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BLOWING ROCK MY HOMETOWN

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Take a

Mountain Times Publications -

Blue Ridge Parkway getaway

BY JAMIE SHELL editor@averyjournal.com

For those wishing to escape the bustle and activity that can at times make Blowing Rock feel less of a getaway than usual, the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina offers a great opportunity to experience the beauty of creation without a long-distance drive from home. The Blue Ridge Parkway weaves through vibrant and engaging communities. Many visitors to the Parkway include visits to unique destinations in their journey. Extending for 469 miles along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains through North Carolina into Virginia, the Parkway was commissioned during the Franklin Roosevelt presidency in the mid 1930s, and was not fully completed until the construction and opening of the Linn Cove Viaduct, located near Grandfather Mountain in Avery County, in 1987. The Parkway features many natural wonders and sights that make the journey unforgettable. In addition to the destinations along the Parkway itself, the road meanders through historic towns offering fascinating exploration of the heritage and culture of the region along the way. A popular stop along the Parkway path near Blowing Rock is Moses H. Cone Park, located at milepost 294. In addition to adjacent Julian Price Lake (named for an insurance executive who made his fortune in the first part of the twentieth century, as well as the only lake on the Blue Ridge Parkway where paddling is allowed), the majestic 4,200acre area comprises the largest developed area set aside for public recreation on the Blue Ridge Parkway. While at Moses Cone estate, visitors can check out the Parkway’s official craft center at Flat Top Manor and watch mountain handicraft demonstrations. The estate includes a family cemetery to explore, as well as carriage and apple barn, in addition to a system

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BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY FOUNDATION The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is the primary and professional fundraising organization for the Blue Ridge Parkway. The role of the Foundation is to identify and cultivate the constituency of the Blue Ridge Parkway for philanthropic support. The Foundation only provides funding for those projects that enhance the quality of the visitor’s experience and have lasting value. In recent years, the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation has provided much needed funding for projects at Bass Lake and Julian Price Park. For more information, contact the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation at (866) 308-2773, or click to www.brpfoundation.org.

FILE PHOTO Moses H. Cone Memorial Park, with its trails, views and craft center, is one of the biggest attractions on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

FILE PHOTO One of the ways to enjoy the great outdoors of the Blue Ridge Parkway is to rent a boat for a leisurely float at Julian Price Lake, located at Milepost 297.

of carriage trails for a unique Parkway experience. Cone Park provides opportunities to walk along a nature trail or picnic in one of more than 100 picnic sites on the property. Visitors can camp under the starts at the Parkway’s largest campground and, on a seasonal basis, enjoy interpretive programs in a 300-

seat amphitheater or an evening campfire program. Visitors can view the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains from Flat Rock, located near Grandfather Mountain at Milepost 308. A short distance to the south will take visitors to Milepost 316 and Linville Falls Recreation Area, where trails and overlooks to

Linville Falls and Linville Gorge are available. Visitors are allowed to drive the Parkway free of charge, but commercial vehicles are prohibited without approval from Park Service Headquarters. In all, Blue Ridge Parkway offers nine campgrounds, as well as fishing opportunities in one of 13 lakes for those possessing the appropriate Virginia or North Carolina fishing license. Weather conditions, particularly in the late fall and through the winter months, have a major effect on travel across the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway is not maintained by road crews in the winter, and sections pass over especially high elevations and through tunnels that are often impassable and closed from late fall through early spring. Conditions can change quickly in the higher elevations of the High Country where the Parkway passes, so drivers are encouraged to check ahead on if the Parkway is open to traffic. For more information about the Blue Ridge Parkway, click to www.blueridgeparkway.org.

PARKWAY WONDERS JUST OUTSIDE BLOWING ROCK’S WINDOW The heart of no town lies closer to the Blue Ridge Parkway than does Blowing Rock. Downtown Blowing Rock is less than five miles from the Southern Highland Craft Guild Center at the Moses H. Cone Estate (closer, if you walk from Bass Lake). Some of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s greatest assets are closer to Blowing Rock than anywhere else. The Thunder Hill Overlook, with its majestic views and wonderful hiking trails are located at Parkway Milepost 290.3. On July 4, you can see a number of fireworks displays from the vantage point of Thunder Hill. At Milepost 294, you will find the Southern Highland Craft Center and Moses Cone Memorial Park. The park features 25 miles of carriage trails for hiking and horseback riding, 16-acre Trout Lake, 22-acre Bass Lake, observation tower, and Flat Top Manor. Julian Price Memorial Park, with its lake and fabulous campground, is found at Milepost 297. It includes a boathouse where visitors can rent kayaks, canoes and small rowboats. There are also plenty of overlooks and picnic areas on the Blue Ridge Parkway that are only minutes from Blowing Rock.

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