the Blue Ridge
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Blue Ridge Mountains
THE MOUNTAINS AND THE ROAD
Turk's Cap Lily
Blue Ridge Parkway
Between Rattlesnake Mountain Tunnel and Big Witch Gap
Any trip that combines three spectacular national parks is really a splendid way to see the best of the southern Appalachians!
Blue Ridge Parkway
This may be the most traveled recreational road in the country. Anytime on the parkway brings us spectacular views and wonderful scenery, however the most popular time of year has to be in mid-October when so many people come to view the fall colors.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is nearly 500 miles long, and ranges in elevation from 650 feet to over 6,000 feet. As with all mountainous areas, always check the website or call their information hotline before visiting. Call 828-298-0398 or visit their official website www.nps.gov/blri to check on weather and road closings.
Like the rest of the Appalachian Mountain range, this part of the continent was formed due to the pushing up and "folding" of igneous and metamorphic (hot and liquid) rock. The Appalachians look like a wrinkled blanket. This movement is still going on today. The Appalachians are ancient, and through the millions of years they have been there, they have eroded a lot. Originally they were much higher, but centuries of wind, rain, and chemical decomposition have worn them down.
The Blue Ridge Mountains form the eastern rampart of the Appalachian Mountains, between Pennsylvania and Georgia.
May is perhaps the best month for spring wildflowers of many type of wildflowers. Go to www.nps.gov/blri/bloom.htm to view a fantastic wildflower chart that shows the names, the months in which they usually bloom, and the Parkway milepost numbers that mark some of the locations of these flowers. Here is a sample: "Dutchman's Breeches - April-June - Milepost # 367.6 picnic area, # 458.2." Print out their wildflower milepost guide before you venture onto the Parkway if your purpose is hunting wildflowers. Keep in mind that Mother Nature has her own calendar, and that flowers may bloom a couple of weeks earlier or later than indicated.
During the winter some parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway are closed because of icing.
Warning: Black bears are often present in this area.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Please go to "Learn: Smokies" on this website to read about this treasure in depth. Warning: Black bears are often present in this area.
Shenandoah National Park
Located near Luray, Virginia, this is a beautiful park with spectacular views that must not be missed. The park was authorized in 1926 and established in 1935. It encompasses over 350,000 square miles of beautiful deciduous forest and lands. Its famous Skyline Drive Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
Like many other spots in the Southern Appalachians, this is a beautiful area with lots of wildflowers and wildlife, and is a terrific destination for anyone who want to go hiking. Skyline Drive runs 105 miles along the crest of the mountains right through the park. 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail lie within its boundaries.
Mathews Arm Campground (179 sites @ $16 per night), Lewis Mountain Campground (32 sites @ $16 per night), Loft Mountain Campground (219 sites @ $16 per night) and Dundo Group Campground (7 sites @ $32 per night) are all open Spring until end of October each year and are closed for winter. Big Meadows Campground (217 sites @ $19 per night) is usually open until end of November. 1-800-365-camp. There is also some backcountry camping available. Visit http://www.nps.gov/shen/pphtml/lodging.html to read about alternative lodging at this national park.
You must be prepared to pay to enter this park. Visit http://www.nps.gov/shen/pphtml/fees.html to get details. Warning: Black bears are often present in this area.
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