The Blue Ridge Parkway

A pathfinder


Subject Headings & Browsing Areas


Travel Information

Geography & Nature

Hiking & Biking

No fairer land surely than this, where the hills
Are feathered with forests, and braided with rills.

-- A. M. Huger



The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile scenic highway, connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina with Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. In Shenandoah, it becomes Skyline Drive, the 105-mile road that runs the length of the park, offering visitors stunning vistas to the East and West. Last year, over 22 million people visited the Parkway, making it the most visited park in the National Park System. And its no wonder -- as one of the last completely scenic byways in the United States, free of billboards and strip malls, the Parkway is truly a national treasure.

Construction of the Parkway began in September of 1935, as a project of the Civilian Conservation Corps. It was not completely finished until 1987 when the Linn Cove Viaduct was completed. Its many miles bring visitors to four National Forests -- Nantahala, Pisgah, Jefferson, and George Washington. It is also home to an extraordinarily diverse array of plants and wildlife -- about 1,350 plant species, 100 species of trees, 54 different mammals, 40 reptiles, and about 50 salamanders (the Blue Ridge Range is known for its salamanders!), and 159 species of birds. Whew! Grab some binoculars, field guides and maps, and hit the road!


This pathfinder is intended as a guide to anyone planning a trip -- be it a day trip or a month-long backpacking journey -- to this national treasure. It is by no means comprehensive; rather, it is merely a starting point. The resources included in this guide were chosen for their narrow focus -- most are limited in scope to the Parkway itself and the immediate surrounding areas. However, some resources that are broader in scope were included for a variety of reasons, whether it be comprehensiveness, or because it was simply the best source on a particular topic. Resources were chosen under the assumption that they would be used to facilitate a trip by providing practical information on hiking trails, accommodations, directions, etc. Some sources, such as the historical ones, were included for the Parkway traveler who desired a bit of background information or scholarly reading.

Most of these sources can be found at a variety of libraries and bookstores. However, in some instances, particularly with older items in the North Carolina Collection, or the USGS Topo Quads, this is not the case. For these sources, call numbers and more detailed information is given. All of the resources listed can be obtained at UNC's libraries, the Chapel Hill Public Library, local bookstores, or online sources such as

photos from
email Renée Siconolfi with any comments or suggestions
this site was created for INLS 111, Fall 200
last updated 12/10/02


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