June, 2007: Here are links and info of things we explored along the Blue Ridge Parkway mileposts 300-200, heading north toward Shenandoah National Park.
Beautiful Asheville, NC
This has got to be one of the prettiest little towns around. A week was just not enough, but at that point it wasn’t meant as a destination itself, but as a stop along the Parkway. I already want to return and give it more attention next time!
Where I stayed (June 18-23, 2007): A fellow RVer had recommended the KOA Asheville East as a convenient location from which to explore the things I wanted to see in Asheville. It was all that, with all the conveniences I enjoy when returning home exhausted from all that sightseeing! It’s also a pretty park itself on the Swannanoa River.
My first visit to this incredible estate was at Christmas time during my first year of full-time RVing in 2001. I remember being absolutely amazed that a man-made thing could be so beautiful. I was so fascinated with both the home and gardens that I had to return. Here’s the 2007 return visit.
I was intrigued from the time I first saw this picture. I knew I just had to see and feel for myself what it’s like up there! Here’s separate page on that visit.
This was one of the stops I was most looking forward to after hearing of the purple rhododendron covered slopes from mid to late June. I based my departure date on this, but nature didn’t cooperate this year due to a late freeze. Oh well…it was a pretty stop anyway.
There were a few colorful bushes and at least the Mountain Laurel was still showing off in style.
There’s a short nature trail to Craggy Flats from here that’s well worth the 10 minutes it takes to walk it.
Coming north, you’ll come across a sign to Craggy Gardens Picnic Area a couple of miles before the Visitors Center. It’s about a mile long road and is pretty tight with one hairpin curve thrown in for good measure. The parking lot at the end is just large enough to park and turn around in. I think next time I’ll skip the Picnic Area.
Crabtree Meadows Campground
After leaving KOA Asheville East, we only made it 53 miles before our next overnight stop at Crabtree Meadows Campground. Besides the stuff we saw outlined above, there are just so many pulloffs to stop and gawk at and it’s ridiculous to try to rush through this little slice of heaven.
It wasn’t time for an overnight stop when I got to Linville Falls Campground since it’s only 24 miles north of where we stayed at Crabtree Meadows. But I drove through to check it out anyway.
This is the entrance to Area A. The first pull-through you see on the left is A-6.
The site map shows both A & B areas (total of 70 sites – some double-wides) available for RVs and tents.
Linville Falls Hike: Linville Falls is the most famous waterfall in the Blue Ridge and it starts at this visitor center. Since I heard you have to allow 1-3 hours depending on which falls you want to see, I decided to do this another time since mom wasn’t capable of this hike and I didn’t want to leave her alone that long.
Linville Falls Picnic Area is RV friendly with plenty parking and turn-around area, plus it is very pretty and shaded.
RVParkReviews.com – What other campers say about Linville Falls Campground.
Although the view of Grandfather Mountain is at the Parkway’s Milepost 306, you need to exit here (if you’re heading north) and take SR 181 and US 281 and go through the town of Linville to get there for a visit.
I first saw a brochure for this attraction when I visited the Asheville area in December 2001. I really wanted to see that “mile-high swinging bridge,” but at that time it was closed). I always wanted to return when I could really explore here. It took 6 years, but my plan finally came together! Here are details on that visit.
In checking out the map of the area, this looked like the best place from which to explore Grandfather Mountain and I’d been looking forward to that visit for a long time. It was great to have full hookups again for a while and get caught up with laundry, shopping, etc. I really enjoyed my stay here. Here’s link to full review.
Flat Rock Trail
High Country Host: If you’re looking for a trail in the High Country area requiring only a moderate effort but offering a reward of a top-notch view, the Flat Rock Trail is for you. A fairly easy slightly uphill walk of less than 20 minutes leads you to what is sort of a big flat rock at the top of the hill.
An easy self guiding loop that totals .63 mi. There is a nice view at the Flat Rock Parking Overlook, but in this case you must hike to it. A short loop trail starts behind the overlook identification sign. Though you ultimately end up at the top of a small, granite outcrop that is part of Grandfather Mountain, the hike is not all that hard. (I didn’t get to do this on my 2007 trip, but I’m including it here to check out next time.)
Grandfather Mountain Overlook
According to the NPs site, “one of the best southern views of Grandfather Mountain. You might notice how the mountain also resembles the head of a hawk–which also explains the Cherokee name “Tanawa” meaning hawk.” When I passed by here, I didn’t see the resemblance to either one, although the outline of grandfather was easily seen from Grandfather Campground.
Linn Cove Viaduct
The Linn Cove Viaduct hugs the face of Grandfather Mountain and is recognized internationally as an engineering marvel. I had seen this picture countless times while researching the parkway – sometimes with rhododendron in the foreground and other times with brilliantly colored fall leaves.
I was fortunate enough to see it in both summer and fall, and my pictures aren’t as dramatic as I would have liked, but the view was still phenomenal.
This bridge was engineered to wrap around the mountain, not cut into it to minimize the impact on the fragile environment here. There’s good RV parking at the Linn Cove visitor’s center. Ask there exactly where to go to get this shot. You can also hike down a trail to get a view of the underbelly of the viaduct.
It’s all about sharing what we know with other RVers, so if you have anything to add about your stay on the Parkway, I’d love to hear from you in Comments below!