Motorcycle Touring the Blue Ridge Parkway – Crabtree Falls Visitor Center – Is it worth the stop?

So what does the Crabtree Falls Visitor Center offer those on a motorcycle tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway and is it worth a stop?

Image located at http://www.ncwaterfalls.com/crabtree1.htm

Image from NC Waterfalls site -http://www.ncwaterfalls.com/crabtree1.htm. For detailed info and more photos use the link.

http://www.ncwaterfalls.com/crabtree1.htm

If you pull into the Crabtree Falls Visitor Center near milepost 339.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway expecting to see a dramatic and breathtaking cascade you’ll be disappointed. The waterfall is a mile hike distant down a rough trail, not the ideal venue for riding boots and gear. Should you want to see the falls, come prepared to change into something more appropriate for the hike to reach it. Of course, if you’re spending a night at the campground (71 tent and 22 RV sites, May – October, $14) it’s a must do.

Photo - Visitor Center at Crabtree Falls

The Visitor Center at Crabtree Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Visitor Center serves as a convenience store for the campground and parkway traffic. You can get snacks and sandwiches, drinks, and limited supplies.

Photo - seating area at the Crabtree Falls Visitor Center

Seating area at the Crabtree Falls Visitor Center where you can savor your snacks

There’s an indoor seating area as well as a porch, though I would consider the views of a small clearing surrounded by trees all that inspiring. Still, it’s a nice and quiet place to spend a break.

Photo - Gift Shop at Crabtree Falls Visitor Center

One section of the Gift Shop at Crabtree Falls Visitor Center

The Visitor Center at Crabtree Falls is as much a gift shop as it is a convenience store with the usual craft and parkway related items.

Photo - Inside the visitor center at Crabtree Falls

Supplies are limited, but you won't starve if you come in off the road looking to camp.

So is it worth a stop on your motorcycle vacation? If you’re making your motorcycle trip by camping along the way it might just be the nice quiet campground that you’re looking for. It’s certainly a good pit stop for those passing through who need break, a bathroom, and a little something to sustain them on their way.

For info about other waterfalls on or near the Blue Ridge Parkway look at Virtual Blue Ridge -Parkway Waterfalls.

If you’re really into seeing roadside waterfalls, check out America Rides Maps 2 map bundle – The Carolina Waterfall Tour with nearly 2 dozen roadside cascades to enjoy with little if any walking.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBrB5lrtZ9I

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

 

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

 

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See ME in Road Bike Magazine Sept Issue

Photo - Wayne from America Rides Maps with copies of Road Bike Magazine

A nice feature article in Road Bike Magazine by Neal Bayley and Jim Miller

September, 2010 issue of Road Bike Magazine just hit the stands and my smiling face graces the pages. Look for the “Maggie Valley Mayhem” article.

wayne@americaridesmaps.com

http://AmericaRidesMaps.com

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

 

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

 

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Good News / Bad News at Onion Mountain Road Near Franklin

Photo - work on Onion Mountain road

For a road that is going nowhere, they are doing a nice job of getting you there. Lets hope they find the funds to finish it this year.

On my way back from Georgia I decided to make a detour to investigate the progress on Onion Mountain Road east of Franklin, NC. This is one of my “pet” roads, one I’ve been watching ever since they started paving it last year. The work completed prior to the winter shut down really got my hopes up that this ridge top two lane would eventually be completely paved once warmer weather returned. The good news is the crews are back at it.

The bad news though, puts a damper on the whole situation. I was excited to follow a dump truck up the winding road, though a little dismayed to see the weight of the passing trucks was already damaging what had been an excellent paving job. Proceeding out onto the gravel section (no change from where  it had begun last year), I soon ran into the work crew. They have no expectation to complete the paving all the way through this year, funding has been cut. Why they are bothering with what they are doing is a mystery to me, it will be just another road to nowhere.

I’ll keep watching. Once paved, Onion Mountain Road will link a number a great motorcycle roads and allow you to avoid pretty but heavily trafficked US 64. I went ahead and added more of the surrounding roads to my America Rides Maps motorcycle pocket map “The Best Roads South of Great Smoky Mountains National Park – WEST” and am considering adding a few more once I give them another look. We’ll see how things develop.

