Blue Ridge Parkway Trip Report
Tour Ridden By: Jessica “Snuggles” Rakestraw and Darwin Rakestraw
Tour Direction: Cherokee, NC heading north ending in Waynesboro, VA
Total Miles: 469
Total Days: 15 (including zeros during the trip)
October 7, 2018 – 0 Miles
Darwin and I were dropped off at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and had planned on stealth camping around the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee, NC. However, there was no place to do so. We rode from the Visitor Center to a nearby hotel for the night.
October 8, 2018 – 27 Miles
Starting the Parkway from the Southern Terminus makes the rider tackle the steepest section first. The Parkway starts out with immediate climbs gaining about 8,000 feet in elevation within the first 17 miles. We experienced maybe two very minor descents all day. We stopped at Waterrock Knob Visitor Center at Milepost 451 for a much-needed break. We were however only able to purchase water at this location being told by a Parkway Ranger, not even a spicket could be found on the building and no running water was available in the restrooms (pit toilets). This Visitor Center boasts some of the best views on Parkway on a clear day. Unfortunately for us, we did not hit the center on a clear day. Most of our riding day was overcast, cool, and damp. We rode a little over eight more miles (most of which were downhill) to a spot we were able to stealth camp at.
October 9, 2018 – 50 Miles
From our stealth spot, we headed up an 11-mile climb first thing in the morning. We used pull-offs to take breaks and to catch our breath until finally arriving at milepost 431 at 6,053 feet the highest elevation of the entire Blue Ridge Parkway (Motor Road). We rode through several tunnels today as well with plans to end our day at Mt. Pisgah. The temperature dropped throughout the day and fog rolled in. By the time we arrived at Mt. Pisgah Inn and Restaurant at Milepost 408.6, it was raining as well. Due to the weather, we didn't want to camp (Mount Pisgah Campground offers is the only campground along the Parkway offering showers) and the Mount Pisgah Inn was full. We decided to ride several miles descending into Asheville, NC after eating at Mt. Pisgah’s buffet. That night in Asheville we celebrated our days’ mileage by meeting up with a few friends in town.
October 10, 2018 – 0 Miles
Stayed in town due to inclement weather at a WarmShowers host .
October 11, 2018 – 0 Miles
Due to continued inclement weather from a dissipating hurricane, we again stayed off the Parkway. Stayed with a Parkway Angel who housed us for the night and cooked us an amazing meal along with transporting us to and from the Parkway.
October 12, 2018 – 53 Miles
Started the day out with a long climb out of Asheville, NC. Stopped for an early break at The Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center at Milepost 384. We experienced an increase in traffic (both vehicles and motorcycles) due to the arrival of the weekend we passed by Mount Mitchell not wanting to stop and hike to the summit. We, however, did take a break at a nearby pull off further up the Parkway. We ended our day at Crabtree Falls Campground (fee site).
October 13, 2018 – 32 Miles
Started out the day with hopes of getting a second breakfast in Little Switzerland, however, most places were not open in the early morning and The Little Switzerland Inn Restaurant turned us away for not being guests of the Inn. Made a stop at the Museum of North Carolina Minerals at Milepost 331. Stayed off the Parkway at the Pixie Motor Inn in Linville, NC, however, this place was not worth the money or the almost three-mile ride into town. Ate at a local restaurant, Old Hampton Store & Barbeque that provide fair food, however, we were forced to resupply at a gas station within walking distance of the Inn.
October 14, 2018 – 17 Miles
Rode into harsh conditions with dropping temperatures, rain, fog, and sleet. Due to safety concerns, we pulled off at the Moses H. Cone House at Milepost 294.1 to wait out the weather. After several hours the conditions did not improve we made the decision to backtrack one mile and ride into Blowing Rock, NC. Once checked in to the Mountainaire Inn and after having coffee at Camp Coffee did we realize we had ridden over the Linn Cove Viaduct at Milepost 304.4 without even noticing thanks to the dense fog and rain. The Linn Cove Viaduct seems to be one of the most well-known and recognizable sections of the Parkway; we didn’t even get a good glimpse.
