Top Ten Scenic Drives in the United States

East: Shenandoah to the Smokies: Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Parkway cuts a two-lane ribbon of highway atop the rolling southern Appalachians of Virginia and North Carolina. The parkway runs almost uninterrupted—crossroads pass underneath the road or yield to parkway traffic—from the southern tip of Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Often riding the very crest of the Blue Ridge, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers a unique vista; as great, foggy masses of weather move in from the west, the east retains a clear view of forest and wildlife. Most of the drive takes place high above human settlements—no fast-food oases or billboards to obstruct the scenery—but the land below the parkway is dotted with mountain villages and visitor centers.

Just the Facts

Route: South from Rockfish Gap, Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains National Parks, North Carolina

Length: 469 miles (two days)

Season: Spring through fall

Features and activities: Folk Art Center's traditional mountain crafts and music, biking along the parkway, and hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

More scenic driving:


Great Smoky Mountains


North Carolina

More on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina


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