The Blue Ridge Parkway

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So I finally visited the Blue Ridge Parkway last week. You can see from the photo how it got its name. I had always heard that if you have not ridden it, then you can't call yourself a motorcycle enthusiast.

I'm not sure I really buy that, but it looks like a spectacular ride. I was in a car during my visit, but I fully intend to come back with a motorcycle.

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At each Parkway entrance a directional sign indicates 'north' or 'south'. North, toward the north end of the Parkway, leads to Shenandoah National Park. South, toward the south end of the Parkway, leads to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Outstanding scenery and recreational opportunities make the Blue Ridge Parkway one of the most popular units of the National Park System. "America's Favorite Drive" winds its way 469 miles through mountain meadows and past seemingly endless vistas. Split-rail fences, old farmsteads and historic structures complement spectacular views of distant mountains and neighboring valleys.

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The Parkway incorporates several recreation areas, some exceeding 6,000 acres. These parks within the Parkway have visitor centers, camp grounds, picnic areas, trails and, in many instances, concessionaire-operated lodges, restaurants, and other facilities.

Building the Parkway through mountainous terrain was a monumental labor. Authorized in the 1930s as a Depression-era public works project, the Parkway was more than a half-century in the making.

It was the nation's first, and ultimately longest, rural parkway, connecting Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. Enduring standards for parkway engineering and design were pioneered here.

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  • I grew up in Chicago, and moved to the Blue Ridge - Smoky Mountains 15 years ago, there are many, many great scenic drives, we have written about many, including several on the Parkway, check them out for your next ride. http://theblueridgehighlander.com/magazine/highlander-archive/scenic_drives_in_the_mountains.html We are working on another one on the Parkway for their 75th Anniversary and the Tail of the Dragon. Hope you enjoy.

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