BLue ridge Parkway Itinerary
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Ultimate 3-day Blue Ridge Parkway Itinerary: Fall Roadtrip

If you’re looking for the most beautiful Fall road trip in the South, look no further and drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. It starts from the Southernmost end of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. You can easily cover the route on a weekend with a road trip through a 3-day Blue Ridge Parkway itinerary.

The Blue Ridge Parkway road trip includes everything travelers look for from small towns, tunnels, overlooks, campgrounds, cabins, bed and breakfasts, hotels and motels, restaurants, Picnic areas, Wineries, hiking trails, waterfalls, mountains, lakes, rivers, and other attractions along the way. This is one of my favorite drives during the fall on the East Coast.

Blueridge Parkway roadtrip itinerary

Blue Ridge Parkway can be driven in a day, driving straight through without stopping would take about ten to twelve hours, as it is a long day covering 469 miles! But you’ll want to stop at so many overlooks frequently, trails, and historic structures along the way so you should spend a minimum of 2-3 days driving the actual parkway.

If you don’t want to go hiking, I still recommend driving the parkway for 2 days. Also, I highly recommend spending one day exploring one of the national parks on either end of the parkway. Alternatively, you can spend a day in Asheville, North Carolina for a city break during your mountain road trip. I’ll give you some options for your 3-day Blue Ridge Parkway Itinerary.

Before writing the detailed Itinerary, let me answer some FAQs so you can plan your perfect 3-day Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip Itinerary.

Blue Ridge Parkway FAQs

What is the Blue Ridge Parkway?

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile-long byway that connects Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. The path of Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) was carefully carved to cut through the spine of Blue Ridge of the Appalachian Mountains.

After doing Plenty of road trips in the US, I must tell you — this is the one to add to your US bucket list, especially in the fall season. I am so glad I drove the entire stretch two times during the fall season and so grateful, I live near the Blue Ridge Parkway.

How Many Days Do You Need to Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Before we get into the number of days, you must know that it covers two states, Virginia and North Carolina. So, it is not a short drive! The driving time will be approximately 9-10 hours, from the North Entrance in Afton, VA to the South Entrance in Cherokee, NC (or vice versa).

But this drive is meant to be taken at a leisurely pace with lots of stops and breaks to admire the views, learn about Native American and pioneer cultures, and do some outdoor adventures.

Ideally, anywhere between 3 to 5 days should be enough depending on how many stops you take along the way to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Blue Ridge Parkway Travel Planner

What is the Best time to Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Honestly, it depends on what you want out of your drive through the Parkway. But In my opinion, fall is the best time to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. Having said that, autumn is also the most visited time of the year, so be mindful of the traffic.

The fall foliage is unparalleled and one of the best places to see the foliage in the South. During this season, the temperatures are mild with few showers. so, bring a rain jacket.

However, fall is the most crowded time to visit, which means it’s harder to find accommodation and the overlooks and trails can get busy quickly.

Spring/ Early summer would be the next best time of the year. If you are driving this stretch in summer then there are plenty of waterfalls and swim holes to explore on the North Carolina side of the Blue Ridge Parkway. You’ll also see some beautiful flowers bloom like the rhododendrons at Craggy Gardens.

But during the winter season, there are road closures on the North Carolina side of the parkway due to Snowfall.

When is the Best time to see the Fall Foliage along the Blue Ridge Parkway?

One of the best things about driving the parkway is that the elevation changes regularly throughout the drive. That means that you’ll likely see fall foliage at some point during the drive. If the high elevation points are past their peak, means the lower elevations will be colorful.

That said, the best time to see the fall foliage is late September through mid-October. This can change based on the seasonal weather patterns and timing. I suggest joining local social media groups and keeping an eye on Asheville/North Carolina Tourism to get regular updates on the fall foliage.

We drove it during the second week of October, before Halloween and the colors were just gorgeous. That said, I’d suggest driving through mid-October to have the best show of the colors.

where to start the Blue Ridge Parkway Roadtrip Drive?

While you can drive the route in either direction, I’ll be writing this Blue Ridge Parkway guide as if you were driving from North to South.

That said, in this Blueridge Parkway Itinerary, you’ll want to drive to Afton, Virginia, where the North entrance is. I did this drive when we lived in West Virginia and the second time last year from Georgia. We reached Afton the night before to start the Blue Ridge Parkway fall road trip the next day morning. Make sure when planning your trip, you allot the right amount of time for getting to the entrance.

