Blue Ridge Parkway Reopens in Areas Throughout the High Country

Published Friday, May 15, 2020 at 4:28 pm

As of today, the Blue Ridge Parkway that runs through portions of Ashe, Alleghany, Watauga and Avery counties is once again open to the public.

Restrooms, visitor centers, campgrounds, and picnic areas are still closed at this time.

Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Blue Ridge Parkway officials are increasing recreational access to sections of the motor road previously closed to motor vehicle traffic in North Carolina. The National Park Service is working with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access to the Parkway and park sites across the country.

Areas that are reopening include:

  • Milepost 292-296.5 near Blowing Rock, including Moses Cone Parking Area and Hwy 221 Bass Lake Parking Lot.
  • Milepost 298.6-308 through Grandfather Mountain area, including Rough Ridge and Linn Cove Viaduct
  • Milepost 316.4 Linville Falls Spur Road, including parking at Linville Falls trailheads
  • Milepost 334-342 including Crabtree Falls Area, near Little Switzerland, NC
  • Milepost 355-375.6 from Mt. Mitchell to Ox Creek, including Craggy Gardens
  • Milepost 377.4 Parking areas at Craven Gap (Town Mountain Rd) for MST Trail access
  • Milepost 384.7 Roadside parking at MST Trailheads at US 74A Parkway access ramps
  • Milepost 393-454 from French Broad River Overlook and south to Soco Gap

In addition, the following areas continue to be accessible:   

  • All Parkway trails, and
  • All other sections of the motor route in North Carolina and Virginia previously accessible to motor vehicle traffic.

“We are pleased to once again provide motor vehicle access to these popular Blue Ridge Parkway locations. We know the park’s recreation opportunities and scenic beauty provide important ways to connect with our natural environment during this time, and for many a leisurely drive on the Parkway provides solace,” said J.D. Lee, Superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway. “Our phased approach to the 2020 visitor season is focused on balancing the enjoyment and protection of this park with the enjoyment and protection of our visitors.  I encourage everyone who visits the Parkway in the coming days to recreate responsibly while here, whether that’s social distancing on park trails or driving safely on this beautiful, scenic drive.”

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continue to be paramount. In the coming weeks, the operational approach on the Blue Ridge Parkway will be to examine each facility function and service to ensure operations comply with current public health guidance and will be regularly monitored. Park officials will continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers.  

While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders in North Carolina and Virginia, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding, and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Park officials will continue to monitor all functions to ensure that visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19, and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.   

Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted at www.nps.gov/blri and the Parkway’s social media channels. Updates about NPS operations will be posted on www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

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