CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Blue Ridge Parkway will reopen its gates for recreational motor vehicle access to the southernmost 14 miles of the park on Saturday, May 9.
The opening will continue to follow guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and state and local health officials, according to a release. The area was previously closed to help in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
“We are pleased to once again provide motor vehicle access to these popular Blue Ridge Parkway locations. We know the park’s recreation opportunities and scenic beauty provide important ways to connect with our natural environment during this time, and for many a leisurely drive on the Parkway provides solace,” J.D. Lee, Superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway, said in a statement. “Our phased approach to the 2020 visitor season is focused on balancing the enjoyment and protection of this park with the enjoyment and protection of our visitors. I encourage everyone who visits the Parkway in the coming days to recreate responsibly while here, whether that’s social distancing on park trails or driving safely on this beautiful, scenic drive.”
The area from Milepost 454 to 469, in coordination with the Qualla Boundary and Great Smoky Mountains National Park reopening, will be reopened to the public.
Additional areas will be reopened on Friday, May 15, which will provide access to the following locations in North Carolina:
- Milepost 292-296.5 near Blowing Rock, including Moses Cone Parking Area and Hwy 221 Bass Lake Parking Lot.
- Milepost 298.6-308 through Grandfather Mountain area, including Rough Ridge and Linn Cove Viaduct
- Milepost 316.4 Linville Falls Spur Road, including parking at Linville Falls trailheads
- Milepost 334-342 including Crabtree Falls Area, near Little Switzerland, NC
- Milepost 355-375.6 from Mt. Mitchell to Ox Creek, including Craggy Gardens
- Milepost 377.4 Parking areas at Craven Gap (Town Mountain Rd) for MST Trail access
- Milepost 384.7 Roadside parking at MST Trailheads at US 74A Parkway access ramps
- Milepost 393-454 from French Broad River Overlook and south to Soco Gap
In addition, the following areas continue to be accessible:
- All Parkway trails, and
- All other sections of the motor route in North Carolina and Virginia previously accessible to motor vehicle traffic.
Some areas will remain closed however, park officials say, in alignment with federal and state public health guidelines. Those areas include:
- Road closure from Milepost 0 to 13 in Virginia,
- Milepost 85.9 Peaks of Otter Visitor Center and Sharp Top Parking Areas closed,
- Milepost 92.5 Sharp Top Parking Widening closed at Appalachian Trail crossing, and all
- Seasonal visitor service facilities including campgrounds, picnic areas, restrooms and visitor centers.
Additional closures will remain is some areas due to road maintenance projects currently underway. Information on those closures can be found here.
Anyone visiting the open areas is asked to follow local area health orders in North Carolina and Virginia, practice Leave No Trace principles, and avoid crowding and high-risk outdoor activities.