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

 

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

 

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Motorcycle Touring on the Blue Ridge Parkway – Doughton Park

Photo - Doughton Park facilities

View of the Bluffs Restaurant and facilities on the Parkway

There are numerous places to stop as you cruise along the Blue Ridge Parkway from overlooks to attractions and places which offer concessions and lodging. I usually blow right past them preferring to find places off the Blue Ridge Parkway when I’m in need of something. On a recent pass through, Jackie’s lunch alarm was in the red zone so it was convenient to stop and check out Doughton Park. So what does it offer the motorcycle traveler?

Photo - dining at Doughton Park

Simple and homestyle, the accommodations at the restaurant match the fare.

Doughton Park is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway between mileposts 238.5 and 244.7 as the scenic roadway gets ready to enter Virgina. It’s a 6000 acre tract of parkland featuring open meadows good for seeing critters in the early and late hours. Doughton Park also offers a lodge, a restaurant, picnic areas, a campground, trailer sites, and comfort stations. There are 30 miles or so of hiking trails here and some nice views of the surroundings, a couple historic cabins (pioneer cabins include the Brinegar Cabin (ca. 1885) and the one-room Caudill Cabin (ca. 1895)), and a few overlooks. Views are nice, but not as dramatic as found elsewhere. The facilities are located and milepost 241.1.

Photo - the sandwiches

Sandwiches reminded me of a visit to Grandma's. They were both good and ample.

We stopped for lunch so the Bluffs Restaurant was the focus of our visit. Food is served “family style” and reported to be “home style cooking”. With just one meal here, I can’t provide a review of the main meals. We ordered a couple sandwiches which were reminiscent of a visit to grandmas.  Nothing exotic, plain American yellow cheese, maybe it was our white haired server, but it sure dug up memories of what I remember from those childhood visits. I suppose it lands squarely in the “comfort food” category, and  honestly, I enjoyed the experience and it filled the hole quite well.

Photo of the Doughton Park Lodge buildings

A quick look at the Lodge then back on the road.

We rode over to look at the Lodge but I have not stayed there. From my experiences with stays at Parkway facilities, they are vintage, but well maintained. For the price, I prefer to look off the Parkway as I can usually stay some place nicer (like the Switzerland Inn at milepost 334). For a more rustic experience, Rocky Knob Cabins are located a milepost 174.

Photo of the restaurant at Doughton Park

Mid afternoon, we missed the lunch crowds. It's a good pit stop if you're trying to make time.

For your motorcycle vacation I’d categorize Doughton Park as a good pit stop. Use the facilities, get a quick meal, take a break. To really enjoy and get the full experience, the Lodge fits the bill though I’m not impressed enough at this point to label this a “must see” location on your motorcycle tour.

Blue Ridge Parkway
Doughton Park

Bluffs Lodge & Restaurant
Milepost 241
(336) 372-4499

Doughton Park is located on America Rides MapsNorth Carolina / Virginia Border Rides

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

 

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

 

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Alcohol Vote Great News For The Lodge at Copperhead Motorcycle Resort

Photo - Vote Yes Sign worked

They Voted YES! Alcohol sales are now legal in Union County, Georgia

Emerging from the transition to new ownership, Tuesdays vote to allow alcohol sales in Union County, Georgia, may be just the shot in the arm needed to get The Lodge at Copperhead Motorcycle Resort back up to speed. Located a few miles west of Blairsville just off US 515 / 76, The Lodge at Copperhead couldn’t be better located to serve as a base camp for those looking to ride the best motorcycle roads in north Georgia and I know of no other motorcycle resort in the region which offers the level of service and quality of accommodations found here – it’s simply outstanding.

Easy to reach for motorcycle riders in Atlanta, Charlotte, Columbia, and Chattanooga, and an already popular destination with the throngs of motorcycle touring enthusiasts in Florida, The Lodge at Copperhead sits in the heart of the best motorcycle riding in the Peach State and is within a convenient distance to the Dragon at Deals Gap and the wealth of great motorcycle rides across the border in Tennessee, North and South Carolina.

