As you could tell from my last post we drove part of the Blue Ridge Parkway last week. We drove it during the week (the good part of having a husband who has his own consulting business and can schedule things himself) and while it was busy it was not impossible to navigate. Yes, some of the overlooks were full. But the good thing is there are plenty of overlooks. There are around 200 overlooks so if you miss one I guarantee there is another one to check out that will provide a different and sometimes better view.
While the leaves are at peak at some parts of the Parkway there are places where they are not at peak color. Does it matter? Nope. At least not to me. Just being able to be out in beauty of God’s world is what I enjoy.
It’s always great to “know before you go” and the absolute best resource around is Blue Ridge Mountain Life. This website (check out their Facebook group as well) has some really great information as well as videos and pictures that are unbelievable. Larry and Jenn Deane are the gifted and talented people behind this website and I have to tell you – they are really the best at what they do. Give them some love and check out some of the many posts that they share on their website.
As we were driving I mused to Chris that I should write a blog post with some tips for driving the Parkway. Are they new ideas? Nope. Are they revolutionary? Probably not. Are they common sense? Yes. But sometimes it helps to have some ideas before you go. So if you are embarking on a trip on any part of the fabulous Blue Ridge Parkway as part of your fall foliage adventure maybe this will give you a bit of help.
- Start with a full tank of gas. Gas stations may be few and far between where you are going. Don’t risk it. Also make sure your car is in good shape to drive the mountainous roads. You do not want to get a flat tire or break down if you can avoid it.
2. Obey speed limits. They are there for a reason. Most of the Parkway is 45 mph. Some places it drops to 35 mph. There is a reason for that. Not only is it safer to go the speed limit, it also allows you to enjoy the scenery a bit more.
3. Watch out for bicyclists and motorcycles. They are everywhere, especially now. Do. Not. Pass. Wait until there is a safe way to pass. It is too scary for all involved to see cars whipping around bikes on blind corners.
4. Pack a Lunch. While there are places you can find to get a meal along the route there are limitless places to safely pull off to have a picnic. Seriously, isn’t what a trip like this is all about? Taking it all in? We found a lovely picnic area by a river complete with fly fisher people which was the perfect place for our picnic lunch.
5. Overlook full? Go to the next one. Don’t be a jerk and park where you aren’t supposed to park. Everyone, and I mean everyone, wants to have that perfect picture of the fall foliage but it isn’t worth parking where you are not supposed to park. If you are blocking someone in or parking in areas that are marked for No Parking – Watershed, you are just being a jerk. Don’t do it.
6. Expect the unexpected. Sometimes we find that our best days are the ones that are unscripted. While we went with a tentative itinerary of what we wanted to see and where we wanted to go we switched it up a bit and changed which allowed us to see something different than planned. It’s all good. Be flexible. Allow yourself time to do whatever strikes your fancy.
7. Enjoy the trails, the views and the people you encounter along the way. I think it is safe to say that Covid has changed us all in some way. Being able to be out in nature safely makes me so happy and judging from the faces of others it makes most people happy. Offer to take a picture of a couple who is trying, unsuccessfully, to take a selfie. They will be able to take home a nice memory of someone being kind. Being outside in the open air lends itself to being a bit more sociable than we have been able to be and there are a lot of people who like to share their stories. Be open to that if you want to be. You might learn something new and fun.
So none of these tips are really original but maybe it will help one person enjoy their experience a little bit more. Thanks for coming along on our trip and please – let me know in the comments about your fall foliage where you live. Remember that each and every comment made on any blog post on It’s Just Life this month means a 50 cent donation to our Comments for a Cause – The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.