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Bluffs Lodge Along The Blue Ridge Parkway Shuttered For 2011


Lack of a concessionaire means the 24-room Bluffs Lodge and its coffee shop along the Blue Ridge Parkway will not open this year. Top photo by David and Kay Scott, coffee shop photo courtesy of Forever Resorts.

Bluffs Lodge, one of four lodging facilities along the Blue Ridge Parkway, will be closed for the 2011 season. 

The lodge and nearby coffee shop have been managed by Forever Resorts after taking over the contract in 2002 from National Park Concessions.  Forever Resorts decided to discontinue its operations on the Blue Ridge Parkway following several years of one-year contract extensions.  Forever Resorts was concessionaire at Rocky Knob Cabins, Mabry Mill, and Crabtree Falls in addition to Bluffs and the coffee shop.  All are on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Forever Resorts in April 2010 did not renew its concession at Lake Crescent Lodge in Olympic National Park.  That property was picked up under a 10-year contact by ARAMARK Parks and Destinations that operates Kalaloch and Sol Duc Hot Springs in the same park.  ARAMARK is also concessionaire for Lake Quinault Lodge in neighboring Olympic National Forest.

Bluffs Lodge has experienced several issues, including problems with a new roof and closure of portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway due to construction work on historic rock guardwalls.  The parkway is currently closed from milepost 241 to 245.5.  Beginning July of this year, the closure is expected to move north to a section between milepost 232.5 and 241.  The lodge is at milepost 241.  Current construction work on the rock guardwalls is expected to be complete by the spring of 2012.

Capital improvements are not typically made by concessionaires operating on one-year contract extensions, and understandably so.  Numerous short-term extensions at the same facility often result in a need for substantial expenditures by either the NPS or a new concessionaire.  Contract length has sometimes been a contentious issue between concessionaires and the National Park Service.

According to Lisa Davis, concessions specialist for the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is hoped that Bluffs Lodge and the nearby coffee shop will reopen for the 2012 season under a new concessionaire.  Bluffs relatively small size, with only 24 rooms, makes it difficult to operate profitably.

The gift shop at Crabtree Falls (formerly called Crabtree Meadows) will remain open and serve as a bookstore for Eastern National.  Snacks and other pre-packaged food items, visitor convenience items, and camping and picnic related items will also be offered for sale.

Rocky Knob Cabins and Mabry Mill will also remain open with a new concessionaire under a temporary two-year contract.

The two of us have stayed at Bluffs Lodge on six or seven occasions and our experiences have always been positive.  The rooms are dated, but we view this as part of the appeal, and it certainly blends perfectly with the coffee shop that hasn’t changed much in appearance since its construction in 1948.  On one occasion we walked to our room after checking in and discovered a guest from our neighboring room playing a harp on the balcony.  You don’t find that at a Holiday Inn.

Here’s hoping a new concessionaire soon comes forth and offers rooms to parkway travelers who enjoy a great place to spend the night.


What a shame!
The Bluffs Coffee Shop is such a highlight on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail goes right past the coffee shop and was such a welcome stop.
Danny Bernstein

We stayed at Bluffs Lodge last fall and enjoyed it very much. I'm sad to hear they won't be opening this year. It really is a great place to stop.

We were devastated by this news. Stopped by Bluffs Lodge every spring for the past 25 years, first on our motorcycle, later by car. Worthy of mention is that two of the waitresses in the coffee shop had worked there since it opened (1949?) and added much charm to the old fashioned atmosphere. This definitely will be a big loss to the experience. Sure hope another operator steps in - and maintains the same late 40's look of the place. If memory serves me, this was the first lodge built on the BRP.

This is a real loss. Although I've stayed in the nearby campground instead of Bluffs Lodge in recent years, the lodge is a wonderful throwback to the Parkway's early days and its plain, simple rooms are part of its charm. The ranger programs on the patio, with the fireplace blazing and a peaceful highland meadow as a backdrop, have offered one of the finest places to gather in the southern Appalachians.

Sad to hear this. One of my favorite "must stops" when traveling that part of the Parkway. Hopefully it reopens next year.

Had just gotten on the internet to see about booking at the Bluffs for our 30th anniversary trip we will take late summer and am so sad to see it has closed.  We loved the old rooms and the cool breezes through the windows.  This was a truly wonderful place to get away from it all and relax. I also loved the coffee shop.  Hope it reopens soon

We have stayed at Bluffs Lodge every fall for over 25 years, and it has been our haven from the over-busy work world - the one place we could get back in touch with ourselves and each other.  The unique part of Bluffs Lodge was the fellowship with the other guests.  The balconies were open, so you saw your neighbors as they came and went.  And best of all was sitting on the patio in the evenings sharing the big stone firepace, swapping stories, and finding out how many parts of the US and other countries we represented.

We hope Bluffs Lodge will reopen with its unique character intact, and that we will once again see Ellen, Katherine, and Eva, along with the "kids" Shannon and Amanda, and all the others.

Oh no!!  We were just checking in because our plan was to use our "chicken card" and call ahead for tomorrow for some scrumptious fried chicken! 

We too, like the other commenters, just LOVE Bluff's Lodge and are sad to see it closed.  I hope it is opened again soon, and that all of us will meet sometime at the fireplace, or over biscuits and jelly.

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