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Visiting the Iconic Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia

The most iconic destination on the Blue Ridge Parkway also has a restaurant and hiking trail around the historic buildings.

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Even if you’ve never been to Mabry Mill, you’ve probably seen a photo of it. The weather-worn mill with giant water wheel beside a small pond is one of the most photographed spots on the Blue Ridge Parkway. But it’s more than just a mill – it’s a day trip excursion.

And it’s something everyone should experience once.

Mabry Mill features a restaurant serving three meals per day, gift shop stocked with Virginia arts and crafts, and several historic buildings to explore on a half-mile trail.

Find out how to get to Mabry Mill, everything you can do there, and a few other things to do while you’re in the area.

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Map of Mabry Mill

How to use this map: Click the icon in the top-left corner to open the Map Legend, then click on any of the legend items to display more information. If you have a Google account, click the star beside the map’s name to save this map to your account, then access the map from your smartphone during your trip.

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The spinning water wheel of Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
When the water wheel at Mabry Mill is spinning, that’s a good indication the doors are open for visitors.
The spinning water wheel of Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
When the water wheel at Mabry Mill is spinning, that’s a good indication the doors are open for visitors.

History of Mabry Mill

In 1782, Isaac Mabry received a land grant for 183 acres near Robertson’s Creek of the Dan River. He was the first Mabry to move into the region and his ancestors still live nearby today.

Ed Mabry was born in Patrick County near present-day Stuart. After years of working as a chair maker and blacksmith, Mabry moved to Floyd County onto land near where his great, great, great grandfather settled over a hundred years earlier.

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

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From 1903-1905, Ed and Lizzie Mabry built a gristmill and began producing some of the best cornmeal in the region. In 1910, they expanded the original mill to include a water-powered lathe and saw. Like most farmsteads of the era, Mabry eventually built a blacksmith shop nearby to craft his own tools.

When Ed passed away in 1938, the National Park Service purchased the property and even some of the tools from Lizzie. Four years later, the buildings were restored and opened to the public.

Did You Know?

Construction began on the Blue Ridge Parkway in 1935. By the time the United States was pulled into World War II, only 170 miles of the parkway was completed. Construction resumed after the war and by 1966 all but 7.7 miles around Grandfather Mountain were completed. Finally, in 1987, the Linn Cove Viaduct was finished and the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway was complete – 52 years after construction started.

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Water from a worn wooden aqueduct spills over the top of the wooden wheel at Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Water travels along an aqueduct to the top of the wheel, providing it with enough force to spin the wheel and power everything inside Mabry Mill.
Water from a worn wooden aqueduct spills over the top of the wooden wheel at Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Water travels along an aqueduct to the top of the wheel, providing it with enough force to spin the wheel and power everything inside Mabry Mill.

Milepost 176 on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Mabry Mill is located at Milepost 176 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. It’s about 30 miles from Mt. Airy, 35 miles from Galax, 55 miles from Roanoke, and 60 miles from Winston-Salem. And it’s just 22 miles from Exit 8 on Interstate 77, the closest entrance to the Parkway.

The GPS address for Mabry Mill is 266 Mabry Mill Road, Meadows of Dan, VA.

The easiest way to get to Mabry Mill is Exit 14 on Interstate 77. Take US Route 58 toward Hillsville and continue around the town on the bypass. In the Meadows of Dan, a small unincorporated town, you’ll see signs for turning onto the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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Parking at Mabry Mill

A large parking lot in front of the Mabry Mill Restaurant and Gift Shop is the easiest place to park. But during the summer months and pleasant weekends throughout the year, parking can be scarce.

A sign for “Overflow Parking” leads to an exit from the parkway onto Mabry Mill Road. Past the restaurant and across the road from the various outbuildings is a gravel parking lot with restrooms.