Blueridge Parkway Roadtrip
Sunrise over Blue Ridge Parkway

Flying into to Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway

The nearest (large) airport, Richmond (RIC), is only 1.5 hours from Afton, so this is most likely your best bet if flying. If you are starting from the South to the North, Asheville/Greensboro is the nearest airport. But flights can be very expensive to fly to these regional airports.

Instead, airports in Washington DC, or Charlottesville, Virginia are your best bet on the Virginia side of the parkway. On the North Carolina side, you should consider Charlotte, North Carolina, or Atlanta, GA airports. It will be practical to rent a car from the arrival airport and return it at your departure airport.

Navigating the Blue Ridge Parkway

The most important part of driving the Blue Ridge Parkway is understanding and preparing for the navigation. Once you’re on the road, mileposts denote the stops along the way instead of physical addresses.

So, make sure you plan and look into what stops you’re interested in. That way when you drive, you can be on the lookout for those specific mile markers. otherwise, you’ll end up driving right past them!

To help avoid this, download a Google map of the area offline. I also recommend first stopping at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center to grab the Physical Map of the Blue Ridge Parkway Roadtrip, this way you can easily identify your points of interest. You can also download it in advance online from the NPS website.

Another thing to be aware of before embarking on your Blueridge Parkway Road trip is that sometimes there are road closures due to construction, natural roadblocks, and weather. So, consult the official National Park Service site for the most updated information.

3 Day Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip Itinerary and Attractions

Aside from admiring all the pretty mountain views (especially in the fall), there are plenty of activities along the drive and the surrounding towns. There are hiking trails, waterfalls, historic buildings, museums, farms, and other outdoor activities. You’ll find a mix of everything in this 3-day Blue Ridge Parkway itinerary.

Skyline drive before Blue Ridge Parkway
Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

Road Trip Blue Ridge Parkway 3 Day Itinerary

In this post, I will give you an itinerary for driving the Blue Ridge Parkway in 3 days (one way) based on my Personal experience. Keep the 4th day for your return trip! If you want a deeper experience in the cities and towns on the way then add additional time for more activities. You can also add National Park to your 3-day Blue Ridge Parkway itinerary before or after driving the Blue Ridge Parkway.

If you are driving during the autumn season, I recommend driving the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park before hitting the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you don’t want to drive the entire 105 miles of skyline drive then just enter via either Thornton Gap or Swift Run Gap Entrance on your way south towards Rockfish Gap.

Day 1 of Blue Ridge Parkway itinerary: Afton, Virginia to Fancy Gap, Virginia

For your first day, you’ll be starting at the north end of Blue Ridge Parkway and driving towards the south. Head to the entrance in Afton, VA. If you are driving through Shenandoah National Park, exit at Rockfish Gap in Afton, VA, and start your journey to Blue Ridge Parkway.

First stop at the Rockfish Gap Visitor Center which services both Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park. Grab the Blue Ridge Parkway map, hit the bathroom, and fill up your gas tank before your journey.

The first stop you might want to take on the Blue Ridge Parkway drive is Humpback Rocks Visitor Center and Mountain Farm at MP 6 where you’ll learn about the life of pioneers in the Blue Ridge mountains. The farm Museum outside showcases life in the 1890s, life without electricity, indoor plumbing, or electricity. You can see the ingenious way of living a simple lifestyle! Note that in winter, demonstrators are not present, but you can still tour the area.

You can also enjoy the Popular trails and hike up the Humpback Rocks Overlook or along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail for spectacular views.

As you drive to the next stop, you’ll likely notice many spots to pull over and admire the views. This 3-Day Blue Ridge Parkway Itinerary covers only the main highlights of the Blue Ridge Parkway, but you should stop at these little overlooks as you like when driving the Blue Ridge.

Blueridge Parkway itinerary

The next stop is the James River Visitor Center and Canal at MP 63. James River sometimes called “the river where Ameria began”, the scenic James was vital to the settlement of Virginia.

You’ll find Kanawha Canal Lock which was built in the mid-1800s. The canal had 90 locks along its length from Richmond to Buchanan, Virginia. You can think of a canal lock as a water elevator for boats. It connects two parts of a river that are at different levels so boats can travel freely. It is so amazing to see this innovation which is still being used today!

