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25 Spectacular Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks You’ll Want to See for Yourself

Not all scenic overlooks are alike - and these twenty-five are the best Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks.

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Written by Jason Barnette
on March 17, 2021
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The Blue Ridge Parkway may be one of America’s most scenic drives – but not all scenic overlooks are alike. The small brown signs announcing an upcoming overlook may spark a moment of excitement, but often times the spark is extinguished with a lackluster view. How do you know which Blue Ridge Parkway overlook you should visit?

Dozens of scenic overlooks provide a view of something, although it’s not always spectacular. Some overlooks are nothing more than windows onto the world, and others are completely overgrown.

This list, although not definitive, is a good starting point for finding the best Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks to visit. There are many more than just these twenty-five, but at least these offer a stunning view to enjoy with your time.

What is a Milepost?

Mileposts on the Blue Ridge Parkway mark overlooks, visitor centers, and intersections. These are literally posts, made of concrete, with a number etched on the surface to indicate how many miles from Waynesboro, Virginia. The mileposts mark every full mile from Waynesboro to Cherokee, North Carolina.

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No. 1

Rockfish Valley Overlook at Milepost 1.5

Almost as soon as the adventure begins, the Rockfish Valley Overlook welcomes travelers. The panoramic vista at the overlook offers a stunning view of Rockfish Valley – a broad valley between the Blue Ridge Mountains and a nearby ridge.

This overlook is a fantastic place to watch sunrise almost any day of the year. In the summer months, fog will often times hover over the valley for a couple of hours in the morning.

This overlook is an easy pull-off with plenty of room for personal vehicles, travel trailers, and RVs.

READ MORE: Favorite Travel Photos to Inspire You to Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway

No. 2

Humpback Gap Parking Area at Milepost 6

Don’t be fooled by this parking area – you won’t see much of anything when you park the car. But a hike along the 1.6-mile out and back Humpback Rocks Trail leads to a stunning overlook away from the Parkway.

It’s a moderately strenuous hike with a total 800’ ascent, but it’s worth the effort for the breathtaking view. Expect to take about 2-3 hours for the roundtrip hike and downtime to enjoy the view.

The parking area has room for several persona vehicles, and there is even a small area for travel trailers and RVs to pull over. If this parking lot is full, you can park at the Humpback Rock Visitors Center at Milepost 5.8 and use the trail to hike back to this parking area.

The best view from Ravens Roost Overlook.

No. 3

­­­­Ravens Roost at Milepost 10.7

The first time I visited the Ravens Roost Overlook, the view literally took my breath away. It’s one of my favorite stops on the Blue Ridge Parkway – a place where I always hang a hammock and take a nap.

A stone wall at the edge of the overlook invites visitors to hop on top and get comfortable to enjoy the view. In the distance, the vast Shenandoah Valley spreads across the panoramic vista. It’s a fantastic place to watch sunset or summer thunderstorms moving across the valley.

But the best part – my favorite part – of this overlook is tucked away nearby. Walk to the end of the parking lot to discover a rocky ledge with a lone pine tree at the edge. It’s a stunning view that offers just a little bit of seclusion.

The parking area at this scenic overlook has room for several personal vehicles, but I wouldn’t recommend anything larger than a Class B park here.

READ MORE: Road Trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The view from the pedestrian bridge halfway across the James River.

No. 4

James River Visitor Center at Milepost 63.7

At just 650 feet above sea level, the bridge crossing the James River is the lowest point on the entire Blue Ridge Parkway. You might be wondering why this would make the list of spectacular Parkway overlooks – it’s because of the pedestrian footbridge.

The James River Visitor Center has restrooms and information about the Parkway. A national park ranger is typically on duty during normal business hours during the peak season.

READ MORE: Where to Find the Visitor Centers on the Blue Ridge Parkway

From the visitor center, take the paved trail to the base of the bridge. A pedestrian footbridge was built beneath the vehicular bridge crossing the James River. Looking upriver from the bridge, mountains stand tall above a bend in the river. It’s a unique view along the Parkway.

Although the parking lot does not have designated spots for travel trailers or RVs, there is usually plenty of room.

Walk to the edge of the overlook for that sensation of flying.

No. 5

Thunder Ridge Parking Area at Milepost 74.7

The Thunder Ridge Overlook is pleasantly deceptive. From the parking lot, all you can see are trees – making you think it’s just another overgrown overlook.

Walk the short path through the woods – less than a five-minute walk – and you’ll discover one of the most breathtaking Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks. A semi-circular stone wall gives way to an endless view of the valleys and mountains to the west of the Parkway. It’s a great place to watch sunset almost year-round.

The parking area has plenty of room for personal cars, travel trailers, and RVs. However, be cautious with trailers because it will require a tight turnaround.