Photo - The Lodge at Copperhead

The Lodge at Copperhead Motorcycle Resort is under new ownership and ready for your visit.

Both lodge rooms and cabins are available. Specifically designed to serve the needs and desires of those on a motorcycle vacation, The Lodge at Copperhead offers the traveler a comfortable and luxurious setting to relax in after a day of enjoying the fantastic roads through the surrounding hills and mountains.

Look at those porches with the comfortable chairs, the pool table, and the outdoor fireplace, and imagine you and your friends enjoying a relaxing beverage from the bar as you talk of the days adventures and plan for more tomorrow. Take a dip in the pool during the summer heat, or cozy up to the fireplace inside the lodge on the cooler evenings in the big comfortable furnishings. Enjoy a great meal at the restaurant in the evening or stock up at breakfast for a full day of riding fun.

Photo - inside the Lodge at Copperhead

Comfortable, luxurious, and welcoming, relax in the lodge. Dining Room in the background.

Peaceful, relaxing, away from the crowds, traffic, and congestion found elsewhere, The Lodge at Copperhead is located almost square in the center of America Rides MapsThe Best Rides in the North Georgia Mountains“, the most complete map of more than 25 of the best mountain motorcycle rides in the state. Choose any direction and within minutes you’re cruising along the sweeping curves or carving your way through the winding back roads.

Photo - view of the porch at the Lodge at Copperhead

This is the mountains, so count on spending a lot of time enjoying the fresh air and good conversation on the porches. Note the fireplace in the corner.

Photo - porch at the Lodge at Copperhead

Plenty of room on the porches to find just the right spot.

Photo - the bar at the Lodge at Copperhead

The well equipped bar offers yet another cozy refuge.

The Lodge at Copperhead Motorcycle Resort is destined to become the premier motorcycle resort at the gateway to the Smoky Mountains and the thousands and thousands of miles of great two lane mountain roads which begin in the northern corner of Georgia.

Photo - view of the cabins at the Copperhead Motorycle Resort

If you're looking for more privacy ask about a cabin - close enough to walk to the facilities but distant enough to be apart from the activity.

Photo - the pool and stage at the Lodge at Copperhead

Enjoy the pool during the day and entertainment on some evenings. Notice the stage, the decks, and the grassy hill to view and enjoy the shows.

The Lodge at Copperheadhttp://TheLodgeAtCopperhead.com

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

 

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

 

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Visit the Punkin Center Motorcycle Resort at the Dragon – a bunch of photos and info

Photo - Punkin Center Motorcycle Resort

Store and gas at the Punkin Center Motorcycle Resort - there's so much more here.

I made a stop at the Punkin Center Motorcycle Resort yesterday located at the Tennessee end of the Dragon at Deals Gap and came away impressed with all it has to offer.

Photo - street view of Punkin Cneter Motorcycle Resort

It's more than just a convenient navigation marker at the junction of US 129 and TN 72, the trun to make the Cherohala Loop Ride

Located at the junction of US 129 and Tn 72, the turn to make the loop ride with the Cherohala Skyway, and just of the road from the Foothills Parkway,  it’s a very convenient landmark for navigation, but there are good reasons to stop in.

Photo - Punkin Center Motorcycle Resort and the PitStop

You can't miss it when approaching from the north, the Punkin Center Pit Stop is just across the street.

There’s the store of course with souveniers, gear, and accessories. Then there’s the new motel. Next to that is the BBQ restaurant. They have gas outside the store. Jody’s a great source of information. Still, there’s more.

Photo - Inside the sore at the Punkin Center Motorcycle Resort

The store at the Punkin Center Motorcycle Resort is packed with goodies.

Just up the road is the campground and cabins. There’s a deli here and they serve beer. There’s a stage for entertainment.

Photo - the Campground at the Punkin Center Motorcycle Resort

In the middle of the afternoon the campground was deserted - everyone was out riding

There’s not much the Punkin Center Motorcycle Resort doesn’t offer.

