• Cherokee National Forest

    Cherokee National Forest

  • Great Smoky Mountains

    Great Smoky Mountains

  • Shenandoah National Park

    Shenandoah National Park

If there is one thing we know about the United States, it’s that its landscape is beautiful, staggering, and unlike anywhere else in the world. There is breath taking route after breath taking route; and one of the most impressive is the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Route

The Blue Ridge Parkway is famous for its stunning beauty, taking you through two national parks and two national forests. The route is nearly 500 miles in total, taking over seven hours, but that’s if you drive it all in one go. We highly recommend taking at least a week to drive it, stopping off along the way in the parks and forests that make up the journey.

Start: Shenandoah National Park

Your starting off point is the Shenandoah National Park, in Virginia. You wouldn’t think that this was just a few hours from the USA’s place of power, Washington DC. The park is made up of 200,000 acres of incredible natural beauty, wildlife and hiking trails.

While hiking is a popular activity here, there are more ways to discover what treasures lay hidden in the forest. From Spring to Autumn, you can arrange a guided horseback trek. There are different routes you can take, some are narrower and rockier, designed for more experienced riders. Some are wider and smoother, and are more suited to those who haven’t been riding for that long.

If you like to have the benefit of height when it comes to getting those perfect holiday snaps, then rock climbing is the one for you. Like with the horse riding, there are different levels of difficulty for climbers. Before you head off on your climbing adventure, make sure you read the climbing guide to keep you safe, as well as protect the environment.

Next: George Washington and Jefferson National Forest

Just under two hours from the Shenandoah National Park, is the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. It was two forests, the George Washington and Thomas Jefferson respectively, but in the early 1990s they were combined to create one huge forest, of 1.8 million acres, spreading over Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky. Millions of people visit the forest each year to spot one of the 60 species that live there, take in the views at one of the three National Scenic Areas, or hike through one of the 12 National Recreational Trails.

Drive: Roanoke, Blacksburg, Johnson City

It’s a five-hour drive to the next national forest, but it’s still a scenic one, as you’re driving through the forest. You will also pass through cities and towns, including Roanoke, Blacksburg and Johnson City. This is a good opportunity to stop by some boutiques, meet the locals and dine on the local produce. If you’ve been camping all this time, there are plenty of hotels you can stay in if you’re craving a real bed.

Next: Cherokee National Forest

At this point on our journey along the Blue Ridge Parkway, we’ve crossed through Virginia to Tennessee, and have reached the Cherokee National Forest. This is the perfect place for adventurers, especially water lovers as there are plenty of places to go white water rafting. You can camp, climb, picnic, fish, and hike up to its scenic points to get a look at the side of Tennessee you don’t usually see.

Next: Great Smoky Mountains

One of the most iconic mountain ranges in America, the Great Smoky Mountains are a must-see on this route. The famous billows of smoke that hover over the mountains is actually fog, caused by Volatile Organic Compounds, a natural gas given off by the vegetation of the park. The VOCs also give the ‘smoke’ its blue tinge. This misty, blue air combined with the peaceful stillness of the mountain range results in an atmosphere so ethereal, it’s almost like you can reach out and touch it.

Great Smoky Mountains Most Famous Resident

 The Smokies aren’t just famous because of their beauty, but also because of a certain country superstar: Dolly Parton. She was raised in a small, one room log cabin in the foot of the mountain. Her eponymous theme park, Dollywood can be found at Pigeon Forge near the mountains.

Have you been inspired by the hazy blue mist of the Smoky Mountains, as well as the stunning forests of Virginia and Tennessee? Then, what are you waiting for? Jump in the car and discover the magnificent views of the south.