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I think those chairs are meant for guests of the Peaks of Otter Lodge, but nobody said anything when I sat there for an hour enjoying the view.

No. 6

Peaks of Otter at Milepost 86

The Peaks of Otter is the premiere destination on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. The sprawling recreation area is built around Abbott Lake at the base of Sharp Top Mountain. The area includes the Peaks of Otter Lodge, Lake View Restaurant, a picnic area, campground, and visitor center.

The best view of Sharp Top is along the 1-mile Abbott Lake Loop Trail. Adventurous travelers can take the challenging 1.5-mile hike on the Sharp Top Trail to the mountain’s summit for spectacular views. A seasonal shuttle from the visitor center will take hikers within a quarter-mile of the summit, but the final 1,000-foot ascent will require foot power.

Did You Know?

The Peaks of Otter is a valley surrounded by three peaks: 4,001’ Flat Top, 3,875’ Sharp Top, and 3,372’ Harkening Hill. The valley was settled by immigrants from Scotland in 1766 and remained a small but populated area until the Blue Ridge Parkway was built in 1935.

No. 7

Mill Mountain Overlook at Milepost 120.3

The Mill Mountain Overlook is one of the most overlooked on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s almost hidden on the 3.7-mile Roanoke Mountain Road – a one-lane, one-way loop road across the mountain adjacent to the Parkway.

The Mill Mountain Overlook is the first of two scenic overlooks on the loop road. It requires a short walk down a flight of stone stairs to an overlook with a stunning view of nearby mountains and valleys. The city of Roanoke is mostly hidden behind one of the mountains. It’s a great place to watch the sunset throughout the year.

Travel trailers and RVs are prohibited on Roanoke Mountain Road – it’s narrow, curvy, and includes a rather steep descent at the end. A Class B would be okay on the road but make sure everything is secured.

No. 8

Groundhog Mountain at Milepost 189

When you pull into the Groundhog Mountain Overlook parking area, you’ll see the only rustic wooden observation tower on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Inside, a staircase climbs about twenty feet to a covered, open-air observation deck with a view of nearby Groundhog Mountain.

It’s a special view because of the overlook’s large field, offering an uninterrupted view lacking at many scenic overlooks. Beside the observation tower is a wonderful picnic area with tables beneath shady trees and restrooms.

Although the parking lot does not have any specifically designated parking spaces for travel trailers or RVs, there is plenty of room for both, along with almost two dozen spaces for personal vehicles.

READ MORE: 15 Places You Must Visit on the Blue Ridge Parkway

No. 9

Fox Hunter’s Paradise Overlook at Milepost 218.6

Of all the hidden Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks, this is one of the best. The scenic overlook along the Parkway offers a modest view – but this isn’t the main attraction. A road at the south end of the overlook leads to a small parking area. This is what you want.

A five-minute walk along a flat, primitive path leads to the Fox Hunter’s Paradise Overlook. The semi-circular overlook behind a stone wall is shaded by a massive tree. With a view looking southeast along the mountain ridge, it’s a great place to enjoy the view – but you won’t be watching sunrise or sunset here.

The parking area nearest the overlook only has room for a few personal vehicles. Park travel trailers and RVs at the overlook beside the Parkway and walk up the paved road.

No. 10

Air Bellows Overlook at Milepost 236.9

This isn’t one of your typical Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks – instead of offering views of ridges, mountain peaks, and gorges, you are treated to a view of fields, farms, and homes. Air Bellows Overlook offers an interesting chance to see how people live in the Blue Ridge Mountains, with homes dotting the landscape and large grassy fields open to the sky.

The pull-off has plenty of parking for personal vehicles, travel trailers, and RVs.  

READ MORE: Favorite Travel Photos to Inspire You to Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway

No. 11

Wildcat Rocks at Milepost 241.1

The 7,000-acre Doughton Park is one of the best day trip destinations on the Blue Ridge Parkway – but there is a hidden scenic overlook.

On the roadway, Doughton Park is marked by the visitor center, gift shop, and restrooms in a small building on the side of the road. Across from the visitor center, a road enters the core of the park. Stay right to visit the various picnic areas and hiking trails.

READ MORE: Road Trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway

But what you really want is to go straight, past an old building, to a small parking area at the end of the road. Climb up the stairs to the Wildcat Rocks Overlook – and one of the most breathtaking views on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Wildcat Rocks sits atop a rocky outcropping high above a hollow. Mountain ridges and peaks fill the panoramic view from the overlook. Bring a chair because you’ll want to sit beneath the shade of the enormous trees and enjoy this breathtaking view for a while.

The parking area closest to the overlook only has room for personal vehicles and small Class B campers. There is plenty of room for travel trailers and RVs at the abandoned building just a few minutes away.

