Blue Ridge Parkway

America’s Most Beautiful Highway?

TheBlue Ridge Parkwaywhich runs for 469 miles between the states ofVirginiaandNorth Carolinais arguably one of the country’s most scenic roads. It runs along the ridge of the southernAppalachiansand connectsShenandoah National Parkin the north toGreat Smoky Mountainsin the south.

Though not a National Park itself, it is administered by the National Park Service and might as well be one, though it is somewhat longer and skinnier than usual.

Water Rock Knob, North Carolina. October, 2000
Photographed with a Hasselblad XPan and 90mm lens on Provia 100F.

The Parkway features countless turnoffs and overlooks, seemingly one every few miles. Remarkably, the Park Service also permits careful parking on the shoulder of the road, something that is universally prohibited in National Parks. This allows for far more photographic opportunities than would be otherwise available.

The town ofMaggie Valleyis an ideal base for exploring bothGreat Smokyand the southern end of theParkway. It is much less crowded and tacky than the town ofCherokee

Blue Ridge Parkway, Fog #1. North Carolina. October, 2000
Photographed with a Hasselblad XPan and 45mm lens on Provia 100F.

I had been shooting by the side of the road along the Parkway, nearMaggie Valley, when a Park Ranger pulled over, said "Good morning", and we chatted for a few minutes before he continued driving eastward up the Parkway.

A short while later I saw him coming back and once again he pulled up, just as I was reloading my gear in the car. "There’s a beautiful sight just a couple of miles along, with rays of sunlight coming through the trees. If I had a camera, I’d sure be shooting it before it’s gone."

I hopped in the car and drove a short way up the road. This photograph resulted. Who says that Southern hospitability is dead?