Spring has sprung, but in some areas of western North Carolina, it is still a work in progress, and that might have you feeling Blue… Blue Ridge Parkway, that is. With temperatures reaching into the low to mid 80′s over the last few days, green has become the dominant color on the stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway that runs from its beginning, at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Cherokee, NC, north through Asheville, and beyond.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is THE scenic drive of scenic drives. The 469 mile National Parkway and All-American Road begins (or ends) near Cherokee, NC, where the first entrance is for the Parkway. You can also enter the BRP from Soco Gap, outside of Cherokee on Hwy 19, just past one of the area’s most beautiful waterfalls, Soco Falls. From there, you can follow the Blue Ridge Parkway over and through to the Balsam Gap exit/entrance and drive back to Franklin on US 74 and Hwy 441. From the Cherokee entrance to the Balsam Gap exit is only 26 miles, but with all of the pull offs and scenic overlooks, you could spend half a day, or even longer, taking in the beauty that is western North Carolina. If you chose to continue on the Parkway, the first Asheville exit/entrance is roughly 60 miles from Balsam Gap. You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of gas, as there are no gas stations from Balsam Gap for those 60 miles.
The beauty of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s southern end is something everyone who comes to this area should experience. Whether you catch a stunning sunrise from Water Rock Knob, head up to The Devil’s Courthouse for the incredible panoramic views, a quick drive, or a full day, once you’ve captured a glimpse of the mountains and vistas on the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’ll want to go back again and again.
To get your journey started on the Blue Ridge Parkway, you can find more information on their web site at http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/ and for more information on the many other scenic drives, lodging, great food and fun things to do in Franklin and Macon County, please visit the Franklin Chamber of Commerce web site at http://www.franklin-chamber.com/.