While James River Visitor Center is the lowest elevation on the parkway(649 ft), you’ll soon climb more than 3000 feet in elevation over 12 miles, which brings you to some great overlooks including Thunder Ridge Overlook at MP 74 (3950 ft in elevation).

Now, Take a slight detour from the Blue Ridge Parkway Roadtrip drive and stop at the Natural Bridge State Park. We stopped here during our return journey, so you can adjust it in your Blue Ridge Parkway Itinerary accordingly! But it is worth stopping here.

Natural Bridge State Park, Virginia

Natural Bridge State Park features a HUGE natural bridge made of rock. There’s also a river that flows adjacent to the trail. You can walk towards the Rock and hike the few trails. It will not take much time!

This is a great spot to re-fuel your vehicle and stop for lunch, Pick up your food from the nearby grocery store, or use the restroom. You’ll re-enter Blue Ridge Parkway off of Buchanan Main Street.

Enter the Parkway at Peaks of Otter Visitor Center, MP 86. The Valley is beautiful and has drawn different cultures through so many years! Take a short walk to Peaks of Otter Lake, and Johanson Farm, or visit Polly Wood’s Ordinary Inn from the 1800s. You can hike or take a shuttle up to Sharptop Mountain.

If you want to have lunch, this is the best stop. You can grab lunch with views at Peaks of Otter Lake View Restaurant. Alternatively, if you have already packed your lunch, there are picnic tables at the Peaks of Otter Visitor Center to eat. This gives some more flexibility on when you can eat lunch.

Peaks of Otter, Blue Ridge Parkway Virginia
Peaks of Otter, Virginia

Next, drive towards Roanoke MP 100-130. You can see the beautiful valley views and Roanoke River near the Visitor Center. Check the Roanoke River Overlook, Roanoke Mountain Overlook, and Roanoke Valley Overlook for spectacular views.

Roanoke is the largest metropolitan area along the Blue Ridge Parkway and combines small-city charm with big-city amenities! So, you can find many restaurants and other amenities in the town during your Blue Ridge Parkway Road trip.

Drive towards the Parkway and look for beautiful overlooks including Cahas Mountain Overlook at MP 139Devil’s Backbone at MP 144, and Rock Castle Gorge Overlook at MP 170.

Must visit on Blue Ridge Parkway Roadtrip
Mabry Mill during autumn

One of the most popular stops on Blue Ridge Parkway is Mabry Mill at MP 176. This was one of my Priority stops because it was just the quintessential fall view. This reminded me of the old era surrounding the foliage! Picture an old water mill slowly churning water from a stream with colorful fall foliage surrounding it! This looks straight out of Painting!

Mabry Mill was established in 1908 and still, it churns corn today! There is also a blacksmith shop, craft demonstrations, a restaurant, and a gift shop on the site.

The last stop of the day is Puckett Cabin at MP 190 where you can learn about a legendary mountain midwife Orlean Puckett. She delivered 1000 babies but lost all of her own 24 children in infancy!

That concludes day one. Let’s discuss some lodging options! on day 1 of your Blue Ridge Parkway Itinerary, you can choose to stay at Fancy Gap in nearby Cabins. You can check the options in VRBO.

Alternatively, stay at Blue Ridge Manor Bed and Breakfast (with breakfast included) or Motel 6 Fancy Gap.

If you want to venture far, stay near Hillsville, VA. Hampton Hill Hillsville and Comfort Inn & Suites Hillsville I-77 are the best options for a comfortable stay, not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway!

Highlights of Day 1 of the Blue Ridge Parkway Itinerary:

  • The entrance of Blue Ridge Parkway (mile 0)
  • Humpback Rock Overlook hike (mile 6)
  • James River Visitor Center (mile 63)
  • Thunder Ridge Overlook (mile 74)
  • Peaks of Otter, take the shuttle up to the Sharp Top Mountain (mile 86)
  • Roanoke River Overlook (mile 130-170)
  • Mabry Mill (mile 176)
  • Puckett Cabin (mile 190)

DAY 2: Fancy Gap, Virginia to Asheville, North Carolina

Head back to Blue Ridge Parkway to start the day. The closest access is Fancy Gap depending on your stay. Today is all about exploring the North Carolina side of the Parkway.