October 15, 2018 – 47 Miles
The sun finally showed its face today allowing the temperatures to rise. We were finally able to take in our views riding past numerous cow pastures and pumpkin patches. We visited several historic cabins and buildings along the parkway and enjoyed some relatively flat terrain a majority of the day. Stopped in for a snack at Northwest Trading Post at Milepost 259. We paid for a camp spot at Miller’s Campground (between Milepost 247 and 248) as it was a recommended stop for us and we were not disappointed.
October 16, 2018 – 47 Miles
Most of the day was rollers terrain wise; nothing incredibly steep but not exactly flat. The sun was out most of the day allowing us to again enjoy the scenery of various types of farmland. Thanks to the mild terrain we were also able to knock out most of our miles before noon crossing officially into Virginia. We ended our day at Fancy Gap, VA (Milepost 199.4) resupplying at both a Dollar General and local gas station. Fancy Gap offers several choices for lodging however we decided to stay close to the Parkway at Mountain Inn to avoid a coming storm.
October 17, 2018 – 50 Miles
We woke to cold rain and took our time. While airing up my front tire, I accidentally unscrewed the valve core from the air valve, which delayed our departure even more. Once back on the Parkway we were greeted to strong winds left over from the previous night’s storm. Headwinds were difficult to navigate pushing me off the road on several occasions. We made a stop at Milepost 180.5 riding just right off the Parkway to visit the Mayberry Trading Post; a true step back in time with amazing Fried Apple Pies. We continued our day riding passed Mabry Mill at Milepost 176.2 known as the most photographed spot on the Parkway. We stopped at Smart View Recreation Area at Milepost 154.1 to fill up on water before riding our last few miles of the day (restrooms there have running water). Riding on chipseal and against the wind seemed to slow down our day’s progress however we were able to still knock out 50 miles ending at a random stealth spot off the Parkway.
October 18, 2018 – 30 Miles
Although the winds had died out and the sun was out, we felt slow riding still on chipseal. We passed by several overlooks and took notice that traffic was increasing on the Parkway as we rode closer to Roanoke, VA. After riding several rollers (numerous ups and downs) we rode about a 6-mile descent as we arrived in Roanoke, VA. At Milepost 120 we stopped for the day after making previous arrangements to meet with up with a friend.
October 19, 2018 – 0 Miles
Took a full day off in Roanoke, VA to spend with a friend in town.
October 20, 2018 – 43 Miles
After being dropped off back at Milepost 120 we rode through a more residential area of the Parkway. We found ourselves within walking distance of neighborhood backyards riding out of Roanoke. We had several climbs throughout the day one being very gradual 6-mile climb towards the Peaks of Otter. We made sure to take advantage of the clear weather and stopped several times to enjoy the views at numerous overlooks. Once at the Peaks we stopped in at the Visitor Center and at the Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant (Milepost 86) to partake in a great buffet. The Parkway crossed over the Appalachian Trail several times within our day’s mileage and we rode through a tunnel, which we had not done for over a hundred miles. We ended our day at Apple Orchard Mountain (around Milepost 78) finding a stealth spot close to the Appalachian Trail.
October 21, 2018 – 50 Miles
Camping at around 4,225 feet is probably not a smart decision which we realized too late waking up to frost on the ground and strong winds. We had a 12-mile descent down from Apple Orchard Mountain down to the James River. We attempted to warm up at the James River Visitor Center at Milepost 63.7 however it was not open when we arrived (still too early in the morning). Riding several more miles we took a break to visit the Narrow Gauge Railroad exhibit at Yankee Horse Ridge at Milepost 34.4. We stealth camped around Spy Mountain Overlook (Milepost 26.4) due to being turned away at a Bed and Breakfast and dwindling daylight.
October 22, 2018 – 26 Miles
Woke early riding through more farmland and passing over the Appalachian Trail again. We had a few somewhat easy climbs to Humpback Rocks and our last few miles descended past the Humpback Rocks Visitor Center. Overall an easy descent to the finish at Rockfish Gap in Waynesboro, VA.