Basics of the Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most visited units of the National Park Service and the Boone area offers some of the most spectacular views along "America's Favorite Drive."  Don't miss the iconic Linn Cove Viaduct, which is one of the most photographed spots on the parkway.

A Parkway Motoring Guide


Unlike the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway access is free. Campgrounds do charge for campsites (see camping/link).


The Parkway speed limit is 45, with some areas of 35 mph, and 25 mph in congested pedestrian areas.


Not everyone feels confident driving curvy mountain roads-and the Parkway is one of the curviest! The Parkway is relatively narrow with abrupt, grassy shoulders, steep grades, sharp turns, and new traffic challenges around each bend. Keep your eyes on the road-and pull into an overlook to gaze at the view.


Relax and enjoy the view...but. There are few passing zones on the Parkway, and the road is the best route to work for many locals. Even dawdling Parkway motorists may need to drive the legal limit to reach a distant hotel. Bottom line: Frequent overlooks make it easy to just pull off and let everyone get by. Please do not block traffic.


The Parkway slices through large tracts of national forest and animals frequently cross the road. Be extremely cautious near dawn and dusk when wildlife is active. Plan ahead so you're not "making up time" early or late in the day.


Turn on headlights in Parkway tunnels and watch for bicycles. If you're driving an RV, consult the minimum height chart on the Blue Ridge Parkway's tunnel page to be sure your vehicle has sufficient clearance.

Inclement Weather

Parkway signs admonish motorists to "Avoid Parkway in Fog, Snow, and Ice."

You'll never see fog denser than on the Parkway-at high elevations, you could be driving in a cloud. Best advice is to slow down or call it a day.

The Parkway often closes gates to deny access in snow and ice. If sudden snow or icing occurs, expeditiously exit the Parkway to plowed public highways.

"Beware of Sudden Icing" signs reflect that sheltered or exposed parts of the Parkway pose unique hazards in cold weather. Dry pavement can suddenly become wet in a shady curve-and that can mean glare ice in colder months.

In warm weather, a wet, shady turn can also be slick. And rain can make the Parkway's steep grades and sharp turns particularly tricky.


Expect cool temps any time of year. Even in peak summer, mountaintop temperatures are often 10 or more degrees cooler than surrounding valleys. Hot days are rare on the Parkway (upper 70s is usually the max), but it can be warm at the lowest spots (near 90). Summer days bring cooling thunderstorms, so a rain jacket and layers of clothing should always be in your pack. Nighttime lows in summer are in the 50s and 60s. Spring and fall can turn cold with little warning-snow has fallen on the Parkway in September and May. October and April are most likely to see the first or last flakes. Winter snows can be deep and snowy weather can last for weeks.

Safety on the Blue Ridge Parkway


Boots - Grippy running shoes will do on the easiest paths, but hiking boots are recommended for confidence and safety.

Water - Before drinking, treat all water from Parkway springs or streams.


Parking is available at trailheads and overlooks. You can picnic by your car on the grassy shoulder of the road, but be sure the car is well off the road on firm ground. Take valuables with you, or lock them in your car where they can't be seen.

Road Closures

Severe weather and rockslides may close portions of the Parkway without warning. Repairs and ongoing maintenance may also close sections of the road. To plan ahead, visit the Blue Ridge Parkway's website for the latest on Road Closures or call 828-298-0398.

Parkway Rules and Regulations


All pets must be on a leash (no longer than six feet) and/or physically restrained. Please clean up after your pet (bring some grocery store plastic bags for walks).


Do not disturb or molest wildlife. No hunting or trapping is permitted, even where Parkway acreage bulges well beyond the roadside.


Year-round and frost-free (during winter) spigots and hydrants must not be connected to RVs or used as cleaning stations.


To avoid attracting animals to your campground campsite, store all food in a locked vehicle. Litter and food waste should be promptly disposed of away from your campsite.


No open alcohol is permitted in vehicles. Registered campers and picnic area users can possess and drink alcohol until 9:00 PM.


All park natural and cultural resources are protected and off limits to collecting. Metal detectors are prohibited.


Don't litter. Trash and recyclables may be deposited at many campgrounds, picnic areas, other developed facilities and at trash cans in roadside overlooks. Recycling is a state law in NC. Trash bag dispensers are available at some picnic areas and campgrounds.

For More Information

For details on road closures and weather, camping, activities, bloom and foliage updates, referral to office numbers, request brochures, and more, call the Parkway information line, 828-298-0398, or visit the official website of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

In case of emergency, a call to 1-800-PARKWATCH (1-800-727-5928) will quickly summon help.

Also be sure to pick up copies of the park's seasonal magazine The Parkway Milepost.

For the best coverage of Boone trails on and off the Parkway, pick up FalconGuides' "Hiking the Blue Ridge Parkway" or "Best Easy Day Hikes Blue Ridge Parkway," by Randy Johnson, both just published in brand new 2010 editions in time for the Parkway's 75th anniversary.

Dive into our Interactive Map!

Zoom in close on the map below (use the plus sign and directional arrows at upper left, or repeatedly double click near, but not on, the map symbols). You can literally see the parking lots for Parkway destinations in this guide. Click any map symbol and information packed balloons pop up to describe locations all along the route. In the map balloons, click "Directions" to add your address and get step-by-step directions to Parkway locations from wherever you are. Start in the north, follow the road south, for a local's introduction to your own Boone-area Parkway adventure. 

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815 W. King Street, Suite 10
Boone, NC 28607
(T) 828-266-1345  •  (F) 828-266-1346
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