June, 2007: Here are things we explored along the Blue Ridge Parkway from mileposts 199-85, heading north toward Shenandoah National Park, mileposts getting smaller.
Mt. Airy, NC (“Mayberry USA”)
Andy Griffith’s hometown and inspiration for the idealistic town of “Mayberry.” Visit the Andy Griffith Collection, squad car tours, regional museum, Floyd’s Barbershop, Wally Service Station, historic downtown, Andy Griffith Playhouse and homeplace, Pilot Mountain State Park, historic homes & the world’s largest open-face granite quarry. Bluegrass shows/jams weekly. VisitMayberry.com for visitor information.
I have always loved Andy Griffith and had heard about this town during the northbound part of our trip. But by the time we got up that far, we didn’t have time for this side trip 12 miles off the Parkway since my mom had plane reservations from Richmond and we had to press on to make them. I made it back here on my southbound trek and I was so sorry my mom had missed it because I know she would have loved it as much as I did.
I tried twice to get into Snappy Lunch for one of their famous pork chop sandwiches, but they were closed both times. But I really enjoyed dining at Barney’s – they had one of the best old-fashioned hamburgers I’ve ever had and the breaded potato wedges were to die for!
I have to say the people in this town are some of the friendliest I’ve ever met anywhere. They made some of the not-so-nice experiences I had here turn out pretty nice after all. First, it rained the entire time during my visit, but it was much needed rain here, so I didn’t gripe. But when I drove into town on my last day here, for some strange reason, my windshield wiper on the car’s driver’s side had become wedged underneath the other side and when I turned it on, it made a horrible noise and bent the arm. I made it to Advance Auto Parts and when I asked about ordering a new arm, was told it would take a few days to get here and I was planning on leaving the next day. The manager, Josh, called around and tried to find one in town, but with no luck. Despite the store being really busy, this angel then went out in the rain, worked on it until he could bend the arm back into place, replaced the blade, and I was on my way safely. Andy would be proud!
114 Bunker Road — Mt. Airy, NC — 336-789-6199
I stayed here on the southbound part of the Parkway tour in October, 2007. I was ready to finally explore Mt. Airy and this campground was brand spanking new. I truly loved my stay here, especially meeting the owner, Benny, and some of his great family helping running it. It will be fun to watch this park grow and change with all Benny has planned.
Pilot Mountain State Park
1792 Pilot Knob Park Road — Pinnacle, NC — 336-325-2355
On the return trip, I visited this beautiful park while I was staying in Mt. Airy. It is about 14 miles south of there and is really worth the day trip. This famous knob can be seen from miles around and was used as a landmark by the Indians. They called it “The Great Guide” or “Pilot” – with it rising 1,400 feet above the valley floor, it couldn’t be missed.
There are several trails and I wasn’t feeling up to strenuous that day, but was glad I went a little ways down Ledge Springs Trail. The views were amazing enough, but then I came across a church group who were teaching kids how to rappel.
Rhyne, age 14, got tired of the traditional way quickly, and went down face first. My heart was in my throat and the pucker factor was high just watching him!
I wanted to check out the campground but didn’t see any sites either big enough or level enough to accommodate my motorhome. It’s a little more than a mile from the campground to the top, and I definitely discourage trying to do that in an RV – not only is it a small winding road, there’s a pretty constant 10% grade!
We were fascinated by this tiny rustic cabin where midwife “Aunt” Orelena Hawks Puckett lived during the last years of her long life. Born in 1837, she delivered babies until her death in 1939 at age 102. She never lost a mother or child through her own fault, but none of her own 24 children lived beyond infancy.
Looking through these pictures again, I noticed how much worse my mom’s knee was getting now, looking more and more crooked, despite past surgery etc. She was 81 years old here and even though it pained her to walk, she was always game for exploring!
Although the Parkway crosses the NC-VA state line at Milepost, 216.9, this was the first attraction we saw in the VA part. Listing of Virginia Experiences by Milepost from Blue Ridge Parkway.org.
