Does it ever seem like all your vacations are similar? Do you always go to the beach or go skiing? I have definitely been guilty of this. Spending a week driving the Blue Ridge Parkway was a trip very different than I had ever taken. I had been to the area before, but I had never gone with the express purpose of driving the Parkway. This trip was about slowing life down and enjoying the view. And the views were beautiful!
We started the trip by taking our motorcycle to Knoxville, Tennessee on a trailer. That part of the trip was around 500 miles on the interstate. That’s not much fun on a motorcycle so I was glad we were driving in the car. Once we started traveling on the motorcycle we were looking to ride slowly on the side roads. From Knoxville we headed to Little Switzerland in North Carolina. This was our jumping off place for several scenic (and challenging rides). The curvy, steep roads are not meant for people who are in a hurry!
One of the first rides we took was called “the Snake”. This was my first taste of a very, very curvy road on a motorcycle. It is located on Highway 226A in North Carolina and it is typical of the challenging roads that motorcycle riders are looking for when they come to this area. Thankfully my husband is a good and cautious driver so I didn’t have any concerns! (Not all riders are like that, which makes my mom wish we didn’t drive around on a motorcycle!)
After two days in Little Switzerland and the surrounding area we headed to Asheville, North Carolina. The drive there was beautiful . . . great views, tunnels cut right into the mountains and picturesque streams running along the road. We stopped often to enjoy the sights and we met up with lots of other people enjoying their own motorcycle trip.
Lessons Learned about Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway
#1 – Temperatures up in the mountains are a lot colder . . . plan to bring lots of layers that you can put on and take off as you need to.
#2 – Always pack rain gear. Yes, we had to use ours!
#3 – Take your time and enjoy the view
#4 – Enjoy the local flavors. Almost all of our stops were at local places and restaurants. We stayed away from the chain restaurants that you can find anywhere.
#5 – Plan your trip ahead of time. During peak times you might be hard pressed to find a hotel in the area you are hoping to stay in. I found a really good trip planner that gave me lots of great information about the area.
#6 – Don’t take gas stations for granted. It could be a pretty long drive until you find another one.
We had planned to drive the legendary “Tail of the Dragon” in Tennessee at the end of our trip, but had to cancel because of rain. I guess that just gives us a good reason to go back!
If you’ve driven the Blue Ridge Parkway, what were your favorite places to go?