First stop of day 2 at Blue Ridge Music Center at MP at 213. During the Center’s season, musicians play traditional tunes every day on the porch. You might catch an outdoor concert here! There are exhibits to learn about the history of music in this region. Music is very important to this region, make sure to add it in your Blue Ridge Parkway road trip itinerary.

The next section of the Parkway Cumberland Knob MP 218 is special as it was first to be constructed back in 1935. Stop here to learn about the Parkway’s history. Stop at Doughton Park at MP 238 featuring a Beringer cabin, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Like the Virginia Portion of the Parkway, the North Carolina side also has many vistas, exhibits, and many interesting places to stop. As you progress, you will drive a high-elevation scenic road known as “America’s favorite scenic drive“.

Blue Ridge Parkway Road trip guide

If you want a change in scenery, stop at Cascade Falls at MP 270. It is a very easy and short hike with beautiful views. You can stop at E.B. Jeffress Park for a restroom break. It also has picnic tables if you are hungry!

Keep driving and stop at Moses H Cone Memorial Park and Price Lake from MP 293-299. Now you have reached the beautiful town of Blowing Rock! You can visit the Flat Top Manor, a mountain mansion built in 1901 by Moses Cone, a prosperous textile entrepreneur in the grand Colonial Revival style.

Price Lake near Blowing Rock
Price Lake, Blowing Rock

The estate encompasses forests of the 3500-acres including beautiful Bass Lake. Take the Craftsman’s Trail, a 20-minute loop walk around the Manor for the views. The fall foliage views are outstanding here.

Next up was, Price Lake(MP 297), one of my favorite stops on the Blue Ridge Parkway Fall Road trip. We had lunch at this place with the best foliage views! For a great lakeside view, keep heading south to Price Lake Overlook.

Linn Cove Viaduct Blue Ridge Parkway
Linn Cove Viaduct on Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

Take your time as you go through the Linn Cove Viaduct around MP 304. This 7-mile stretch was the last to be built and is probably one of the most recognizable attractions of Blue Ridge Parkway. The curved road and Viaduct are great for taking photos.

The area is surrounded by Grandfather Mountain. There are three great spots to see this viaduct as seen on social media. You can opt for the Tanawha trail from the Visitor Center or a short trail from Yonahlossee Overlook. Ans the most famous among all is Rough Ridge Lookout Trail. This trail gives unparalleled views of the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway.

Blue Ridge Parkway North Carolina
views of Grandfather Mountain overlook

Next, stop at Grandfather Mountain at Mile 305. You can either just see the mountain from the Grandfather Mountain Overlook on Blue Ridge Parkway or take a 20-minute one-way detour to experience the Mile High Swing Bridge. I was short on time and skipped it! But if you love adventure, go for it! This 228-foot suspension bridge gives 360-degree panoramic views.

Hiking in Blue Ridge Parkway
Views from Rough Ridge hike

One of the Parkway’s most popular areas is Linville Falls at MP 317. There is a visitor center and a few trailheads to the namesake waterfall, which is a three-tiered waterfall. The trails are easy but with short elevation gain. It roughly took us 2.5 -3 hours to complete all the trails. But it was one of my favorite fall foliage views from my Blue Ridge Parkway Road trip!

But if you are short on time, do the Ewins View Trail, which rewards you with a view of the falls only 0.5 miles from the visitor center. You can continue along the 1.6-mile trail for different angled views of the falls.

Restrooms and Picnic tables are available at the Linville Falls Visitor Center. If you didn’t get a chance to eat your Lunch, this is the chance with beautiful views.

If you’re visiting during the fall season, and interested in cider testings, stop at the Apple Orchard at Altapass MP 328. This beautiful orchard is nestled in between the Blue Ridge Mountains serving apple goodies including cider tasting. Makes for a perfect break from all that driving. But remember that the Orchard closes at 5 pm!

Next, on your 3-day Blue Ridge Parkway Itinerary is the Museum of North Carolina Minerals at MP 331 to learn about the geology of the area! You can discover how minerals have shaped the USA, from its first gold rush to today’s computer history!

Another Option is, hiking the Crabtree Falls near Little Switzerland (MP 334). The scenic 3-mile loop trail to Crabtree Falls is moderately strenuous and starts in the parking area for the old Crabtree Falls Camp Store. It takes 1.5-2 hours to complete but the waterfall views are worth it at the end!

