Early spring means early season motorcycle riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway, but nightly freezes cause lots of small rock slides.
The National Park Service has done an outstanding job keeping the Blue Ridge Parkway open through the winter season as much as possible. I can’t remember spending as much time up there on my motorcycle, usually I’m on skis this time of year.
Warm and sunny days through this mild winter often find me pointing my wheels to the high country to take advantage of the nearly empty scenic road as it carves along the high ridge tops more than 5000 ft in elevation. Clear winter skies mean you can see into the surrounding states on the horizon, and the naked trees reveal what is hidden in the forested valleys spread out below.
Once darkness comes, the temperatures dive below freezing and sheets of ice build on the wet rock faces that line the roadway. As the sun warms them the next day, the ice melts and rains down along the roadside, and the repetitive freezing and melting cracks and loosens the rocks above causing small slides.
The park service is quick to remove the bigger slides as they occur and you’ll see the piles of rock pushed to the roadside. Throughout the day the process continues and it’s not uncommon to find rocks in the road when the road carves along the rocky cliffs.
Be alert whenever you see exposed rock along the roadside, particularly when rounding shady curves. The road may be clear where the sun rarely reaches, but as you come into the sunny side there may be surprises in the road.
1 minute video shows how noisy and active the melting and falling ice can be. It’s worth a stop to watch the spectacle.
- 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