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Thread: Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway

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    Senior Member moose135's Avatar
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    Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway

    I've been regaling you with photos from the CLT airport overlook, but that's not the only place I've been shooting since I arrived in North Carolina. I've made a couple of day trips along sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you are not familiar with it, the Parkway is part of the US National Park system consisting of a 470 mile roadway connecting Shenandoah National Park/Skyline Drive in Virginia and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, near the Tennessee boarder. The scenery is breathtaking, and the park includes numerous visitor centers, picnic areas, campgrounds and trails. You are never more than a mile or so from an overview or parking area, although parking is permitted on the side of the road in most areas of the Parkway. Construction was started by FDR in 1936, and the final section, which I visited today, was completed in 1987.

    Last month I took a ride over toward Asheville, NC and spent an afternoon covering about 60 miles of the southern part of the Parkway. The park headquarters and main visitor center is near Asheville.



    Views like this are commonplace on the Parkway. That day, a line of thunderstorms rolled over the mountains, and you could watch as the clouds crossed the ridge line and rolled down the other side.. At one parking area, I heard lightning crackling in the clouds directly overhead, and decided it was a good time to get back in the car.





    There are a number of tunnels cut through sections of the mountains. A few are just long enough, and have enough of a curve to them, that you can't see the other end when you are driving through them. There are no streetlights in the tunnels and not even the high beams cut through that kind of darkness.



    Near the south end of the parkway...



    Today, I headed up a little further north, starting near Blowing Rock (which sounds like it is worth a visit of its own), about 80 miles north of Asheville and working my way south. I was looking for some fall foliage, and to see the Linn Cove Viaduct around Grandfather Mountain. This is Price Lake.



    You get these ridiculous sights around every bend in the road - and there are a ton of bends in the road.



    This is the Linn Cove Viaduct - it was the last section of the Parkway build, finished 25 years ago, in 1987. To preserve the ecology of Grandfather Mountain, this unique roadway was build along the side of the mountain. Rather than cut a roadway into the side of the mountain, a 1,250 foot section of viaduct was constructed. Seven large pilings were built, and are the only parts of the viaduct touching the ground. The viaduct took 8 years to build, and consists of 153 segments weighing 50 tons each. The segments were precast in a facility near the parkway, and were lowered into place by a custom-built crane from the end of the existing bridge structure - no other access road was built.





    At the south end of the viaduct, there is a visitors center with a trail that takes you under the viaduct around the pillars so you can see the construction, and from there, you can go up onto the side of the mountain for a view of the viaduct. I skipped the trail, and instead followed the rest of the crowd with the big cameras. From an overview parking area near the north end of the viaduct, I walked about a hundred yards along a narrow path between the road and the drop off down the hillside, then crossed the Parkway, and climbed up a couple of large boulders. There were several folks up there shooting when I got there, so I hung around for a while until they were done and I could get up top. I think it was worth the wait...







    The leaves weren't quite there - there was some color, but it's probably a week or two from peak, so I'll probably head out again later this month.

  2. #2
    Senior Member megatop412's Avatar
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    Great shots sir! I remember my 1995 spring break road trip through there and was equally impressed with the scenery. My ex, however, was leery of the "Bear Information @ 710AM" signs

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    Beautiful pictures, Moose. How are you liking NC compared to LI?

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    Senior Member moose135's Avatar
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    Thanks! NC has been pretty good so far - it's certainly different down here, a slower pace, the people are freakishly friendly.

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    Senior Member moose135's Avatar
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    Sunday's forecast was for partly cloudy skies, and I took another run on the Parkway to check out the fall colors. Unfortunately, the "partly" portion of that forecast never materialized, but it wasn't a bad day in any case.

    I stopped at Linville Falls, about 10 miles south of the viaduct pictured above. This is the upper falls - actually, there are two side-by-side on that portion of the river. It's about a half-mile walk, mostly up hill, from the visitors center.





    This is the same upper falls, from an overview up the mountain, about another half mile hike. That's the overview where I shot the first few photos from.


    From there, the water runs down a channel and feeds into the lower, main falls, which are about 45 feet high.





    Up a few hundred more feet, and you get to the highest overlook...



    And looking downriver from there...



    Back at the visitors center, you can take a short trail to the Duggers Creek Falls. It's much smaller, and more secluded in the woods, with a footbridge crossing the creek.


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    Senior Member Joe's Avatar
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    Great shots moose! very scenic area and the fall colors are starting to show in one of the images. Is the area notorious for accidents? I would imagine a lot of people get distracted with that scenery.

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    Senior Member moose135's Avatar
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    Joe, I'm not aware that the accident rate is any higher than usual along the BRP. Yes, it can be distracting, but the road is in good condition, most people don't drive that fast (limit is 45mph in most places, slower in some, and you don't see much speeding) and I think most people take extra care driving through there. I know I do.

    Took another ride out on Sunday, jumping on the Parkway near Asheville, and driving to the southern end, about 90 miles.





    At the south end of the BRP is the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which stretches across North Carolina and into Tennessee.





    As I headed toward the park entrance, traffic just about stopped, and I thought I'd made a mistake going that way. It turns out there is a large field next to the road, and about a dozen elk were in the field, not more than 100 feet from the road, just lounging in the shade. Park rangers had the lane closest to the field closed, and were working to keep traffic moving, but we could park in the median and check out the elk.







    Heading back home around dusk, I took a section of the BRP heading back towards Asheville. As I was getting to the exit, about 50 yards up the road I saw a bear scamper across the parkway...

  8. #8
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    Beautiful photos moose

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    I'm loving this thread Moose! Almost makes me want to go to NC for scenery photos over spotting at CLT.
    Steve Furst

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  10. #10
    Senior Member moose135's Avatar
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    You come for a weekend, we can do both...

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    Quote Originally Posted by moose135 View Post
    You come for a weekend, we can do both...
    I'll keep that in mind! Will be a good spring trip.
    Steve Furst

    View my work @

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    Nice shots moose (:

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