Depending on the time of year that you are visiting, a stop at Craggy Gardens at MP 364 will reward you with Pink rhododendrons in early summer and beautiful fall views in the autumn. Take a Craggy Pinnacle trail (0.7 mile) that provides 360-degree views of the mountains.

End your Day 2 of the Blue Ridge Parkway Road trip in Asheville, North Carolina, where there are so many things to do including the Folk Art Center at MP 382 to see the traditional Appalachian and contemporary arts.

The main Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center at MP 384 is the best spot to learn about the history of the Parkway and the natural and cultural diversity of the area. 

For the night, stay in Asheville, North Carolina. This beautiful and artsy mountain town has over 80 breweries in the region and many delicious restaurants. So try them out! If you’re vegetarian, try Rosetta’s Kitchen or Spicewalla for dinner.

Options for your stay in Asheville:

Highlights of Day 2 of the Blue Ridge Parkway Itinerary:

  • Blue Ridge Parkway Music Center, Galax, VA (mile 213)
  • Moses H Cone Memorial Park and Price Lake (miles 293-299)
  • Linn Cove Viaduct (mile 304)
  • Grand Father Mountain Overlook (mile 305)
  • Linville Falls (mile 317)
  • Apple Orchard at Altapass (mile 328)
  • Crabtree Falls and Little Switzerland (mile 334)
  • Craggy Gardens (mile 364)
  • Folk Art Center (mile 382)

DAY 3: More of Blue Ridge Parkway or Choose Your Adventure

For your third day, I wanted to give you some options to add more flexibility to your trip. There is so much to do in this area near Asheville. Keep reading and choose any of the following options for your 3-day Blue Ridge Parkway Itinerary.

Option A — Last Strech of the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Last stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway is my favorite as it goes higher up in the elevation from Asheville to Smoky Mountain National Park. You can stop at random overlooks along the way or take a few hikes to stretch your legs!

Head back to the Parkway via the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center, at 195 Hemphill Knob Rd, Asheville. You will pass through Mount Pisgah at MP 408. Take your time exploring this high-elevation county. There are so many beautiful trails, picnic areas, campgrounds, lodges, restaurants, and country stores making this area a popular destination along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

But explore Biltmore Estate in Asheville before hitting the Parkway which is one of the prominent places to visit in Asheville.

If you love to hike, take a 1.2-mile trail to the summit of Mount Pisgah for breathtaking views. Then Stop at The Pisgah Inn, a hotel that offers an incredible mountain view of Pisgah National Forest! The dining room serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

Stop at the Cradle of Forestry, which is known as the birthplace of forestry in America. You can also take a short trail for 360-degree views of Mt Pisgah from Frying Pan Mountain Lookout Tower.

Pisgah Forest offers many waterfall trails! Take a slight detour and visit the Sliding Rock Waterfall, Moore Cove Falls, and Looking Glass Falls. No hiking need to visit these falls and the Pisgah forest offers one of the most spectacular fall foliage drives on the East Coast of the USA!

Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks and stops
Roads through Pisgah National Forest

Next stop, Graveyards Field at MP 418. It is a very popular hiking trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway and for a reason! During the summer you’ll see wildflowers and berries with beautiful views along the way! The trail is a moderate 3.3-mile roundtrip that will take you to two beautiful waterfalls, the multi-tiered second falls and the tall cascades of the upper falls.

If you don’t want to opt for the waterfall trail, take the moderate 1.4-mile RT, Black Balsam Knob Summit (6214 ft) via the Art Loeb Trail which offers 360-degree mountain vistas! It passes through a spruce forest near the beginning, then through the open, grassy, and rocky mountain meadows with wildflowers that make this area famous. I highly recommend this short hike!

Linville Falls, Pisgah National Forest
Looking Glass Waterfall, Pisgah Forest

You can continue along the Art Loeb trail after the summit of Black Balsam Knob to reach the summit of Tennent Mountain, which is another of the prominent open bald peaks in the area.

Next is Devil’s Courthouse Overlook at MP 422. The mountain’s views are easily some of the best of the Blue Ridge Parkway. You can see the bare rock that gives the stop its name! You also have a nice view of the surrounding mountains and valleys from the parking lot.

But the real view is from the top of Devil’s Courthouse, which is reached by a very steep, 0.4-mile trail to the top. Once at the top, you’ll get the 360° panoramic view from a stone observation deck! I visited during the fall, and the views are so breathtaking from here!

