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How Long Does It Take to Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway?

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The construction of the Parkway was started in 1935. At that time, no one could have thought it to become so much popular. Soon after the construction, people started making trips with their friends and families through the 469 miles of scenic roads. The place is currently on almost every list of America’s most picturesque roads!

A journey from beginning to the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway is simply incredible. You will feel like being transported to another world when rolling through the Appalachian Mountains!

How long does it take to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway? Stretching from Virginia to all the way to North Carolina’s Cherokee, the Parkway is one of the most scenic thoroughfares in the United States. The entire route is a multi-day drive, and you can take several day trips to visit the popular attractions.

The picturesque Parkway offers charming scenery all the way. Driving on this road is more fun because the speed limit is 45 and no big trucks are allowed on it. A trip through the blue ridge parkway offers a relaxed, fun, and refreshing experience, whether you are traveling solo or in a group.

Knowing the Blue Ridge Parkway driving times is necessary to plan a trip there. Learn the timing, the best course to take, and the must-visit attractions if you are interested in traveling there.

How Long to Drive Blue Ridge Parkway? The Shortest Time.

Being a National Parkway and the longest linear park in America, the landscaped highway thoroughfare is a highly visited place. Hundreds of thousands of people — both Americans and foreigners — take a drive along this route when the weather is favorable.

blue ridge parkway road trip
An entrance to the Parkway.

Connecting the Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Parkway runs for 469 miles through twenty-nine counties of Virginia and North Carolina. The route mostly stretches along the Blue Ridge mountain chain.

With the speed limit of 45, the shortest time to cross the Parkway is—ten and a half hours or 12 hours, rounding up for the areas imposing slower speed limits.

Of course, this timing is just hypothetical. In fact, there are a couple of problems in this schedule. First of all, sitting inside a car or on a motorcycle for such a long time without any break will take a test of your patience and the back.

Secondly, there’s no gas station on the roads. You will need to leave the Parkway, and this little break could be longer should you take the wrong exit. Also, you will need to spend time for eating, whether you have packed lunch from home or go to any of the restaurants near the Parkway.

Other unique problems that you are likely to face in the summertime are the crowds and the low-speed limits due to excessive traffic.

You have to have several cans of gas to cover the total distance and take no refreshment or toilet break. Plus, there have to be miracles to get a zero-traffic scenario. So, it’s impossible to cross the Parkway within this time frame.

How Long Does It Take to Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway?

So, what is the actual timing of driving the blue ridge parkway? You can cover the entire Parkway within a single day. But, it’s not recommended since such a hasty trip won’t give you enough time to soak the beauty of the place. So if you are a full time RVer, please take your time to enjoy exotic landscapes during this incredible road trip.

Well, if just want to cover from end to end without taking long breaks or visiting the popular spots, it will take 18 to 20 hours. When the weather is nice, the weekdays are likely to have three hours of traffic and you can add another three hours during the weekend. Bad weather will reduce traffic, but you have to drive slower than usual.

If you want to enjoy the scenic beauty of the route, visit the attractions, and take proper breaks for refreshments and night stays, it will take at least three days to cross the Parkway. Want to visit all the sites along the way? It will take at least a week or even more.

driving the blue ridge parkway
The trip could be a week-long journey.

In fact, most people divide their Blue Ridge Parkway road trip into several parts. Make a plan for a complete trip and break it into several parts. Cover one section at a time and you can always return sometime later to explore the rest.

You can divide the landscape along the byway into four distinct sections—the Ridge, Plateau, Highlands, and Pisgah regions. The first two regions are in Virginia, and North Carolina accommodates the other two. You can plan your trip around these four sections too. It may take a couple of vacations to travel over all four regions.

Traveling along Skyline Divide in Shenandoah National Park and the entire Blue Ridge Parkway is such an amazing experience.

Where Does the Blue Ridge Parkway Start?

So, how long does it take to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway? From twelve hours to several days.  But, what’s the start point of this route?

In a broader sense, it starts in Virginia and ends in North Carolina. To be more specific, the journey starts from the Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive and ends in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

You will get numerous access points to enter the byway. Many of them are self-sufficient with restrooms, restaurants, lodging, visitor centers, and more. A number of access points are wheelchair accessible.

Is there any place that offers stunning vistas, fresh air, and tricky mountain roads? Sound incredible, right? Well, there’s one spot in the United States featuring such natural bounties – the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia. A complete or partial car or motorcycle tour in this national parkway is supposed to be the experience of a lifetime for anyone. So, how long does it take to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway? Is it possible to cover it within a day? Let’s find out the Blue Ridge Parkway driving times!

blue ridge parkway driving times
Take some time to appreciate all the views.

Where to Stay?

In case if you have decided to break the trip into multiple days, you need a place to stay, sleep, and eat. The cheapest option is to camp as there are a few campsites in the Parkway. The summertime could be crowded, so it’s better to book in advance. If you are looking for more comfort, there are two lodges that can help you out.

blue ridge parkway hotel
The Peaks of Otter Lodge has been serving people for over 50 years.

The Peaks of Otter Lodge has been serving the travelers for over 50 years. Located twenty miles north of Roanoke, VA, it has 63 rooms, a lounge, and a restaurant. It is open from April through early December and during the weekends in winter. Another option is Pisgah Inn that stands at Milepost 408.6, south of Asheville, NC. Offering the visitors a 5,000 feet elevation, it remains open from early spring through the fall season.

Things to Do on the Blue Ridge Parkway

So, we already know how long does it take to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. But, if you are going for a vacation, you should know that it is not about just driving from point A to point B. The views are breathtaking, attractions are plentiful, and fun is endless. It crowns the top spot as the most-visited unit in America’s National Park System.

Some Blue Ridge Parkway attractions are:

Camping.

Take the camping experience from May to late October in any of the eight campgrounds in the Parkway. They are always open depending on weather conditions. Even the RVers are welcome there, as each one of them has a dump station for motorhomes.

blue ridge parkway attractions
Campgrounds allow RVs.

Every campground is equipped with flush toilets, portable water sources, a picnic table, a fire ring, and shower and comfort stations. Due to their elevated locations, summer camping is quite comfortable.

Hiking & Scenic Walks.

More than 100 hiking trails are there suitable for amateurs to pro hikers. It has several challenging cross-country treks to some easy trails perfect for leg-stretching.

How long does it take to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway
There are 25 tunnels in the Parkway.

Visiting Sites.

Plenty of historic, cultural, and war sites are scattered across the Parkway. Some renowned spots are the Folk Art Center, Brinegar Cabin, Cradle of Forestry, and Mount Mitchell State Park.

Other Things to Do.

There are plenty of restaurants and lodgings if you are looking for a place to dine in and sleep at night. Fishing and picnicking are permitted in selected spots. You can also spend time visiting the music center, doing amateur or professional photography, or partaking in campfire programs and ranger-led activities. It is also one of the most favorite routes to motorcyclists and bicyclists. But, bicyclists must keep in mind the state and federal motor vehicle regulations because the Parkway road is designed for motor vehicles.

things to do on the blue ridge parkway
Cycling on the road could be a great adventure.

The Bottom Line

You should take at least two or three days if you don’t want to miss any single view. Could be one or two days more should you want to explore all the spots and the hiking trails.

It helps to map out the journey when you know how long does it take to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. Always check the road conditions and weather alerts before embarking on the trip. A proper plan and safe driving can make journeying through this gorgeous road as one of the most precious traveling memories of your life.

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