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Old 03-22-2015, 03:19 PM   #1
Jarlaxle OP
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Thumb Blue Ridge Parkway

Now that my vacation has been approved (I only submitted it a month ago...), I can start planning in earnest: I want to ride the Blue Ridge this summer. I'm off work for Independence Day starting July 3rd...probably spending the weekend with my mother in RI. (I live in New Hampshire.) I need to be back by no later than the 16th. (I managed to get tickets to Billy Joel's Fenway concert.)

Tentative plan is basically a highway run down, take 3-4 days to run the Parkway (considering riding it both ways), then head home...also considering going (haven't decided which way) via the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

So...good plan? Bad plan? Plan needs tweaking?
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Old 03-22-2015, 04:34 PM   #2
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Keep it simple and you can change on the fly as weather, time, and interests dectate. Keep in mind that July 4th weekend means lots of traffic on the highways and the parkway. Allow yourself time and patience to deal with it.
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Old 03-22-2015, 05:02 PM   #3
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I realize that...I do not plan to get to the Parkway until Monday, maybe Tuesday. I don't plan anything resembling a rigid schedule (well, aside from not getting caught in the Connecticut-New York-New Jersey-Philly goat-grab at rush hour).
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Old 03-22-2015, 05:16 PM   #4
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Sounds like a great trip. You've got plenty of time to run it End-to-End .. with all the great side trips tossed in. Don't forget to get off the parkway and ride all the great squiggly gap roads once in a while. You'll be glad you did.

Also with plenty of time, you should be able to ride around the dragon, cherohala, foothills and the loop on 441 all before turning back home. All well worth doing when you're that close.
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Old 03-22-2015, 05:25 PM   #5
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You may want to drop in on us. Linky
14th Rick's Eastern Rendezvous -- May 13-17, 2015 -- Hampton, TN
It's an ADV rally and one of the best, probably looking at 200+ inmates.
Take ya less than an hour from the parkway in Boone NC.
Better time than any concert.
At least look at the thread and see what and who will be there.
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Old 03-22-2015, 05:28 PM   #6
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Wrong month, dude...that's May, I'm going in July.
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Old 03-22-2015, 05:53 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarlaxle View Post
Wrong month, dude...that's May, I'm going in July.
Oh, crap...sorry mate.

Saying that, you will love July it's cool in the mountains compared to the flat lands.
Don't be on the BRP at sun set or after dark, way to many deer and critters. And you may still get bad fog in the mornings, I don't know why they call it fog cu's its clouds coming thru.
There are a lot of MC camp grounds up and down the BRP....well not on the Parkway but just off it.
Try http://www.blueridgemotorcyclecamp.com it's 15 mins of the BRP in Crusco then check out Wheels through time museum. Well worth the trip down. Takes about an hour from Steves. Don't bother pulling off to see Boone NC, there's nothing there, I should know I work at the Uni. If you stop at Blowing rock it's the same and 10 mins of the parkway.
Watch your speed in VA, they are very keen and you don't want a ticket cu's it's a federal. Most of the way is It's 45mph I usually run it at 55 but I don't see that happening in July cu's of traffic. Don't carry on the BRP it's not worth it if you are stopped and it's not on you, Causes a lots off tension if you need to open something to show its safe.
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Old 03-22-2015, 06:52 PM   #8
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Honestly...one reason I'm going in July is I'm not sure all the snow will be gone here by May!

Not planning on camping...my back has informed me that each day on the road will end with a hot shower and a mattress. (My wife has informed me of the same thing.)
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Old 03-22-2015, 06:54 PM   #9
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It's an aggressive plan, timewise. You won't have much time to ride anything but the Parkway itself. There are many superlative roads off the Parkway toward the southern end.

I've ridden the Parkway four times in the last five years. Three of those times, I went in September or October; once I went in June. September is ideal; summer tourist season isn't. So first of all, my advice is to temper your expectations. That time of July, the traffic is going to be frustrating at times. (At least you won't do what I did last year -- arrive in Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Columbus Day weekend in the rain -- the absolute worst tourism experience possible.)

OK, let's say you've already accepted that you'll occasionally get stuck behind RVs and SUVs and Priuses and you have resolved to remain calm when it happens. Here's some more advice:

Last October I took the Auto Train from Florida to DC, then visited my son in college on Long Island, then I rode down the Garden State Parkway and took the ferry from Cape May to Lewes, then rode across Delaware into Maryland, around DC (northern part of the Beltway) then to Warrenton, Va., and took Hwy. 211 to the midway point of Skyline Drive. There's a thrilling section of Hwy 211, the last few miles before you reach the Drive, that's not to be missed. I started out at dawn that day in Cape May and ended up at Loft Mountain Campground on Skyline Drive, and it was a long, tiring day with the freaking Beltway traffic and all. So that's Day One and I wasn't even on the Parkway yet. The upside is that the ride across Delaware, and much of Hwy 211, is picturesque. In Delaware, a bald eagle soared about 40 feet directly overhead. So cool.

Day 2, I rode from Loft Mountain to Rocky Knob Campground on the Parkway (192 miles, about 6 hours of riding time).

Day 3, I rode from Rocky Knob to Linville Falls Campground (149 miles and about 4:30 of riding time).

Day 4, Linville Falls to Mount Pisgah (92 miles, about 2:40 riding time).

Day 5, I rode a few miles to Balsam Mountain Campground, but you'd probably just ride to the end of the Parkway.

