Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway – Tips; Tame the Tunnels
Danger or delight? With 26 tunnels on the Blue Ridge Parkway the experience of rolling under a mountain is common. Most are short, and in many you can see the light at the other side. Still, every one is dark and if you’re riding along in the bright sunlight with your sunglasses on, the sudden plunge into darkness can momentarily blind you. Here are some observations and tips -
Know where they are – there’s only one in Virginia at MP 53.1 approaching the James River area. The remaining 25 are in North Carolina. A few are near Little Switzerland, but there are two areas to really plan for them – climbing from the French Broad River in Asheville to Mt. Pisgah, and descending from Soco Gap at Maggie Valley to Cherokee. You’ll hit 9 or so in sequence as you climb or descend from the highest section of the Parkway which lies between these points. If you are coming into one of these sections and the tunnels are a problem for you, it may be time to go without the sunglasses through here.
Use your lights , all of them – motorcycles are required to burn headlights at all times in North Carolina, but even so, they may not do the job in these dark tunnels. Flip on the brights. That will help light up the reflectors along the wall.
Watch for hazards - Keep alert for bicycles. They too are required to have lights on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but they won’t be as bold as on a vehicle. Watch for those dim flashing red strobes at the side of the road. Also keep an eye out for wet spots which are common in the tunnels. Cars often slow a bit when in the tunnels, expect it.
Don’t look down - The tunnels are not only dark, but they curve. You need to keep your eyes ahead. Pay attention to the wall of the tunnel where your brights will illuminate a piece of it ahead of you. It will guide you through.
- 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
Wayne is an advanced motorcycle instructor for Total Rider Tech teaching Lee Parks Total Control Advanced Rider Courses. Isn’t it time you looked into advanced rider training to ride more confidently and safely? It can transform your mountain riding experience. Total Rider Tech