Grandfather Mountain dominates the horizon, but the gorgeous lake fights for attention at this overlook.

No. 12

Julian Price Lake Overlook at Milepost 296.7

The Julian Price Lake Overlook is exactly what it sounds like: an overlook with a view of the mountain lake. From the overlook at the lake’s edge, Grandfather Mountain dominates the horizon and grabs your attention.

The parking area is small and only available for personal vehicles – and often times full. The Julian Price Park Picnic Area has plenty of room for travel trailers and RVs – just walk along the Parkway about five minutes to reach the overlook.

Stand at the rocky outcropping and this is the view of the curvy Linn Cove Viaduct.

No. 13

Yonahlossee Overlook at Milepost 303.9

Have you ever wondered how people capture amazing photos of the iconic Linn Cove Viaduct? Pedestrians are not allowed on the bridge, and there is no official scenic overlook – instead, there is the Yonahlossee Overlook.

On the north end of the S-shaped bridge is a very small pull-off. There is no good view directly from the parking area, but instead a path leading to one. The well-worn dirt path on the protected side of thick wooden guard rails leads to the edge of the Linn Cove Viaduct.

The very small parking area can only be used by maybe half a dozen personal vehicles. It’s best to pull into the parking area while northbound on the Parkway to avoid cutting across traffic in the bend of the road.

READ MORE: “That” View at the Linn Cove Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina

No. 14

Beacon Heights Parking Area at Milepost 305.2

One of the most popular day hikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway begins at the Beacon Heights Parking Area. The 0.6-mile Beacon Heights Trail ascends about 150’ to the exposed top of a rocky knob.

The view is unparalleled in the area. A completely 360-degree panoramic from the top offers stunning views from sunrise until sunset, including nearby Grandfather Mountain. Bring a chair and sit for a while to enjoy this view.

The Beacon Heights Parking Area only has room for a few personal vehicles.

Its a bit of a long climb down to the Chestoa View Overlook, but it’s worth the effort.

No. 15

Chestoa View Overlook at Milepost 320.7

The Choestoa View Overlook is my favorite hidden Blue Ridge Parkway overlook. From the small parking lot, take the short trail down a series of earthen steps. At the bottom, a scenic overlook was built on a rocky outcropping with a view overlooking the gorge. It’s a stunning view that has captivated me since I first discovered it.

The parking lot only has room for a few personal vehicles and maybe some small Class B campervans.

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No. 16

Mt. Mitchell State Park at Milepost 355.4

Although not technically a Blue Ridge Parkway overlook, it would be a crime not to include the highest point east of the Mississippi River. At 6,684’ above sea level, Mount Mitchell has a commanding view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The parking lot is located at 6,578 feet above sea level and offers a spectacular view without the need for any hiking. If you want the claim of reaching the highest point, though, you’re gonna have to work for it. The paved path to the top is a moderately strenuous climb – but it’s a short climb. At the top of the mountain, a circular observation deck provides an uninterrupted view in all directions.

There is plenty of room at the top parking lot for personal vehicles with a good-sized overflow area along the road. However, travel trailers and RVs are not permitted inside the park because of the steep and winding road.

READ MORE: Road Trip to the Southern Sixers

No. 17

Craggy Gardens at Milepost 364.5

Craggy Gardens is my favorite destination on the Blue Ridge Parkway because it has so much to offer. From the parking area, you are already treated to an amazing view of the local landscape. The visitor center includes a gift shop and restrooms – probably much needed after a long drive on the Parkway.

The 1.4-mile Craggy Pinnacle Trail is one of my favorite hiking trails on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Starting at a parking lot near the visitor center, the trail ascends Craggy Pinnacle at an elevation of 5,892’. Although it’s 800 feet shorter than Mount Mitchell, I enjoy the view more from this overlook.

READ MORE: 3 Ways to Explore Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway

An easier hike is the 0.6-mile Craggy Knob Trail from the visitor center parking lot. The trail passes through a rhododendron forest to a covered shelter and ends at a grassy meadow on the gentle bald knob. If you look closely, you’ll probably see tiny humans standing on the Craggy Pinnacle Overlook nearby.

Although none of the parking areas around Craggy Gardens have designated spaces for travel trailers and RVs, there is still plenty of room for parking.

Even the view from the parking lot is amazing – and it makes a great sunset location during the summer months.

No. 18

Mount Pisgah Overlook at Milepost 407.6

Shortly after passing through a tunnel – one of many along the North Carolina section of the Blue Ridge Parkway – a spur road leads to the Mount Pisgah Overlook. The view from the car is almost unmatched on the Parkway and a favorite place for capturing summer sunsets.

