Nestled within the beautiful mountainous terrain of the Blue Ridge Mountains located in the Pisgah National Forest, is the Blue Ridge Parkway, which you can access from the Smoky Mountains National Park or Asheville North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Parkway offers many different beautiful and panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The elevation reaches 6053 feet at the Richland Balsam’s southwestern slope.

When we first started visiting the area, our visits seemed to center around the Smoky Mountains, and while we would drive the Blue Ridge Parkway occasionally, it was not on our list every time we were visiting the Smokies. The Parkway has grown on us and now we tend to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway every time we are in the area, usually once each year and sometimes more often.

The Tapestry of the Blue Ridge Mountains

The Blue Ridge Mountains were named for their blueish color, which is apparent when you look out at the mountains to enjoy their palette of artistic colors and beautiful views.

The tapestry of nature seems to change from hour to hour, so visiting in the morning will provide a different vantage of the mountains than in the afternoon, and the wonderful and unique smells that come with different weather patterns and seasons will change too. Every visit is completely different and beautiful in its way.

View from the Graveyard Fields Hiking Trail Loop

Exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway offers many pull-off areas to enjoy taking in the views of the Mountains. You might find people stopped at a pull-off, just enjoying the day, perhaps having lunch or a snack, or even reading a book, while they are surrounded by the scenic beauty and smells of nature around them. You might also notice hardcore bicyclists riding the Parkway, and visitors hiking trails.  And of course, those of us who just love to capture the beautiful scenic views in a photo.

Devils Courthouse

The Devils Courthouse may have been named due to the huge rock formation and how sinister it looks; or because as lore holds, the devil held court in the cave that lies beneath the rock. Located at mile marker 422.4, we always keep our eyes open for the Devils Courthouse as it provides a spectacular view.

The Huge Rock Formation at the Devils Courthouse

There is a trail that goes to the top of this huge rock formation which provides spectacular views of the Blue Ridge Mountains; sometimes you might even notice someone standing at the top. This trail tends to be steep and strenuous, so it might not be for everyone.

Graveyard Fields

The Graveyard Fields is located at Milepost 418.8 and has become a favorite stop for us when we drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Graveyard Fields were named for the haunting skeletons of ancient trees, in an otherwise grassy field. The overlook at this stop offers breathtaking views. There are also restrooms at this pull-off (this is one of the few areas with restrooms along the Parkway).

View of the Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Lower Falls

The Yellowstone Prong is the water source for the two waterfalls areas, which is surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. We took the hiking trail toward the Lower Falls, which is a beautiful hike that makes you feel like you are in a rain forest; after spending a little time at the Lower Falls area, just enjoying the scenery; rather than walking back up to the top, where the parking lot is, we took the trail toward the Upper Falls, although we did not hike to the Upper Falls. The trail loops around, and if you follow it, goes back to the parking area, which is what we did. While I do not know the distance of this trail, it seemed to take us an hour or so, perhaps an hour and a half. Since we were exploring and taking photos, and not being mindful of time, I could be mistaken about the time it took. There are other more strenuous hiking trails in the area for the more experienced hiker who loves hiking in the backwoods.

This path is going toward the Lower Falls and always reminds me of a wetlands area.
The Yellowstone Prong River is the water source for the water falls.

Good to Know

One of the things I find interesting is that this stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway is in Tennessee and part of it in North Carolina (I am talking about the portion of the Parkway between the Smoky Mountains National Park and Asheville, North Carolina).

We generally visit the area in Spring or Fall, no earlier than the end of April or later than October 15th, as there is always the possibility of inclement weather during the wintery seasons. We always check the weather before heading that way.

If you need to use your GPS, you might put your location in while at the ends of the Parkway, as it is very possible you will not have service along the Parkway.

While there is a Visitors Center on the Asheville Side (Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center on Hemphill Knob, and the Smoky Mountain National Park side off Highway 441 (Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee), there is also a Visitors Center in between the two Visitors Centers already mentioned above,(Waterrock Knob Visitors Center at Mile Post 451.2 that may not be open all year). They all have displays about the area, gift shops, snacks, and restrooms.

Waterrock Knob Visitors Center is at Mile Post 451.2.

We usually stay in the Sevierville area, Kodak actually off of Highway 66, which has easy access to Highway 40, and then take Highway 40 E to Highway 26 to Highway 191 to the entrance to the Blue Ridge Parkway, which seems to be about a mile down the road on the right side going this way. When I know we are getting closer, while still on Highway 40, I put Mt Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway in my GPS so that we are heading in the direction we would like to go as the Blue Ridge Parkway goes in two directions, one toward the Smoky Mountains and one the opposite direction toward the Virginia area.

You can also access the Blue Ridge Parkway by taking Highway 40 to Highway 66 at Kodak and following it around into the Smoky Mountain National Park (which is Highway 441) and taking it all the way down to the Cherokee area; the entrance for Blue Ridge Parkway is close to the Oconaluftee Visitors Center.

We stop at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitors Center sometimes, and sometimes we just head toward the Mt Pisgah Inn, which has a beautiful view, and you can purchase salads and sandwiches, munchies, sodas, and such. There is a nice gift shop with many exquisite and oftentimes hand-crafted items, along with many other items, jackets, t-shirts, and more. There is also a restaurant, which seems to be by reservation now (we used to be able to dine there, but the last few times we have been to the area, there has not been availability or a long waiting time), and of course, an Inn, where one could spend the night, also by reservations as they seem to be extremely busy.

Mt Pisgah Inn Gift Shop and Restaurant off the Blue Ridge Parkway

You will notice a Country Store close to the Mt Pisgah Inn that provides camping supplies and groceries, as well as snacks. There are also restrooms there.  This shop is geared more toward campers and bikers, although they have many snacks if you would like to grab a bite to eat.

You may find this information helpful if you are new to visiting the Blue Ridge Parkway area. This area has become one of our favorite places to visit as we enjoy exploring and spending time in nature, and the beauty it offers. We hope to inspire you to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway soon.

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