Continue driving through the Parkway and stop at Richland Balsam Overlook at MP 431 — Highest Point on the Blue Ridge Parkway! Sitting at 6,053 feet above sea level, Richland Balsam is the Highest Point on the Blue Ridge Parkway Motor Road

The surrounding mountains are covered in a mossy, sun-dappled spruce-fir forest filled with ferns, so the name! You can also take a short 1.3-mile RT trail that passes through spruce forest and is covered in yellow wildflowers in summer! 

highest point on blueridge parkway
Richland Balsam Overlook

Another must-stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway is Waterrock Knob and Visitor Center at MP 451, where you’ll get a nice panorama view of the surrounding mountains. Also, it features the last hiking trail along the Parkway as you travel toward the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from here!

The Visitor Center is the Parway’s highest visitor center, open 10 AM-5 PM from mid-April through October. A short 1.2-mile RT hike will take you to the top of the summit offering 360-degree panoramic views and blooming rhododendrons in the summer.

With the best views even from the parking area, it’s one of the best places to watch a sunrise or sunset. Due to almost no light pollution, Waterrock Knob is also a great place to stargaze on a clear night for a glimpse of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Blue Ridge Parkway ends in Cherokee, North Carolina. If you take a right and travel north of US- 441 N, you’ll reach the Oconaluftee Visitor Center of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Drive Back to Asheville via Lake Junaluska and Maggie Valley. Lake Junaluska offers breathtaking views at the sunset.

Highlights of Day 3 of the Blue Ridge Parkway Itinerary:

  • Mount Pisgah (mile 408)
  • Biltmore Estate near Asheville
  • Mt Pisgah Inn & Pisgah Trail
  • Graveyards Field (Mile 418)
  • Devil’s Courthouse Overlook (mile 422)
  • Richland Balsam Overlook (mile 431)
  • WaterRock Knob (mile 451)
  • Lake Junaluska at sunset

Option B — Visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park

My second option for day 3 would be to continue along Blue Ridge Parkway and explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Start your day with breakfast at Biscuit Head Company. It serves delicious biscuit sandwiches.

Then continue your drive to Blue Ridge Parkway and stop at the Richland Balsam Overlook at MP 431 and Waterrock Knob at MP 451. If you start early you can check other spots as I mentioned above Option A for the drive. But as you’re exploring the Great Smoky Mountains, it is worth skipping a few if you are not into hikes!

You’ll enter the Smoky Mountains through the Oconaluftee Visitor Center on Newfound Gap Road. I recommend stopping at the visitor center to learn a bit about the park, use the restroom, and grab the Park Map to identify your trails and waterfall maps or specific activities you would love for the day. Here you’ll often spot the wildlife along the road!

The first stop is Clingmans Dome, which is a 0.75-mile RT trail that goes to a tower outlook. It provides some stellar 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains. But note it is a very very steep trail! It will surely make you huff and puff!

Then drive North and stop at the overlooks along the way. You can see the Chimney Tops from the Overlook. If you want to stretch your legs a bit, go for a 3.6-mile RT hike to the top of the Chimney Tops. It is a moderate hike with a 1487 ft elevation gain but offers spectacular views of Mt. Leconte.

Smoky mountains Clingmans dome

You can also opt for a nearby shorter Alum Cave Buffs trail which is 2.3 miles out and back trail that passes along the river stream. But do note there is no cave at the end! It is just a rock cliff at the end but the views are worth it from here!

If you love waterfalls, skip the above trails and hike the Laurel Falls trail. It is an easy 2.6-mile RT trail and is paved most of the way. Since it is a very popular place to visit in the Smoky Mountains, it gets very crowded!

The final big thing to do in the Smokies is Cades Cove, a valley surrounded by mountains. The valley is home to tons of wildlife including deer, turkey, and many bears. You can get there by following Little River Gorge Rd toward the end. There are plenty of signs because this is one of the most popular spots in the park.

fall colors in smoky mountains national park

When you reach, drive the 11-mile loop road that circles the valley. You can stay in the car or stop to walk some of the trails. The speed limit is very slow and often stop-and-go traffic, especially in the fall! You’ll probably spend 2-4 hours touring Cades Cove depending on if you get out of the car.

