Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles long and runs through 29 counties in North Carolina and Virginia. It is America’s longest linear park and is named after the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are part of the Appalachian Mountain range. Haywood County boasts 46 scenic miles of some of the most beautiful parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Tourists and locals alike enjoy driving along the Blue Ridge Parkway, which offers breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, valleys and countryside. The Parkway is most popular in the fall, when the leaves begin to turn shades of bright red, orange and yellow.
The Blue Ridge Parkway (open year-round, weather permitting) can be accessed from four locations in Haywood County:
— US 276 at Wagon Gap Road
— NC 215 at Mount Hardy Gap
— US 23/74 at Balsam Gap
— US 19 at Soco Gap
Blue Ridge Parkway Closures
Check the U.S. National Park Services Blue Ridge Parkway Road Closure Map before traveling the Parkway for real-time road closure and condition information. Portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway are sometimes closed due to inclement weather, construction or rock slides, especially in the winter months.
A list of planned milepost closures for maintenance is available here.
Best of the Blue Ridge Parkway
The best section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is between Milepost 405.5 – 455.7. Arcing along the peaks on our southern border, this is the highest and most scenic portion of the 469-mile long ride and is Haywood County’s crowning jewel.
Blue Ridge Parkway Points of Interest
A short downhill hike (partly paved) leads to one of three waterfalls. A popular hiking destination, Graveyard Fields morphs into a wild blueberry patch in late summer and fall, so bring your buckets.
This section of trails includes some of the most spectacular mountains and balds in the Southern Appalachains, including Black Balsam Knob, Sam Knob, and Tennant Mountain. These treeless mountaintops draw people from afar due to their sweeping views and alpine appearance.
According to Cherokee folklore, the devil holds court in a cave on the mountain. A walk to the bare summit is worth every step.
The highest point on the entire parkway at 6,053 feet, Richland Balsam Overlook offers a beautiful 1.5-mile, self-guided loop trail.
Waterrock Knob Visitor Center sits at nearly 6,000 feet and offers exhibits, book sales and restrooms. A 1.2-mile, roundtrip trail leads to the summit of Waterrock Knob for an almost 360-degree view of the Smoky Mountains.