Photo - one of the cabins at the Punkin Cneter Motorcycle Resort

One of the cabins at the campground up the street

Did I mention there’s a bunkhouse behind the store for groups? It’s all here.

Photo - the Punkin Center Campground Hub

The office and Deli at the Punkin Center Motorcycle Resort Campground - good food and beer available

I came on a Tuesday and the restaurant was closed for the day – shame as I came hungry. Maybe next time. It was the middle of the afternoon and while the campground was full, everyone was out riding. Great day for it, hot sunny, and so many good rides nearby.

Photo - the Punkin Center Motel

The closest motel to the Dragon - new, nice, and clean, the Punkin Center Motel

I’ll be returning to sample the food and learn more about this great spot for the motorcycle touring enthusiast. Friendly people, everything you need, everything clean and spotless, it’s well run and I can recommend it from what I’ve seen.

You should check into the Punkin Center Motorcycle Resort. http://punkincentermotorcycleresort.com

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

 

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

 

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Temporary Blue Ridge Parkway Closures in Asheville This Week – Suggestions

Photo - Detour sign on the Blue Ridge Parkway

It's not a detour, it's an opportunity to explore!

Was it too good to be true? Finally, the Blue Ridge Parkway opens from end to end after 18 months of problems and here we go again – more closures to add spice to your motorcycle vacation. Parts of the “commuter section” of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville will be closed this week as a tree trimming crew works it’s way north through the area from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM each day. You’re not missing much in the way of motorcycle touring or scenery in this closed section. The Parkway is reaching its low point near the city to cross the French Broad River and there is little to see, though the park headquarters and visitor center are located here. It’s referred to as the “commuter section” as so many locals use the Parkway to skirt around the southeast side of the city and avoid the traffic.

The section where the closures will occur is between the NC 191 exit at MP 393 near the Arboretum on the southwest side of  Asheville to the US 70 Exit (a.k.a. Tunnel Road / Oteen) at milepost 383. The crew will start near 191 and work north. I’m not sure why they need to completely close down the road – I went through some pretty heavy tree work in Virginia and they were only holding up traffic as needed to do the trimming and clear the debris, nor are the trees in this section particularly close to or overhanging the road. Maybe they are planning to drop some of the big ones.

As for alternative routes, it’s going to be nearly impossible to avoid going through the city. I suggest you make the most of it and see what’s makes Asheville so much fun and unique. Of course you can just follow the detours and take I-40 as directed, though I try to avoid the US 70 exit and Tunnel Road – it’s congested and there are a lot of accidents in that area, though getting on the Interstate is not difficult. Nor is the 191 end of things all that attractive, but you gotta get through it. Consider taking a little extra time and getting off the Blue Ridge Parkway at the next exit north at Town Mountain Road.

Town Mountain Road is one of my suggested good rides. It’s nice and twisty, passes by the Grove Park Inn and Spa (drinks on the veranda anyone? Oh, so nice), then dumps you right in the heart of downtown. Passing through the city on your motorcycle tour gives you the opportunity to find some outstanding dining and discover why it won the “Beer City” award again this year at one of the numerous microbreweries. As there’s really so little to see on the closed section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and so much to discover in Asheville, why not make the most of it? That way you’ll be ahead of the game for next years Asheville Bikefest and Blue Ridge Run and already know some of the hot spots.

Discover the thousands of miles of great motorcycle touring roads in the surrounding mountainsAmerica Rides Maps

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12 Classic Deals Gap Motorcycle Rides now at Thunder Mountain

Photo - Thunder Mountain Country Store and Deli

Photo from Thunder Mountain Country Store and Deli - http://thundermountainnc.com/

America Rides Maps newest map, 12 Classic Deals Gap Motorcycle Rides, is now available at the Thunder Mountain Country Store and Deli located at the Robbinsville end of the Cherohala Skyway. You can’t miss it as you carve through the tight curves at the start of the the Cherohala. Say hello to Paul and Tina when you stop in for gas or refreshments on your motorcycle ride.

