect until late spring 2009.

Milepost 285.5 to 291.8 – Boone/Blowing Rock Area

Goshen Creek Bridge repair has closed the Parkway between US Route 421 east of Boone, NC and US Route 321 south of Boone. The detour will begin for visitors traveling south at milepost 285.5, Bamboo Gap. Visitors will follow state road (SR) 1514 Bamboo Road to Deerfield Road, following the detour signs along US Route 321 south of Boone then connecting back to the Parkway at milepost 291.8. 

Visitors traveling north will begin the detour at milepost 291.8, intersection US Route 321; follow the detour signs along US321 to state route 1514 Deerfield Road to Bamboo Road which will bring them back to the Parkway at milepost 285.5.  The total detour is estimated to be approximately 8 miles. Bridge repair is anticipated to be complete by late December 2008.

Milepost 223-225 – Near NC/VA Line

Pine Creek Bridge repair has closed the Parkway just south of the Cumberland Knob Developed Area, milepost 217.5 and US Highway 21 at milepost 229.  The detour will begin for visitor traveling south, at milepost 221.8, NC state road (SR) 1461, Saddle Mountain Church Road and follow the detour signs to Glade Valley Road, then on to Shaw Town Road and then on to Mountain View Road connecting back to the Parkway at milepost 226.3.

Visitors traveling north the detour will begin at milepost 226.3, NC-SR1433, Mountain View Road following the detour signs to Shaw Town Road, then turning on to Glade Valley Road connecting with Saddle Mountain Church Road that will bring you back to the Parkway at milepost 221.8.  Bridge repair is anticipated to be complete by early October 2008.

VIRGINIA

Milepost 105.8 – 112.2 – Roanoke Area

Beginning in January 2008 and continuing until December of 2008, the Parkway between US 460 and VA Route 24 in Roanoke will be intermittently detoured/closed for repairs to the Glade Creek bridge. These closure will be in place between 9:30 PM and 5:30 AM and visitors will be made aware of the closures through local media and signs. The Parkway will remain open during the daytime hours, although with intermittent one lane closures.

Rockslide Closes Parkway Section

(Asheville, NC) Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis said that the concerns are growing for the structural integrity of the road just south of the Craggy Garden Visitors Center (Milepost 364.5) after a late February rock slide.

Due to unstable road conditions associated with the retaining wall failure at the steep slope across the road from Craggy Gardens Visitor Center, Parkway officials are implementing an area closure to all traffic, not only vehicles, but bicycle and foot traffic as well.

"The road section above the failure has become unstable and is not safe for travel, and we feel it is in the best interest of all Parkway users to close that section to all vehicle and recreational activity."

Engineering reports are still coming in, and an inspection by a Supervisory Park Ranger revealed that the area closest to the slide is particularly unstable. Thus there are orange barrels and cones to prohibit hikers, bicyclists or any activity to go into that area. Signs will be posted there as soon as possible.

At the present time, the actual roadway is closed because of debris on the road from Bull Gap at Milepost 355 all the way to MP 375, just south of Mount Mitchell State Park. After weather related issues (ice and debris from fallen trees) are removed, and after the Parkway officials receive and review the options for repairing the slide area, a decision will be made regarding road closure for the section from Craggy Gardens just north of the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area access road (MP 364.5) to just south of Mt. Mitchell State Park.

It is likely that access to Mt. Mitchell State Park for 2008 will continue to be from the north only. Craggy Gardens Visitor Center will be closed for the 2008 season.

From Asheville, barring any weather related closures, a visitor driving north on the Parkway will be able to travel at least as far as the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area, once the area is cleared of debris all the way to MP 367.6. The Craggy Gardens Picnic Area will open on Friday, May 9.

Weather

The Parkway varies in elevation from just under 650 feet at Virginia's James River to over 6,000 feet south of Mount Pisgah in North Carolina. Obviously, the weather can vary tremendously as well.  Check your favorite weather-related web site for the Parkway town closest to where you plan to visit.

It is always a good idea to carry an extra jacket or blanket and a few emergency supplies in the car. Be aware of weather conditions and approaching weather systems.

Your Safety

Dial 1-800-PARKWATCH in the case of an emergency.

Here are a few items that will make your visit enjoyable and safe while you're here:

While driving - Obey the posted speed limit, drive especially slow during rainy or foggy conditions, and watch out for wildlife. Be aware of tight, spiraling curves that help make the Parkway special and unique, but can catch the unobservant motorists (or motorcyclist) off guard. It is always a good idea to carry a few emergency supplies in the trunk of your car.

Driving large recreational vehicles - Large RVs are popular means of travel on the Parkway, but be advised that going up or down steep grades can be slow. Pull over often to let faster moving traffic get by. You may want to check the heights of the Parkway's twenty-six tunnels (mostly south of Asheville) to ensure that your rig will negotiate all of them.

While bicycling - Wear high visibility clothing, helmet and the required reflectors. Ride single file and well to the right of the lane. Especially during rainy or foggy conditions, watch out for automobiles.

While hiking - Wear good hiking shoes, stay on designated trails, and carry a few emergency supplies along with adequate water. Be aware of any approaching weather systems and avoid ridgetops during thunderstorms. Let someone know where you are headed and when you plan to return.

Traffic & Travel Tips

The Parkway is marked every mile by concrete mileposts beginning at MP 0 near Shenandoah NP and ending at MP 469 at Great Smoky Mountain NP. The winding nature of the Parkway and changes in elevation mean that large recreational vehicles will need to allow for some extra time. Personal vehicles, motorcycles, tour buses and bicycles are allowed, but no commercial traffic or activity is permitted.

Traffic can be heavy during the visitor season, especially on weekends. Plan on extra time during the busy season or, if possible, plan to travel during the weekedays.

During the winter, sections of the Parkway may be closed due to ice and snow. "An open Parkway is a safe Parkway" has always been our guiding principle, so thawing and refreezing on bridges or in shaded curves may keep some sections closed for extended periods in the winter.