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Favorite Travel Photos to Inspire You to Drive the Blue Ridge Parkway

Photo essay of my favorite travel photos of the Blue Ridge Parkway that I hope will inspire you to #GoForaDrive.

By Jason Barnette | Travel writer and photographer with 15+ years of road tripping experience

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Affiliate Disclosure here.

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( UPDATED May 6, 2020) I don’t know how many miles I’ve driven on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but it’s a lot. I don’t know how many photos I’ve captured, but it’s a lot. I don’t know how happy I’ve felt, but it’s a lot.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is my favorite drive in the country. I visit every year, drive at least one section, and I’ve included it in several of my road trips. It’s a temptation I wouldn’t even try to resist.

Ever since my first visit to the Parkway as an adult in 2011, I have been capturing photos from the scenic overlooks, destinations, and middle of the road. Here are some of my favorite photos I’ve captured over the years that I hope will inspire you to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Ah, life is a road trip, and my favorite road trip is the Blue Ridge Parkway. The most difficult part of driving that wonderful two-lane road is resisting the urge to stop every half mile to capture a photo. I never put up much of a fight.

Mabry Mill is probably the most iconic destination on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I have captured many photos of the spinning wheel beside the grist mill, but I’ve also captured photos of the exhibits behind the mill and reenactors in the other buildings.

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Linville Falls is a wildly popular destination on the Blue Ridge Parkway. But did you know there is another, smaller waterfall just minutes from the parking lot? Duggers Creek Falls was one of my favorite discoveries of the year!

National Park Week 2024

Learn about the annual celebration of the National Park System and read my travel guides to national park units across the country.

The Linn Cove Viaduct was called “The Missing Link” because it was the last section of the Blue Ridge Parkway completed. The infamous S-curve is one of the most beautiful one-mile drives on the Parkway.

Craggy Gardens is one of my favorite places to visit on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The view from Craggy Pinnacle, top left, is rather amazing. Below, the hike to Craggy Knob passes through a rhododendron tunnel filled with blooms around June each year.

There are 25 tunnels on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and all but one are located in North Carolina. The Craggy Pinnacle Tunnel is one of my favorites because it’s so photogenic.

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I’ve seen a lot of wildlife on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but these three photos are my favorites so far. I reckon hiding your head in the lake means you don’t have to do your chores later?

Roanoke Mountain was one of the most surprising discoveries I ever made on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The one-lane, one-way road across the mountain includes a couple of scenic overlooks. Below, the view from the Mill Mountain Overlook is one of my favorites.

Every day I spend on the Blue Ridge Parkway ends with a sunset. Of course, they aren’t all spectacular. But this one at the Cowee Mountain Overlook was one of the best I’ve ever seen.

See that red chair? That was my red chair. Shortly after capturing this photo of Sharp Top at the Peaks of Otter, I plopped down into that chair and didn’t move for an hour. Best hour all week.

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Ravens Roost Overlook instantly became one of my favorites on the Blue Ridge Parkway. From the long parking area there is an awesome view, pictured above, that includes a portion of the Shenandoah Valley. Below, this lone tree on the edge of a cliff is the perfect photo subject.

Autumn is one of the best, and most popular, times of year to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. Brilliant colors, fallen leaves, and crisp air create an inviting atmosphere begging to be explored from sunrise til sunset. I often do exactly that.

Along with vibrant colors during the autumn, there are also wooly worms!

This view, hidden behind Pisgah Inn, is one of the best on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s not entire a secret, so I don’t mind revealing it here, but I’d rather enjoy it as a guest of the inn for a few nights in October.

National Park Week 2024

Learn about the annual celebration of the National Park System and read my travel guides to national park units across the country.

Julian Price Lake is the only body of water on the Blue Ridge Parkway visitors are allowed to kayak. At the base of Grandfather Mountain, the lake has an awesome view throughout the year.

The Linn Cove Viaduct was designed to almost seamlessly blend with the natural curves of Grandfather Mountain, but it stands out during the peak of fall colors.

Every mile I drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway makes me happy. I reckon I’ll just keep driving it. I’ve done the entire Parkway end-to-end twice now, including countless short sections, but I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that black top cutting a path across the mountains.

3 Responses

  1. Hi,

    I’m staying in Raleigh and want to see fall colors on blue ridge parkway, Roanoke. Can you please suggest best places where I can see the falls colors.

    1. Around Roanoke I suggest the Peaks of Otter area. Several scenic overlooks and hiking trails to enjoy, photos around the lake would be awesome. But keep in mind the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Roanoke is temporarily closed because of a rock slide. It won’t be reopened anytime soon, so plan accordingly!

  2. I discovered your website today. I happen to love scenic places such as I have seen on your webpage. I have been wanting to drive the blue ridge parkway on my cruiser. Fall is upon us and I would love to make it and ride at lest half of it before the weather turns bad. I live in Southwest, VA. About an hour below Bristol, TN. What I want to know is where would be the best place to start to ride half of it. Would the trip from Gatlinburg, TN listed as one of your favorite drives from there to Ashville, NC be my choice or driving to Roanoke, VA and getting on it from there and riding south. I just want to ride several miles on it and enjoy some of it. I would appreciate your information and advice. I just visited your “favorite drive” on the parkway. I enjoyed all your pics, where do I start to see all of those places?

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Do you have a question about travel or road trips? Are you a CVB or DMO interested in working with me? I typically respond to emails within 24 hours. Quicker if you include a good riddle.
Do you have a question about travel or road trips? Are you a CVB or DMO interested in working with me? I typically respond to emails within 24 hours. Quicker if you include a good riddle.
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