Now that the rock slide has been resolved on the Dragon at Deals Gap, the motorcycle traffic is really picking up again and riding the Cherohala loop is one of the prime attractions for motorcycle touring. Tennessee’s version of the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s a very similar motorcycle ride with it’s high vantage points and overlooks, paved pull-outs, and quality pavement. After the Dragon, it’s the most popular motorcycle ride in the area and well worth the time.

Be aware enforcement is heavy right now with 8 troopers in the Dragon yesterday. Don’t be silly or you WILL pay the price. With a heavy weekend predicted, I’d suspect they’ll be out in force. Also be careful – I regret to relate there was a motorcycle fatality on the Cherohala yesterday, and the passenger was airlifted to Knoxville. I don’t know the details, it was unfolding while I was there.

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Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle Road Construction Report / photos 7-14-10

Photo - stopped on the Blue Ridge Parkway

A short delay between Mt. Mitchell and Craggy Gardens near the roadwork.

I took a motorcycle ride through the North Carolina section of the Blue Ridge Parkway to confirm my suspicions this morning. Even with the heavy fog up high it was clear that the bulk of the Blue Ridge Parkway paving work in North Carolina has been completed. While work continues, the major roadwork between Asheville and Mt. Mitchell is done and you may expect smooth new pavement on your next motorcycle ride.

Photo - section of new Blue Ridge Parkway guardrail

The new wooden guardrails are much heavier and a little higher than the ones they replace

The focus has now shifted to the margins of the road as the drainage is being cleaned and groomed, trees are being trimmed, and most significantly, new wooded guardrails are being installed. You will hit short delays when you come upon this work. North of Mt. Mitchell State Park you’ll still hit some bumpy areas of road. The worst of the pot holes are being filled and patched.

Photo - tree trimming on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The most extensive tree work is on the Virginia side of the border where much of the winter damage is yet to be removed.

Further north on the sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway near the North Carolina and Virginia border, you’ll still run into sections being paved, though nothing as extensive as what was done to the south.  On the Virginia side of the border, the paving is in short sections and along the edges of the road. I’m hoping this is just laying down a base for a fresh coat of pavement over the top as some of the patched areas dip lower than the untouched sections of road and you’ll notice the drop. I’m impressed with the stone work being done to construct the drains.

Photo - Clouds hug the tops of the black Mountains this morning

Take time to pause and look at the Black Mountains, some of the most rugged and beautiful peaks in the south. Clouds hugged the tops this morning.

Overall, delays are brief, you’ll hit more in Virginia right now, but the work that has been done was needed and welcome. No major changes at the rock slide area south of Asheville – one lane remains open controlled by a traffic signal.

Wayne from America Rides Maps

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Home from Motorcycle Adventures in Virginia

Photo - Me at the pub at the Switzerland Inn

A cool brew at the pub at the Switzerland Inn last night. It was not the last of them.

We’re back from our brief three day trip north on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was a semi-working trip in that Jackie tagged along. That changes the focus and the daily plans dramatically from my usual road-warrior approach. Even so, we accomplished a lot and I have a ton of new information to pass along.

I’ll get to it little by little as I now must catch up on the things left unattended. We added almost 50 miles of new roads to one of the maps (and I still have a few new motorcycle rides to go back and check into). I got a firsthand look at the construction and cleanup work on the Blue Ridge Parkway through North Carolina and Virginia and there’s some great news to relate. We found a wonderful place to stay in Virginia, the Hotel Floyd. I picked up a lot of new info to add to the maps. We found ourselves at the Switzerland Inn more than once and loved every minute of it. I shot a load of video to go through.

We braved the heat, wore out a tire, fought with the electronics, lost a headlight, dealt with a minor crisis at home, and generally had a great adventure. It will be the last with Jackie for a while as she returns to start a new job. I returned home to find the new printer on a pallet in the back of my truck (thanks Mom). It’s larger than expected and I’m not sure I can lift it. Office redesign and build new furniture ASAP.

So many things to do I’m making a list to prioritize. #1, take a few hours down time.

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

 

– Wayne Busch lives in Waynesville, NC, where he produces the most detailed and comprehensive and up-to-date motorcycle pocket maps of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains to help you get the most of your vacation experience. See them here – AmericaRidesMaps.com

 

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