At the end of the parking lot, the 3.2-mile Mount Pisgah Trail is a moderately strenuous hike that ascends 700 feet to a wooden observation deck near the mountain’s summit. The view is breathtaking – but you’ll probably already be out of breath from the hike.

There is plenty of room for personal vehicles, travel trailers, and RVs.

No. 19

Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower Trail at Milepost 409.1

For a completely different kind of Blue Ridge Parkway overlook, how about the view from a former fire lookout tower? The 1.5-mile Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower Trail ascends about 350’ – making it a steep hike – but the reward is uninterrupted views from the top of a 70’ fire tower.

The parking area along the Blue Ridge Parkway is unofficial at best – only a few spaces at the end of the old fire service road. These spaces for personal vehicles are often taken early in the day with no option for parking nearby.

No. 20

Looking Glass Rock Overlook at Milepost 417

From the Looking Glass Rock Overlook, you can see the prominent rise of Looking Glass Rock. At 3,970’, it’s an impressive geological formation jutting above the local landscape and a favorite for rock climbers. The 5.3-mile Looking Glass Rock Trailbegins near U.S. Highway 276 and ascends nearly 1,700’ to the top of the mountain.

The parking area is small, with room for a few personal vehicles and maybe one travel trailer or RV.

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No. 21

East Fork Overlook at Milepost 418.3

Pull off at the East Fork Overlook for one of the most surprisingly amazing overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The overlook features a view north across the rugged mountains toward Asheville; at night, you can see the dome of light pollution from the nearby city.

What makes this such an interesting overlook is the sheer rock wall on the other side of the road. Stanley Abbott, the manager in charge of building the Blue Ridge Parkway, wanted to leave as little scar on the landscape as possible. There are very few cuts through the mountains in the Parkway. However, the Parkway at this particular point is a rare example. The towering cliff wall frequently drips water onto the road, and in the winter is covered with ice.

The pull-off overlook has parking room for about two dozen personal vehicles, but you could also squeeze a couple travel trailers or RVs into the space. However, the best way to turn into the overlook is by traveling southbound on the Parkway.

READ MORE: Road Trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway

No. 22

Devils Courthouse Overlook at Milepost 422.4

Pull into the parking lot at Devil’s Courthouse Overlook, and you’ll already have an amazing view. But from the parking lot facing southeast, you’ll see an exposed rock cliff; look closely, and you just might see tiny people on top of the cliff.

The 1-mile Devil’s Courthouse Trail is about as strenuous as it gets with a nearly 300’ climb in about a quarter-mile. But that’s okay because, at the top, you’ll find a scenic overlook on a rocky outcropping surrounded by a stone wall with plenty of places to sit and take in the view in all directions. It’s also one of the few scenic overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway that is perfect for watching both sunrise and sunset, though probably not on the same day.

Because of the odd shape of the parking area, there is plenty of room for personal vehicles, travel trailers, and RVs.

READ MORE: Favorite Travel Photos to Inspire You to Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Cowee Mountain Overlook is the best place on the Blue Ridge Parkway to watch stunning sunsets over the mountains.

No. 23

Cowee Mountain Overlook at Milepost 430.7

The Cowee Mountain Overlook is my favorite Blue Ridge Parkway overlook. The extended parking lot offers endless opportunities for panoramic views of the mountains. To the right, the Great Smoky Mountains rise on the horizon. To the left, the mountains of northern Georgia. It’s my favorite place to capture summer sunset photos because of the uninterrupted view and utter peacefulness.

The parking lot at this overlook is just about the largest on the Parkway with plenty of room for all kinds of vehicles.

No. 24

Richland Balsam at Milepost 431.4

At 6,053’ above sea level, the Richland Balsam Overlook is the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is a large sign on the side of the road announcing the point of interest that makes a perfect backdrop for a portrait or selfie.

The overlook itself doesn’t offer a spectacular view, with trees blocking much of the panorama, but it’s still nice enough to wander around for a moment to enjoy the overlook.

No. 25

Waterrock Knob at Milepost 451.2

The parking area at Waterrock Knob is located on an exposed ridge just above the Blue Ridge Parkway with gorgeous views from either side. The west side of the overlook, with a concrete picnic table I often use as a mobile desk while traveling, features a view of Cherokee in the distance below.

With privy restrooms, a visitor center, and gift shop, and wide-open spaces, Waterrock Knob is a popular place just to hang out with friends and family while waiting on gorgeous summer sunset.

The 1.2-mile Waterrock Knob Trail ascends about 400’ to the mountain’s summit where you are treated to a spectacular view. About ¼-mile on the trail is a scenic overlook with a view of the parking area.

READ MORE: Favorite Travel Photos to Inspire You to Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway

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