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Brilliant purple and pink blooms on rhododendron bushes near the Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
In late May, the rhododendron bushes surrounding the pond at Mabry Mill bloom, creating a beautiful landscape for photos and portraits.
Brilliant purple and pink blooms on rhododendron bushes near the Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
In late May, the rhododendron bushes surrounding the pond at Mabry Mill bloom, creating a beautiful landscape for photos and portraits.

Best Time to Visit Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill is open to the public year-round unless the parkway is closed because of inclement winter weather. But although the property is open, the mill and restaurant are only open seasonally.

The best time to visit Mabry Mill is mid-week from June through September. The restaurant is open and serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The mill is occasionally open mid-week, although most demonstrations and reenactments happen on the weekends. Weekends tend to get busy at the popular sight in the summer.

Other great times to visit Mabry Mill is in the late spring when rhododendron bushes bloom and in the autumn when the fall colors change.

READ MORE: How to Find the 12 Beautiful Waterfalls on the Blue Ridge Parkway

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During the summer months, volunteers work inside Mabry Mill and the blacksmith shop, demonstrating how frontier settlers in the 1800s provided for themselves.

Things to Do at Mabry Mill

Go for a hike on the 0.5-mile self-guided interpretive trail winding through the various historic buildings surrounding Mabry Mill. All the buildings, besides the mill, were moved to the site by the National Park Service from the region in order to preserve their history.

From May through October, demonstrations reveal an inside look at farmstead life with a blacksmith hammering red-hot tools, a basket weaver crafting bowls, and busy work inside the mill.

One of the most iconic photos of the Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks the small pond and Mabry Mill from the edge of the parking lot. It’s a popular place for a portrait – or a selfie if you’re traveling solo.

READ MORE: Road Trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway

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Breakfast meal at Mabry Mill Restaurant featuring pancakes, eggs, and breakfast potatoes.
A savory country breakfast at the Mabry Mill Restaurant featuring pancakes, potatoes, eggs, and a buttery biscuit.

Mabry Mill Restaurant & Gift Shop

The Mabry Mill Restaurant is one of only four restaurants on the Blue Ridge Parkway. But it’s the only restaurant on the parkway serving “world famous” pancakes. Breakfast is served until noon. You can choose buckwheat, cornmeal, sweet potato, or traditional pancakes to accompany the country sampler of eggs, sausage, and grits.

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For lunch and dinner, choose between a chicken pot pie, pot roast, or roast turkey platter with a selection of country sides like pinto beans and glazes carrots. You could also order a sandwich or the Mill Cheeseburger.

But whatever you order, end the meal with a serving of their traditional blackberry cobbler served warm with a side of ice cream.

The gift shop features a grand selection of Virginia arts and crafts, books about recreation and the Blue Ridge Parkway, and clothing like t-shirts and hats. It’s also where you’ll find the National Park Passport cancellation stamp.

The restaurant and gift shop was open seasonally from May through the end of October.

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Top: The gorgeous tasting room at Chateau Morrisette. Bottom: The wooden observation tower at Groundhog Mountain.

Things to Do Near Mabry Mill

Mabry Mill is in a beautiful and exciting area of Virginia to visit. If you’re heading southbound on the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s the beginning of an incredible journey through some of the most scenic vistas in the country.

But first, seven miles north at Milepost 169 is the Rocky Knob Recreation Area. Stop at the visitor center for maps and information (open seasonally). Then, go for a hike on the 1-mile Picnic Loop Trail or the 3-mile out-and-back Black Ridge Trail.

Chateau Morrisette is a third generation locally owned winery and one of the best in Virginia. Visit their gorgeous tasting room built with reclaimed barnwood and stones. Take a guided tour of their facilities to learn about the process of making wine.

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At Milepost 189, enjoy a break from driving at the Groundhog Mountain Overlook. A small picnic area and restrooms are available year-round. The two-story wooden observation tower was used by the Virginia Forest Service in the early 1900s. Today, it offers a stunning view of the meadow and mountains.