Meadows of Dan Campground
2182 Jeb Stuart Hwy — Meadows of Dan, VA — 276-952-2292
This was an overnight stay I picked to be close to nearby Mabry Mill so we could get there in the morning when my mom had less trouble walking. The pull throughs are out in the open on a very scenic hilltop. Verizon cell phone and air card reception was not good. I was able to make one call, but then never could connect again. Maybe it was weather related because it did get cloudy.
The wooded section is down the hill with more space between the sites. If not for the Verizon problem, I could stay for a week to explore around here.
RVParkReviews.com – What other campers say about Meadows of Dan.
The sign here says that Mabry Mill is the most photographed spot on the Parkway and I can see why. I certainly took my fair share of pics here, that’s for sure. We really enjoyed ourselves here and there’s a lot to see replicating life in rural Appalachia.
This is the picture my friend, Julianne Crane, used for an article she did about our trip: Mom, Daughter Tackle Blue Ridge. When I showed it to mom, she was thrilled and told all her friends that now she was famous. 🙂
The Mill is right off the road and there was easy RV parking there.
When mom got too tired of getting in and out the RV, she still could fill her eyes with views like these afforded from the many pull offs alongside the road. I loved how you could get up close and personal with the views even in a big motorhome. Sometimes I’d come back into the motorhome after taking pictures, and she’d exclaim, “I just can’t believe this!”
We liked how the signs at the stops gave us tidbits of info about the names of the views – like this one of Buffalo Mountain. This hump served as a familiar landmark to local residents and mothers would warn their children not to go far enough out so they couldn’t see the “buffalo.”
Rocky Knob Campground
1670 Blue Ridge Pkwy. — Floyd, VA — 540-745-9664
It was too early for an overnight stop at the time we came through when northbound in the summer of 2007, but we drove through the campground just to check it out. It looked so nice, I made it a point to stay on the way back south in October.
That’s when I met Roger and Linda, a couple of really nice camp hosts who had been coming here since the 70s and hosting the last three years, so they really knew the area. Roger was always ready to help out a fellow camper, with his motto, “This ain’t no WalMart parking lot.” I hope they’re here next time I’m on the Parkway since meeting folks like this is one of the joys of RVing! It was Halloween time and I really got a kick out of them adding “G” to their Host sign. 🙂
The campground has 109 sites in 4 loops: Loop T is designated for RVs only (28 sites). A&B have the smallest sites and are mostly for tents. Loop C can fit some RVs, but they don’t allow generator use there.
Roanoke Mountain Campground
(now Roanoke Mountain Picnic Area)
This still shows on the Parkway Map as a campground, but it’s closed now. National Park Planner: The Roanoke Mountain Picnic Area is the former Roanoke Mountain Campground, which was closed a few years ago and finally reopened as a day use area. Music Series Info
I stayed here in 2007 twice – when I was headed northbound in July and again when I headed south in October. So I’m glad I have pictures of history of when it was still a campground. I heard from the camp host at the time that it was the least used campground on the Parkway. We explored nearby Virginia’s Explore Park from here, so I’m sorry we lost such a convenient campground.
Virginia’s Explore Park
July 2007: We really enjoyed our full day here since there was so much to see and such diversity of cultures and time periods you could experience all in one place.
Here’s mom chatting with Interpreter Kimberly on the porch of the Hofauger Farmstead.
September 2017: As I was updating this page, I saw this park is no longer privately owned and that has meant a lot of changes. It will never be the same, so I’m glad I documented our visit back then. Here’s link to that.
Peaks of Otter Campground
10454 Peaks Rd. — Bedford, VA — 540-586-7321
July, 2007: Here’s me coming down the road between two pull throughs. On the way north, I was trying to decide whether to stay here or go up the road a bit more to Otter Creek. But even though it’s higher in elevation than Otter Creek and therefore cooler, it was still too hot for me. And since neither my cell phone nor air card worked here, I pressed on to see what it was like at Otter Creek. On the return trip south, I stopped again to see if I could get Verizon service here, but while I was able to connect in many places along the parkway with it that I couldn’t on the way north (like right up the road at the visitor’s center) I still had no luck here so decided not to stay.
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!