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Blue Ridge Parkway (starting from Washington DC)

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Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
1,082 posts
44 reviews
Blue Ridge Parkway (starting from Washington DC)


We are on a one-way journey relocation from Washington DC to the West Coast this coming December.

Starting from Washington DC, we plan to south-west first (terminus will be Ashville, NC - we plan to go to Biltmore Estate too), continuing through Great Smoky NP, Nashville TN and then westwards all the way out to California via I-40 mostly.

Much as we like, we definitely do not have the time to do the entirety of BRP. I try reading the blueridgeparkway.org website but I think I have information overload!

So can anyone who is familiar with BRP please let me know which section is best and I should choose to do? Let's assume I can only allocate a few hours or up to 1 day of driving/sightseeing/stopping/eating for BRP. So I definitely dont want to spend say 8 hours driving non-stop on BRP, hence I have to be selective.

I know BRP runs almost parallel to I-81 and I can enter onto BRP at certain points, but first i need to know at which part to cut out and enter BRP from the Interstate!

Please advice!

p/s: is the BRP known by other route numbers on a map? because i cannot really tell which route is BRP if i look at a Rand McNally road atlas, for example.

Many thanks ahead

Level Contributor
2,002 posts
2 reviews
1. Re: Blue Ridge Parkway (starting from Washington DC)

This is a great post but also one that is very difficult to answer since the question is so subjective and I want to add more.

To me all off the BRP/ Skyline Drive is beautiful and the views are great everywhere since there are no leaves to block them. Of course that's the season and a problem since they don't plow these roads and even small amounts of snow or ice will shut them down immediatley. Another danger is the deer. This is mating and hunting season so they are very active. An hour before dusk and an hour after sunset is prime time.

With all that aside and if it were me, I would head west on I-66 and enter the SLD at Front Royal and drive toRockfish Gap and enter I-64 west to I-81 south from there or use 66 to 81 south andenter the BRP at Rockfish Gap.

The problem is Biltmore is no more than 6 hrs by interstate and driving BRP at night is pointless. Expect SLD to take 3 to 4 hours at 35 mph.

Level Contributor
2,002 posts
2 reviews
2. Re: Blue Ridge Parkway (starting from Washington DC)

My advise for Skyline is due to time. Having driven cross country twice for th adventure, I wanted to suggest spending some time investing other sites along your drive. BRP and Skyline are beautiful but spending 8 hours in the park driving seems a bit much to me. JMO


Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
1,082 posts
44 reviews
3. Re: Blue Ridge Parkway (starting from Washington DC)

thank you!

actually, i dont plan to do Skyline Drive at all because i already been there in the past. so like you said, it's really not worth spending more than a few hours on BRP -- but since I have to go south/southwest anyway, i might as well go on some parts of the BRP.

also, is there anything to do at Great Smoky Mountains NP at this time of the year? or should i just disregard that and go straight to TN and focus on enjoying the rest of NP out at NM, AZ, UT, NV?

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
8,082 posts
37 reviews
4. Re: Blue Ridge Parkway (starting from Washington DC)

I think I would skip it all together for a winter drive. You have a very long drive ahead of you, and there is little to really see in the winter. If you were talking about fall or even spring, I'd say that's a different story.

Level Contributor
2,002 posts
2 reviews
5. Re: Blue Ridge Parkway (starting from Washington DC)

I disagree there is little to see in winter but again, weather may be a problem. Since you've already done SLD, you might give BRP a pass and focus on NP you haven't seen across the country.

Of course, if you haven't been, the Grand Canyon is a must but again weather may be an issue so check ahead.

Have a great trip and don't forget the camera!

Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
1,082 posts
44 reviews
6. Re: Blue Ridge Parkway (starting from Washington DC)

Thank you very much!

Yeah, I am starting to second-guess myself and am thinking of removing BRP from my itinerary, since overall i have been getting quite a lot of resistance and caution warnings from people about using the BRP in the winter, will be gloomy weather or ice on road etc., not worth the view .

So if i decide to skip that, and assuming if i still have to pass by places in TN like Nashville and Memphis (and keep the rest of journey as it is), then what will be the choice of driving and sightseeing stops for me (in VA or NC) between Washington DC and Nashville? It looks like Roanoke is probably the city that makes the most sense in this case? How big is Roanoke compared to say places I am more familiar with eg. Arlington or Alexandria?

Should I still make a detour out from I-81/I-40 to Asheville for a day of sightseeing?

Please advice

Destination Expert
for Phoenix
Level Contributor
2,314 posts
246 reviews
7. Re: Blue Ridge Parkway (starting from Washington DC)

The Biltmore Estate in Ashville is well worth a visit. We were there at Christmas one year and took the candle light tour that included live entertainment in various places as you wandered around the mansion.

Visiting Charlottesville in VA and seeing Monticello would be a worthwhile stop

As for Tenn. I loved Nashville (Grand Old Opry, Country Music Hall of Fame,

Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center (visit but expensive to stay there)and Memphis (Elvis' Graceland).

When we moved from VA to AZ we hit all the places we wanted to see and took our time. Might as well enjoy the move.

BRP is beautiful in Autumn. Not so much in winter.

8. Re: Blue Ridge Parkway (starting from Washington DC)

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