You can Read More in this article: Great Smoky Mountains Itinerary

Call it a day and stay in the nearby town of Gatlinburg or Maggie Valley. If you have one more day in hand, explore the towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Sure, they are very commercial tourist spots, but it’s great for a day’s exploration! Alternatively, you can camp at Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a wonderful experience.

Option C — Explore Asheville, North Carolina

If you are tired from driving the Blue Ridge Parkway, take a break on 3rd day of your Blue Ridge Parkway itinerary and explore the quaint town of Asheville.

Start your day with breakfast at Biscuit Head Cafe for delicious biscuit sandwiches. They also have Vegetarian options.

One of the best things to do in Asheville is visit Biltmore Estate. This is the largest estate in America and comes with a hefty entrance fee of $80+. But it is worth to pay and you may want to spend the whole day here!

There are so many things to do in the estate, but make sure you make a reservation for winery testing(it comes with your ticket) and reserve a time to tour the house. You can tour the gardens, and beautiful conservatory for their rotating exhibit while soaking into the mountain views.

Aside from the Biltmore Estate, there are other fun things to do in Asheville including visiting the North Carolina Arboretum, hiking in Pisgah National Forest, and my favorite, Grove Arcade, Asheville River & Arts District. Also, must have Hole donuts when you’re here.

Finally, don’t miss dessert at Baked Pie Company where you can order a pie flight to taste 3 delectable pies with a side of vanilla ice cream. It’s delicious! And make sure to hop on a few breweries like Whistle Hop Brewery or New Belgium Brewing Company.

You can end your day with beautiful sunset views while dining at the Omni Grove Park Inn.

Day 4: Return Journey via Shenandoah National Park

If you are road-tripping and have your return flight from Washington DC/Baltimore, I recommend driving through the Shenandoah National Park before flying back home.

Shenandoah National Park is actually at the north end of Blue Ridge Parkway. So, you can visit it before your drive from North to South or add this at the end of your road trip.

Shenandoah National Park can be seen in a day. The main road that travels through is Skyline Drive, which ends at the beginning of Blue Ridge Parkway. Skyline Drive is about 100 miles long with so many overlook stops along the way.

If you don’t want to drive the entire 105 miles of skyline drive then just enter via either Thornton Gap or Swift Run Gap Entrance on your way up North.

Read More about it here: One Day Shenandoah National Park Itinerary

Tips for driving Blue Ridge Parkway

  • Make sure to fill up with gas every morning or anytime you see a gas station. I highly recommend filling up your tank frequently though having a fuel-efficient vehicle. You may not want to be stranded in the woods with no gas!
  • The cellular coverage in the Parkway is pretty spotty. Download offline Google Maps. Grab a free copy of a Map from the Visitor Center before starting your road trip.
  • Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway is great for fall foliage. It is a long multi-day drive with lots to see and driving times can be longer than expected! So don’t rush and give yourself a realistic driving schedule. Also, keep in mind days will be shorter in autumn.
  • You’ll pass through so many tunnels, and many have low clearance. Check heights before you travel.
  • Given the dense trees, the parkway gets dark before sunset and with it being a two-lane road it gets tricky when driving in the dark. I would advise you to switch from Blue Ridge Parkway to a regular highway if you want to continue driving after sunset to your accommodation!
  • There are limited restrooms on the way so when you see a visitor center, stop for a restroom break whenever possible!
  • If you visit the Parkway during the Fall, note that the North Carolina section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is higher in elevation than the Virginia section. Since trees start changing colors at higher elevations first, you’ll notice a disparity in the fall foliage along the drive.
  • I recommend packing a few Snacks, sandwiches, or ready-to-go meals for your Lunch. This way you can plan your drive without worrying about Lunch stops, it also helps to save money and time!
  • Blue Ridge Parkway is meant to be explored leisurely and without a hard plan. You can’t possibly cover every overlook, waterfall, or trailhead. So, take it slow!
  • Lastly, be responsible as a tourist! Flying drones aren’t allowed in the parkway. Keep protecting the natural and historical places!

If you have 3 days, this itinerary is perfect for you! But, even if you only have a 2-day weekend, you can cut off a few places from this itinerary and make it according to your interest.

Hope this helps to plan your Blue Ridge Parkway Roadtrip Itinerary! If you like this Post, save and share it! Pin it for later!

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