Road to Maximum Relaxation – Highlights Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

linn cove viaduct

When we left Virginia on October 15th, we didn’t really have a solid plan in place. We still don’t have a solid plan and that’s the point. We packed our car with essentials – food, camping gear, clothing, etc. and hit the road knowing we’d end up in Florida where we’d begin our quest towards achieving maximum relaxation; the kind of relaxation one can achieve as a kid on summer vacation, a well-prepared retiree, or an intentionally unemployed millennial with few responsibilities and a little bit of savings. We fall into the last category.

On our trip South, we stopped at a few new sites along the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina. Here are a couple highlights:

Julian Price Memorial Park

We lucked out with a campsite with views of Price Lake for $20 a night. We did a walk around the Price Lake loop while we visited and stopped in Blowing Rock, NC for beers at the Blowing Rock Brewing Company.

Julian Price Campground

Lake Price Julian Price Campground

Linn Cove Viaduct

We nerded out at the visitor center learning about the construction of the Linn Cove Viaduct which was the first structure in the U.S. to be built using the pre-cast progressive placement method. This method of construction limits impacts to the surrounding environment, allows more consistency in quality of concrete, and enables work to progress even during cold winter months. Using this method of construction, sections of the bridge were manufactured (cast) off-site nearby and then brought to the southern end of the soon-to-be floating structure. Using a crane situated on land first and eventually the floating viaduct itself, pre-cast sections were hoisted into place and connected one piece after the other (hence progressive placement). By building the structure upon itself and using the completed sections of viaduct as the primary haul road, impacts to the environment and existing mountain were limited.

Driving on the “S” shaped viaduct, the road seemingly disappears momentarily and it feels like your floating along the mountain side.

Linn Cove Viaduct

We hiked the short but rewarding Beacon Heights trail to gorgeous views of the foliage.

Beacon Heights Trail

Linville Falls

We hiked the Erwin’s View Trail to overlook points with views of Linville Falls and the entire Linville Gorge. If we ever go again, I think I’d pick a hike that takes us to the falls at ground level. The elevation at the overlooks on the Erwin’s View Trail made the waterfalls appear less grand in my opinion. Or maybe I’m a waterfall snob? Perhaps I was hangry? Dan thought it was beautiful though!

Mount Mitchell

The 360 degree views from the observation tower at Mt. Mitchell are breathtaking. Or perhaps it was the chilling winds that took the breath out of us. Either way, it was worth the stop.

For years it was debated which peak is the highest East of the Mississippi; current day Mt. Mitchell right off the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina or Clingman’s Dome on the North Carolina/Tennessee border in the Great Smoky Mountains? Professor Elisha Mitchell, measured the peak formally known as “Black Dome” (now named Mt. Mitchell) and made the claim it was the highest in the East. However, a former student of his, Thomas Clingman claimed that another peak was the highest (the peak now called Clingman’s Dome). In 1857, Dr. Mitchell set out on an expedition to re-measure Black Dome to finally put the debate to rest. He fell to his death in the attempt. His grave lies at approximately 6,684 feet above sea-level, at Mt. Mitchell – the confirmed highest peak east of the Mississippi.

Mount Mitchell State Park

Mount Mitchell State Park

Mount Mitchell State Park

After Mt. Mitchell, we stopped in Asheville, NC for a few days to visit some of the breweries in town before heading to our home away from home in Sarasota, Florida.

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4 Replies to “Road to Maximum Relaxation – Highlights Along the Blue Ridge Parkway”

  1. Kate Nishimura says: Reply

    Dang, these photos are beautiful! I love seeing what you’re up to, especially since I’m usually hiking on the opposite coast. It’s so crazy how different the vegetation and landscape is on the East vs. West. It’s dry and brittle here most of the time and I had almost forgotten about the way the leaves change or the fact that coniferous trees exist. Whenever I’m out walking around I think about you guys, though! It’s *almost* like we’re doing it together <3

  2. It IS like we are hiking together! We will actually hike together someday. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. 🙂 California has some crazy topography compared to flat Florida. My favorite part about traveling is seeing the change in landscapes. Just road tripping around the U.S. – it still blows my mind the difference a few 100 miles makes. Currently in the land of mudflats, estuaries, and mangrove forests and loving it! Hope to post about it soon. <3

  3. Creeping on your blog but…I think you actually missed the best part of Linville Falls!! There’s a section where the riverbed is so smooth that you can sit on your butt and ride down the rapids like a slide (can’t remember if it’s the Upper or Lower Falls, but check it out next time)! Take a bathing suit. Cheers!

    1. Thanks Brianne! See, that’s what we needed – the inside scoop! We’ll need to go back and check it out. Thanks for the tip! Have you been there a bunch?

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