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Blue Ridge Parkway Sets Opening Schedule

Humpback Rocks Picnic Area Blue Ridge Parkway

Humpback Rocks Picnic Area, at Milepost 8.5, opens April 6th, 2012 and closes November 13th. It's good to beware of bruins in a Parkway picnic area that's also surrounded by thousands of acres of national forest. Photo by Randy Johnson.

With spring underway early in the Appalachians, the facilities along “America’s most scenic drive” are preparing to open. For a complete rundown on the facilities below (location, features, etc.) see our Essential Guide on the Parkway.

The Pisgah Inn south of Asheville opens today, but some visitor sites are open year-round and will be available before most other facilities start opening, usually in early or late April or early May.

Year-Round—Open now in Asheville are the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center (9-5) and the Folk Art Center (both closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day/ with Folk Art open 9-6, April 1 – October 31, 9-5 rest of the year).

The Museum of North Carolina Minerals near Spruce Pine is also open (until April 30, 2012, 9-12 & 1-5/ May 1 – October 31, 9-5), as is Price Park picnic area near Blowing Rock. In Virginia, Peaks of Otter Lodge/Restaurant/Lounge/and Gift Shop are open at Milepost 85.9.

Campgrounds—The Parkway’s nine campgrounds get the season started on April 2nd and 6th at Linville Falls, NC and Otter Creek, VA, and close October 28. The road’s other campgrounds open May 11 and also  close October 28.

Plan ahead and book campsites at the campgrounds that take reservations at a portion of their sites. Those are Peaks of Otter in Bedford, VA, and in NC, Mount Pisgah in Waynesville, Linville Falls near Spruce Pine, and Julian Price in Blowing Rock. Last fall, Rocky Knob Campground on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 167 just south of Floyd, VA also started accepting reservations. Book at all these campgrounds through

Visitor Centers—Early season visitor center openings are often limited to weekends, a schedule that can start as late as 10 am and include a lunch closure, before going full-time, seven days a week, with hours in some spots as long as 9-6. 

North to south, in Virginia, abbreviated opening information for visitor centers includes Humpback Rocks (April 27 - May 26, 10-5 /May 27 – November 4, 9-5); James River (May 24 – October 31, 9-5); Peaks of Otter, (May 4 – May 26, 9-5, Closed Tuesday/Wednesday/ May 27 – October 31, 7 Days a Week 9-5); Rocky Knob (May 19 & 20, 9-5/ May 26–October 28, 7 Days, 9-5); Blue Ridge Music Center (May 4 – May 26, 9-5, Closed Tues & Wed/ May 27 – Oct 28, 7 Days 9-5.

In North Carolina, visitor centers start at Moses Cone Manor (Info desk and bookstore, April 27 – May 26, 9-12 & 1-5/ May 27- November 4, 9-5); the Cone Manor’s Parkway Craft Center (March 15 – November 30, 9-5); Linn Cove (April 27 – May 26, 9-12 & 1-5/ May 27 – November 4, 9-5); and Linville Falls (April 27 - May 26,    9-12 & 1-5/ May 27 –November 4, 9-5).

The high elevation climate and remoteness of Craggy Gardens explains its convoluted schedule (April weekends, 10-4/ April 23 – May 26, 10-4/ May 27 – June 30, 9-5, July 1 – July 31, 10-6/ August 1 – October 31, 9-5, November 1 – November 4, 10-4). The similarly modest Waterrock Knob visitor center is open April 27 – May 26, 10-5 / May 27 – November 4, 10-5)

Concessions—A few Parkway concessions will be closed in 2012 while new concessionaires are found. Those are Otter Creek Restaurant and Gift Shop, in VA, and Bluffs Lodge/Restaurant/Gift Shop at Milepost 241.1 in Doughton Park, NC.

At Peaks of Otter, VA, the little Peaks Country Store operates weekends in May, then the same season as the bus that takes passengers up Sharp Top (June 1 – October 28 / Wed. – Sundays; 9-5, with bus 10-5 on the hour).

Rocky Knob Cabins at Milepost 174.1 operates May 1 – October 31, office, 8 –11, 3–7, check in 4 pm). The Mabry Mill Restaurant/Gift Shop at Milepost 176.2 (May 1 – October 31 Daily, 8 – 6).

In NC, the Northwest Trading Post Gift and Craft Shop is at Milepost 258.8 (May 1 – October 31, 9 am – 5 pm). Price Park Lake Boat Rentals at Milepost 297.1 operates daily May 1-September 30, 8:30–7, and weekends in April and October). The Crabtree Falls Eastern National Sales Outlet at Milepost 339.5, has WiFi/snack foods/beverages/camping supplies (May 1–October 31, 9–5 pm).

Pisgah Inn/Restaurant/Gift Shop/and Country Store south of Asheville at Milepost 408.6 opens March 27 and operates through breakfast on November 4.

Picnic AreasPicnicking is a classic Parkway event. The full service restrooms and water fountains at Price Park open April 30. In VA, Peaks of Otter and Humpback Rocks picnic areas are open April 6 to November 13. In NC, Linville Falls is open April 6 to October 28. All Other Parkway picnic areas debut May 11 and close October 28.


I was so hoping that Otter Creek and Bluff's resturants would be open this year, sad to have them closed.  Still miss the resturant at Whetstone Ridge.   I am glad that it's just to find vendors though, not permanent. 
Over the last 32 years, the wife and I have spent untold hours on the Blue Ridge Parkway along it's whole length and before we met each other, it was long a favorite of my family growing up in Lynchburg.   
Thank You ..........  :)

I agree on Les W comment. We have gone to Bluff's and the lodge for so many years. Was so hoping something would work out before this summer.  If I won the lottery(I'd have to play), I'd run up there and put a Open sign in the windows as soon as I could!!!

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