When you look at my mileage and the riding time, you might think I was riding slowly. But actually, I was going fast while my wheels were turning. But I stopped a lot. It's almost impossible to avoid stopping at the lookouts. Everything is so pretty. As you get south, you'll be tempted (yield to the temptation) to stop at the Music Center, Craggy Gardens, the Folk Art Center, and the crazy Linn Cove Viaduct next to Grandfather Mountain. If you have time for just one of those places, and you like to walk in the woods, stop at Craggy Gardens.

Another thing: Linville Falls to Mount Pisgah is only 92 miles, but you can easily triple that mileage that day because some of the best motorcycle roads on the planet are around there. I highly recommend taking the US 276 - NC 215 - US 64 - US 276 loop. Highlights of that loop are US 276 south between the Parkway and Brevard, and the section of NC 215 north of the Parkway, between the Parkway and Lake Logan. This loop will take two or three hours, without photo stops.

Also, just north of Mount Pisgah, there's a road nicknamed the Devil's Drop, officially known as Hwy 151. It's a short ride, maybe six miles each way. It is absolutely insane. Don't pass that road. You have to go down it. Then you'll turn around and go back up. Then you'll reach the Parkway, turn around, and descend the Devil's Drop again. It rivals the Dragon, but with hardly any traffic. I've gone down and up it without encountering another vehicle in either direction. (And a few other times I wasn't so lucky.)

Seriously, man -- don't miss Hwy 151, or Hwy 215 between the Parkway and Lake Logan. I mean it.

As I look at the above itinerary, I come away with a few suggestions: Stay in hotels instead of camping, because that will extend your riding days. Put in higher-mileage Parkway days early, on the northern end of the Parkway. As you get south, take some side roads. Do your research and you'll find some cool ones. For example, I haven't even mentioned the road past Little Switzerland. I think doing the Parkway in three days is too fast -- you'll miss too much.

Also, at the very first stop at the north end of the Parkway -- about 15 miles in -- there's a store where you can pick up a printout that tells you which exits where fuel is available. Get that piece of paper.

I recommend googling America Rides Maps and buying some of those maps.

Merckx the Cannibal screwed with this post 03-22-2015 at 07:15 PM
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Old 03-22-2015, 07:18 PM   #10
Jarlaxle OP
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If I won't have time to do anything, maybe I won't bother...just stay home and get drunk.
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Old 03-22-2015, 07:44 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merckx the Cannibal View Post

I've ridden the Parkway four times in the last five years. Three of those times, I went in September or October; once I went in June. September is ideal; summer tourist season isn't.
When you say summer tourist season, how early does that begin? How is the end of May?
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Old 03-23-2015, 03:25 AM   #12
mikegc
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Blue Ridge Parkway

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarlaxle View Post
If I won't have time to do anything, maybe I won't bother...just stay home and get drunk.
I've ridden the Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway the week of the Fourth of July and the traffic wasn't that bad. We started in Front Royal, VA and spent the first night in Roanoke. The second night, we made it to Blowing Rock, NC and finished up the next day. The advice you received about the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley was excellent. It's well worth a stop!

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Old 03-23-2015, 06:30 AM   #13
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I live on the parkway and somehow or other seem to ride it kinda frequently. In the summer bikes outnumber cars at least three to one.
Yes, they do enforce speed limits that are frustratingly slow. Leaf season is even slower. Yes, gas is available about every 10 miles. Plenty of B&B's, cabin rentals, lodges and of course chain motels. Several neighbors do the air b&b thing.
Use the parkway as a means to travel between some fantastic riding areas, riding for an extended period of time at thirty five or forty miles an hour is boring. The entire region around Asheville has fantastic riding and good places for spending the night but is a bit far for your time frame.
On my end of the BRP we have Floyd VA with some interesting riding and good food. Draper VA is another nice place to overnight. Galaxy VA has Chestnut Creek cabins and a micro brewery with excellent food. Several of the wineries around here also have small cabins for overnighting.
I highly recommend you ride Hwy 16 and pass through Hungry Mothers State Park.You could use Hwy 16 to head back north a ways, great road. Two riding websites with some maps - visitvirginiamountains.com and blureridgemotorcycling.com PM me if you decide to visit this end for a day or two.
The BRP is a fantastic route but really think of it as a way to get to the good riding. Bicycling is probably the best way to ride the whole BRP.
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Old 03-23-2015, 07:20 AM   #14
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I have ridden from Cherokee to Waynesville in a day, but did not make a lot of stops. Scenery improves the further south you go.
Pick up a BRP book at the first visitor center. It has information on gas, local attractions and ads for food and lodging near the parkway.
Fourth of July weekend may be crowded, but my times on the parkway during June, July and August last year found very little time stuck in traffic. While this year could be different, the WinniWastos seem to be getting extinct on the parkway.
The slow speed limit and many overlooks do not make for high speed travel, but the interstate does. The parkway has no stop signs, no traffic lights and supposedly no commercial traffic. I find it to be faster than traveling nearby two lanes and more scenic than many.

Bob
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Old 03-23-2015, 11:48 AM   #15
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Am I the only person to ride the BRP 'quickly' ? my favorite speed is 65, north of Asheville and 55 south of. knock on wood...yearly for the past 10 at least! no camping for you is ok, But Willville MC campground at Meadows of Dan and Blueridge Mc campground at Cruso NC both have camper cabins--$50 +/- Both placeS are a REAL BIKER EXPERIENCE.

I found most all the overlooks on the Parkway to be overgrown with little view left. I found the 35mph section in Va to have very clean overlooks and continuous scenery--that I rode at 35 because there was just too much to see.

Floyd Va is the place to be on Friday evening.
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