We started in Shenandoah National Park and ended in Smoky Mountain National Park and drove the entire Blue Ridge Parkway in between! We had a wonderful trip. Our vacation was the first week of June and we had some great flower displays. We saw Catawba Rhododendron, Flame Azaleas and Mountain Laurels, mostly in the lower elevations. But the higher elevations compensated for fewer flowering shrubs with stunning views! There were meadow flowers everywhere. The driving was easy and traffic almost nonexistent. The weather was mild temperatures with off and on rain with a couple of downpours. It never seemed to get in the way of what we wanted to do.
I wasn't sure how many days to plan for and finally settled on 1 day each in the National Parks and 3 days on the Parkway. This worked really well for us but if you plan to do a lot of hiking or sightseeing along the way, you should plan to add a day and drive fewer miles each day. We stayed in a B&B in Woolwine (The Mountain Rose - really nice) our first night on the Parkway, Little Switzerland (The Switzerland Inn - super nice) the second night, and Maggie Valley (motel) the third night. We spent a good portion of each day in the car, but still felt that we were able to stop for plenty of Visitor Centers and overlooks and a few short hikes. Some of the Visitor Centers were closed because of the sequester but the exhibits were still open. The best Visitor Centers were Mabry Mill, the Blue Ridge Music Center, the Folk Art Center and the Parkway Headquarters in Asheville. Roanoke and Blowing Rock were good stops for coffee and a quick look around town. We spent a day in Charlottesville VA (to visit Monticello) a morning in Cherokee NC (to see the Cherokee Living History Museum) and a whole day in Asheville (to see Biltmore) to finish off the trip.
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