April 23, 2019
4 Fun Facts About the Blue Ridge Parkway
By: Kelly Fox
In honor of National Park Week, we wanted to highlight our closest National Park: the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Sugar Tree Inn has a long-standing and important relationship with the Parkway. Located a mile from Milepost 27, many of our guests travel the Parkway, some end-to-end, some day-trippers, and others take it as an alternative route. So, in the spirit of Trivia Tuesday and National Park Week, we've found four fun facts about the Blue Ridge Parkway.
1. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a landscaped design.
What does that mean? It means that everything is planned, with the intent to maximize your experience. They want you to walk away from your visit with a cohesive impression. In the case of the Parkway, landscape architects and engineers designed the park together. Vistas, hikes, road paths were all pre-arranged and constructed to highlight the beauty of the Appalachian mountains.
2. One of the reasons the Blue Ridge Parkway was constructed was to connect Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.
In the 1920s, National Parks were taking shape out west. During the 1930s on the east coast, National Parks became established as part of public work programs created by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. On November 24, 1933, the Blue Ridge Parkway, dubbed a “park-to-park” highway, was approved for construction. The Parkway would be the longest sprawling park of its kind. Interestingly, Skyline Drive, which runs through 105 miles in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, the beginning point of the Parkway, was completed in 1933 but the park which it runs through wasn't deemed a National Park until December 26, 1935. And the Great Smokey Mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina, the ending point of the Parkway wasn't officially a National Park until June 15, 1934.
3. Construction on the Blue Ridge Parkway began September 11, 1935, but wasn't completed in-full until 1987.
Construction of the Parkway was done by a mix of private contractors and public work programs established by the New Deal. When World War II broke out, construction slowed to a crawl. By the 1950s, approximately half of the Parkway was complete. In 1956, Mission 66 was created. Mission 66 was an initiative program to complete the Parkway by 1966, which it did with the exception of the final 7.7 miles over Grandfather Mountain. Then in 1987, construction on the Linn Cove Viaduct over Grandfather Mountain was complete, thus completing the sprawling 469-mile National Park we know and love today.
4. During the winter, when many sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway are closed due to inclement weather, the road is still open to foot traffic.
I know I've mentioned this before in my Winter Activities post, but it is worth mentioning again because it is such a fun fact. How fun would it be to hike or cross-country ski the Blue Ridge Parkway, gazing over the vistas with the world blanketed in snow?
Bonus Fun Fact: One of Sugar Tree Inn's old tag lines was, “Just off the Parkway.”
The Parkway offers views and glimpses into eastern America that in today's technology-driven world seem out of place. But isn't that why we love it? The Parkway is a place to go where we can remember and wonder. Remember what it used to be like when...? I wonder what it used to be like when... Either way, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a place for all ages where you can let your mind relax and imagine. Let the ribbon of road reboot your brain as you flow through America's oldest mountain range, and if you need a place to rest your head, Sugar Tree Inn will be here.
We're looking forward to your stay!