By Nathan Ham
With the weather slowly starting to warm up and daylight lasting a little longer each day, visitors and residents will soon be charging out to the Blue Ridge Parkway to enjoy some beautiful spring and summer days.
On Wednesday April 3, the Blue Ridge Parkway will be hosting a special open house event at the American Legion Building from 4-6 p.m. in Blowing Rock, located at 333 Wallingford Road.
Parkway Superintendent J.D. Lee as well as other staff members will be on hand to share information about upcoming parkway projects, special events and other important aspects of the parkway.
“This is an event we started last year and we recognized that the parkway travels through two states, 29 counties and lots of communities within those areas. Those relationships between communities and the parkway itself are so important so we decided to take this step and do these open house events,” said Leesa Brandon, a spokesperson for the Blue Ridge Parkway. “Last year we did two, one in each state. We’re doing different communities this year moving up into the High Country and a second event at the northern end of the parkway.”
The 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway travels through several recreation areas and historical sites while offering some of the most beautiful sites of nature from the southwestern tip of North Carolina near Cherokee through Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, Virginia.
The main goal of these open house events is to connect with people in the area to let them know what all will be happening this spring, summer and fall along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
“We just want to give people some insight into some projects that might be happening on the parkway over the coming season, to learn more about how we plan for projects and how we make those decisions and learn more about programming that is happening during the season,” Brandon said. “I think it’s all about relationship building. Our relationships with our neighbors are so important and we want to keep those relationships as strong as possible.
Brandon said that staff members are already gearing up for the 2019 season.
“We will be opening campgrounds, picnic areas and visitor’s centers starting next week. All the way up to Memorial Day, we’ll be phasing in the opening of all of those facilities,” she said.
Some of the special events in the area include ranger programs at Price Park and Doughton Park as well as the music concert series held throughout the summer at the Blue Ridge Music Center across the Virginia state line in Galax.
Some of the information provided will include the following:
Parkway Basics and Background
- Parkway Visitation/Visitor Spending Effects
- Parkway 101/Parkway by the numbers
Visitor Use Opportunities
- Interpretive & Educational Opportunities
- Recreational Opportunities
- Special Park Uses/Permits
- Volunteer Opportunities
- Traffic Safety
Facility and Road Projects
- Upcoming Paving and Pavement Preservation Projects
- Bridge Maintenance Projects
- Cone Manor House Rehabilitation
- Bluffs Restaurant Rehabilitation
- Mabry Mill Rehabilitation
- Citizen Science Projects
- Vista Management & Restoration
- Blue Ridge National Heritage Area (NC)
- Blue Ridge Parkway Association
- Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation
- Eastern National (NC)
- Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway