July, 2007: Here are links and info on things we explored along the Blue Ridge Parkway from mileposts 84-0, heading north toward Shenandoah National Park. Apparently I didn’t see anything worth writing about from where I left off on the last page at Milepost 85 until I got to Otter Creek Campground at Milepost 63.
Otter Creek Campground
I didn’t stay here, but just came through to meet another camper, Dianne, who was working here. It’s always fun to meet fellow RVers in person when you’ve only known them online.
This is site #48 in Loop A, the only one designated for RVs with no tents allowed in this loop. The camper here told me he checked out a lot of sites before deciding this was the most level and largest pull through.
Loop B and C are designated for tenters, but Dianne showed me a couple of sites in B that could accommodate a motorhome my size. However, permission must be obtained from ranger first, and no generator use is allowed in tent loops. Although the campground looked pretty nice with some sites along Otter Creek, with temps in the high 90s, I decided to skip this as an overnight stop, too. The clincher was no cell phone or internet access here either.
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park
16 Recreation Lane — Natural Bridge Station, VA — 540-291-2727
About 15 miles from the Parkway after exiting onto 501.
October, 2007: I had never stayed at a Jellystone campground before and if this is an example of a typical property and how it’s run, I would not hesitate to stay in another one. The owners, Margie & Maurice, are really nice folks who have owned the park for 6 seasons now. They said they’ve always enjoyed camping and that their favorite things about owning this park are the customers and the challenges of growing a business.
Sept. 2017: I was really bummed to discover that somehow I lost all my original photos of my stay here, so all I have are the small ones from the old website which are horrible quality no matter what I’ve tried from my limited photo editing skills. Oh well, it will give you an idea anyway.
Here I am in my home for the week during my return trip south. I liked how they didn’t have big spotlights to spoil the clear, cool skies brimming with billions of stars. I saw two shooting stars here!
This is the view from my front window. Those clouds lingering on the mountains were a welcome sight in the mornings. This area is open meadow, but there are other sites further up that are heavily treed.
The coolest thing about staying here for me is that I had my good friends, Helen & Bill Moll as my neighbors. I first met them in 2005 when they were just starting their own fulltime RVing lifestyle. I’ve met up with them several times and different places through the years now, and it’s always a special treat.
Natural Bridge, VA
I had seen beautiful pictures of this attraction and decided it was a must-see as part of my Parkway experience. I admit, though, that hearing it touted as one of the 7 natural wonders of the world I thought must be a bit of an exaggeration.
Therefore, I was not at all prepared for how awe-struck I was from the first glimpse of what nature and Cedar Creek created here. The stats, though impressive (215′ feet high – 55 feet higher than Niagara Falls) do not convey the majesty of the bridge and its surroundings.
There is actually a road that goes across the top of it! Its history, while interesting, also does not account for its fascination. Vaguely visible on one of the walls are the initials “G.W.” said to be left by George Washington in 1750 when as a young man he surveyed the surrounding area. It was once owned by Thomas Jefferson, who built a cabin on the grounds in 1803. Long before that, the ancient Monacans considered it a sacred site and called it “The Bridge of God.” This sounds like the most fitting explanation to me. I took hundreds of pics and none could capture how beautiful and majestic this creation is – go see for yourself and you’ll see what I mean.
Stroll under the bridge a short way and you come upon a recreation of a typical Monacan Village. See what their lives may have been like 300 years ago as you watch demonstrations of basket weaving or cooking.
Further along Cedar Creek Nature Trail’s shaded paths will take you past things like Lost River, Saltpeter Cave and butterfly garden.
I liked it here so much that when I met up some good buddies during my return trip in October heading south, we made this an outing. Here I am with my favorite Margarita maker, Helen. We’re at the end of the trail at Lace Falls, a worthy destination. She, hubby Bill and I really enjoyed our time here together. But this was within a batch of original pictures I somehow lost, so this little one from the old website is the only one I have. 🙁
I had missed the show they put on at dusk, the “Drama of Creation,” on the stop I made when heading north. Mom and I were just too pooped after our daytime explorations here. So Bill and Helen and I made sure we made time for it. Maybe we were a bit over tired, too, because that’s the only thing we were a bit disappointed in. We suspect that some of the lights were malfunctioning because it just wasn’t nearly as dramatic as the brochure made it sound – colored lights flowing across the bridge walls, symphonic music and excerpts from the story of the first seven days of creation from the Bible.
But it was pretty cool being there anyway when the artificial lights were out and just the brilliance of countless stars lit up the skies viewed through the archway – that was my favorite part and made me grateful for the drama of this, one of God’s most beautiful creations.
Either walk the trail from the visitor center or a shuttle will bring you within easy walking distance to the bridge. When mom was with me, she really appreciated the ride and the chance to sit and gaze at the surrounding beauty while I walked the nature trail. The complex here includes a beautiful inn, caverns, wax museum and more. There’s also plenty of room for RV parking in the visitor center parking lot.
Bluff Mountain Tunnel
I have to admit that even though I knew the tunnels on the main Parkway were all high enough for my motorhome, it always did make me a little nervous to come across one. But usually they were short enough like this one to see through, so I could get as close to that center line as I could.
Tunnel Heights from NPS cautions: “Please note that it is illegal (and extremely dangerous) to cross the center dividing line of the highway. If the minimum tunnel height listed does not provide enough clearance for your RV, please detour around that section of the parkway.”
List of all 26 tunnels (Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway): By milepost, giving length, minimum and maximum height, interesting facts and photos. This one is 13’7″ at the curb and 19’1″ in the middle. It is the only tunnel in Virginia.
Chimney Rock Overlook
Chimney Rock Overlook was one of our favorite stops.
We stayed and gawked at Chimney Rock Mountain overlook for quite a while just watching the play of the clouds starting to gather around the mountains. Even though we were near the end of the parkway at this point, we were still in awe at the gorgeous surroundings.No matter how much beauty we’d seen up to this point, gorgeous views in every direction are still breathtaking!
20 Minute Cliff
At our next stop at 20 Minute Cliff overlook the clouds were starting to get thicker and the casted shadows and misty movements made that stop even more interesting.
20 Minute Cliff serves a practical purpose as well as providing spectacular views. The folks in White Rock below know that dusk falls on the valley 20 minutes after sunlight strikes the rock face during corn-chop’n time in June and July. All along the way, we kept hearing about how unusually dry it was and we were just amazed at how green everything was even so. But since moisture was so badly needed, we didn’t have the heart to gripe about the rain. It was almost like the skies were echoing our sadness at the end of our time on the parkway.
A short path from Humpback Rocks Visitors Center takes you to the Mountain Farm Exhibit.
The cabin, a springhouse, cold barn, root cellar, and bear-proof pigpen all demonstrate Appalachian farm life and buildings of the 19th century.
We started counting down the mileposts when we hit 10 and both remarked how absolutely exhausted, but still exhilarated, we were at that point. Even though we tried to keep a reasonably stress-free schedule, it’s still not an easy task to “do” the 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway in a month. Even though we had hit almost all my “must-see’s” on the way up, there were as many I discovered I wanted to see after hearing about them from other folks.
I did find myself wishing I had set out in mid May as I had originally intended. But then I read that the rhododendron are spectacular in mid to late June, especially at Craggy Gardens. So I decided to hit that time period. But by the time we got there, we were told the really vibrant rhodos are the Catawba kind and they peaked weeks ago. It was small consolation to hear that this year’s show wasn’t as spectacular due to weird weather conditions. However, it wasn’t hard on the eyes to see the less vibrantly colored kind that were in bloom, along with the pale pink Mountain Laurel. They further decorated the views alongside the road and overlooks that didn’t even really need further embellishment.
But I also think the Springtime would be better, especially towards the end, because it got pretty hot in places (temps in the 90’s), making exploring some places more uncomfortable. I don’t know what it’s like in the Spring, but the roads and campgrounds sure weren’t crowded during mid June and July. Most of the traffic consisted of motorcycles – one local guy I talked to said he bought his Harley just to ride the Parkway on weekends. I agreed that would be a wonderful ride and a great way to see the road in a different way.
As I said before, the Fall was my favorite time since I just love the leaf peeping then! It was more crowded with more folks on the road then, but not so much that it deterred from the enjoyment of the experience.
End of Blue Ridge Parkway – Start of Skyline Drive
Before I knew it, we were at the entrance of Shenandoah National Park and Milepost 105 of the Skyline Drive.
There was no place there big enough for the motorhome to turn around without unhitching, so since we still had another day before we had to get to Richmond and mom’s flight back home, we decided to see at least part of it even though it was cloudy and drizzling by that time. I figured we could stop at the first campground at Loft Mountain for the night. Boy, were we ever glad we decided to press on – pretty soon we were debating whether Skyline Drive wasn’t even prettier than the Parkway!
We were pretty tired by this point after a month of travel and activity on this beautiful Parkway. There is so much to see and do all along the way, we were certainly never bored. Mom now says she sits at the computer and just watches the pictures float across her screen as she relives the fun times we had.
It’s all about sharing what we know with other RVers, so if you have anything to add about your stay on the Parkway, especially if you have updated info, I’d love to hear from you in Comments below!