Puckett Cabin at Milepost 190 tells the heart-rending story of Orleans Hawks Puckett, a mountain woman who lost twenty-four babies either stillborn or in their infancy. In her mid-50s, she accidentally became a midwife and in the next forty years delivered over 1,000 babies in the local communities.

Hillsville is an off-parkway destination worthy of a visit. In 1912, it was the sight of the horrendous Courthouse Tragedy that led to the death of the judge, prosecutor, and several others during a contested trial. Downtown features a couple of nice restaurants.

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Places to Stay Near Mabry Mill

In terms of lodging and amenities, Mabry Mill is remote. And that’s why so many adventurers and road trippers love it. But there a few good places within an hour to spend the night.

Campgrounds

The Rocky Knob Campground at Milepost 169 is an excellent place to camp for a few nights. The campground features 106 campsites – 27 reserved for RVs and 25 only for tents. Restrooms and water are available, but typical other all the other campgrounds on the Blue Ridge Parkway there are no showers, electrical hookups, or sewer hookups.

Budget

Red Roof Inn at Exit 14 is a great budget-friendly place to spend the night. It’s a rare example of a hotel in the roadside motel chain with doors safely accessed from the inside of the building. The bare-minimum hotel features renovated rooms, comfortable beds, and a simple complimentary breakfast.

Booking.com | Expedia.com | Hotels.com

The Super 8 doesn’t look like much, but it’s a surprisingly comfortable place to spend the night. The hotel features comfortable rooms with few other amenities other than a safe place to stay.

Booking.com | Expedia.com | Hotels.com

Premium

The Hampton Inn is a great place to stay in a premium hotel at a lower cost than other destinations. The hotel features an indoor swimming pool and the best hot complimentary breakfast of any hotel chain.

Booking.com | Expedia.com | Hotels.com

Holiday Inn Express is another premium hotel at a lower cost than most other locations. The hotel features a nice indoor swimming pool and comfortable rooms. A good breakfast is included in the morning, but not as good as the competition across the street.

Booking.com | Expedia.com | Hotels.com

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the famous mill in Virginia?

The most famous mill in Virginia is the Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Hillsville.

Who owns the Mabry Mill?

The National Park Service owns the Mabry Mill. The NPS purchased the property after Ed Mabry’s death in 1938.

How old is the Mabry Mill?

The oldest part of the Mabry Mill was built in 1903.

Where is the Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Mabry Mill is at Milepost 176 on the Blue Ridge Parkway about 22 miles from Hillsville, Virginia.

What milepost is Mabry Mill?

Mabry Mill is located at Milepost 176.

Is Mabry Mill dog friendly?

Yes! Mabry Mill is dog friendly. However, owners must keep their dogs on a leash in public areas.

When does Mabry Mill open for the season?

Mabry Mill typically opens for the season during the Memorial Day weekend.

When does Mabry Mill close for the season?

Mabry Mill typically closes for the season on October 31.

What is the halfway point on the Blue Ridge Parkway?

The halfway point on the Blue Ridge Parkway is the Mahogany Rock Overlook at Milepost 235 near Sparta, North Carolina.

Are there restrooms on the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Yes, there are dozens of public restrooms on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Restrooms are typically located at visitor centers, campgrounds, restaurants, and picnic areas. However, most restrooms are closed seasonally from November through May.

Are there restaurants on the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Yes, there are four restaurants on the Blue Ridge Parkway: Lake View Restaurant at the Peaks of Otter, Mabry Mill Restaurant, The Bluffs Restaurant at Doughton Park, and the Pisgah Inn Dining Room.

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4 Responses

    1. As far as I know, Mabry Mill is still standing just as always. Although the wheel is currently under renovation.

  1. Will there still be people for reenactments the first week of November? I’m thinking of bring my family on the 4th.

    1. No. The official end of the Blue Ridge Parkway season is October 31 — on a normal year. That’s when funding for seasonal rangers ends and most visitors centers, restrooms, and restaurants along the Parkway close — including Mabry Mill.

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