Motorcycle Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway – Commuter Zones

Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway - commuter zones

You have no clue you’re passing through some sizable cities on a Blue Ridge Parkway ride  – 10 minutes ride from a parkway exit puts you in the heart of Asheville, NC, a fun place to visit!

On a 469 mile long Blue Ridge Parkway ride you will pass through two cities – Roanoke in Virginia, and Asheville in North Carolina. Each has its “commuter zone”.

In both cities, the parkway weaves along the east edge of town then curves around to the south, though barely a hint of the surrounding neighborhoods are visible. Riding along you never see a downtown area at all nor any indication you are near a sizable city. It’s part of the magical illusion of a Blue Ridge Parkway ride. The views have been well protected over the years.

What’s a Commuter Zone?

There will be a handful of exits relatively close together as you pass through one of the cities on the Blue Ridge Parkway. For locals, the Blue Ridge Parkway is just one more road to get through town, a shortcut. A lot of local traffic hops on it to save time and zip an exit or two to the road they want.

photo-no-gas-sign-on-blue-ridge-parkway

This sign is a legacy to when gas was available on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It should now read “No gas next 400 miles”. There is no gas on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take advantage of close gas stations to the parkway in the commuter zones.

What you need to know about Parkway Commuter Zones –

Expect more traffic and more aggressive traffic in the commuter zones on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Locals are hopping on the parkway to save time and they may push the speed limit.

The speed limit drops in some areas and it’s more heavily enforced in the commuter zones. The Asheville commuter zone of the Blue Ridge Parkway went to 35 mph last year to try to slow down the local traffic. Watch for the signs.

Enforcement is heavier near cities, especially in commuter zones. More traffic means more resources assigned to deal with it. Watch your speed whenever you feel you are getting into a populated area. You can also expect more attention near popular areas along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

ranger on the parkway

Watch your speed and be alert in the commuter zones

Here are some places where I tell myself to roll back on the throttle when riding the Blue Ridge Parkway:

  • From the Start of the Parkway  in Virginia to Humpback Rocks
  • Peaks of Otter area in Virginia, near Buchanan
  • From 221 exit to 221 exit near Roanoke
  • Linn Cove Viaduct area near Blowing Rock
  • Moses Cone / Julian Prince Park near Boone
  • Altapass Hwy north of Spruce Pine / Little Switzerland
  • Crabtree Falls area
  • From Craggy Gardens through Asheville
  • The southern section of the parkway into Cherokee

Be aware of and alert for these commuter zones near the cities along the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are few signs on the road, but if you see any indication you are approaching a congested area be alert and ready to deal with increased traffic with a different agenda than you.

7 map Blue Ridge Parkway + The Dragon set

7 map Blue Ridge Parkway + The Dragon set

Get the maps!
http://shop.americaridesmaps.com/Blue-Ridge-Parkway-The-Dragon-Package-BRP12.htm

If you enjoy photos of motorcycle riding in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, like MY BLUE RIDGE MOTORCYCLING FACEBOOK PAGE.Facebook

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– 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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Motorcyclists – Never Underestimate the Weather on the Blue Ridge Parkway

I sometimes do dumb things on a motorcycle. Learn from my mistakes, I’ve made a lot of them.

Forecast – High’s in the 50’s, windy, partly cloudy, 10% chance of rain, IN WAYNESVILLE, NC. I’d become pretty complacent regarding the weather as it had been an unusually warm fall so far. The morning wasn’t too bad for what was supposed to be the DAY BEFORE our first cold snap – high 40’s and an unexpected wet driveway overnight greeted me and my morning coffee as I started the day on the porch of my cabin. Low clouds raced overhead, there was little wind at all IN MY LITTLE COVE.

Blue Ridge Parkway - Fall color at Second Falls , Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Head-turning gorgeous.

Blue Ridge Parkway – Fall color at Second Falls , Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Head-turning gorgeous.

I wanted new photos to feed MY BLUE RIDGE MOTORCYCLING FACEBOOK PAGE at the peak of fall color in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I post a couple each day for my motorcycle riding friends and they sure do seem to like them as I currently have something like 33,000 people who check in to see them. So I set aside the day to run up to Boone, NC on the Blue Ridge Parkway and see the colors so I could report back and tell them what to expect and where to go to see it.

Fall Colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville

Fall Colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Waynesville a couple days ago.

“It’s not too bad” I thought, no need for the long johns or the Gerbings Heated motorcycle riding gear. It would be dry and mostly sunny, I can handle this, no problem. I packed up the morning motorcycle map orders, hit the post office, then I-40 east to Asheville to pick up the Blue Ridge Parkway and head north.

Fall colors near the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Fall colors near the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway from my collection.

I got on the Blue Ridge Parkway at US 74 and started the pleasant ride north. The colors along the Asheville corridor and leading up to Craggy Gardens were spectacular! My goal was the Linn Cove Viaduct at Grandfather Mountain. The plan was to race up there to get some photos, then take my time coming back shooting more along the way as the lighting would be better. It was  getting a bit cloudy, so I’d surely get better shots later in the day on the return.

Charlies Creek Road

Charlie’s Creek Road – Not only will you find some of the best hidden pockets of leaf color, but you have one of the best rides of your life.

I quickly found myself doddering along behind the light tourist traffic at 25 mph. “Don’t be an asshole” – just enjoy the sights and behave” I told myself. That lasted about 3 minutes before I started darting around the cars. Damn, it was chilly as I approached Craggy Gardens and a light rain started.

I hit the clouds climbing to Mt. Mitchell, highest peak in the east. “That’s normal”, I told myself, “it’s always cloudy here”, its still early in the day. It was getting cold now, and I saw the first SNOW along the roadside. Wished I’d put on the heated gear. The wind was beyond “blustery” by now.

Approaching Mt. Mitchell, I saw the first snow along the roadside.

Approaching Mt. Mitchell, I saw the first snow along the roadside.

It was another hour and then some to reach Grandfather Mountain. I scrambled up on the rocks for the photo of the Linn Cove Viaduct and shivered violently in the bitter gusty winds waiting for the sun to hit it while a motorcycle was crossing and get the photos I wanted. I never got the perfect shot, but after  almost an hour I was shaking so violently I just gave up. It was too cloudy and I recognized the beginnings of hypothermia. It would be a long ride back, and the temperature was dropping.

Blue Ridge Parkway Linn Cove Viaduct Fall

Here’s the best shot I got with motorcycles. Waiting to see one yesterday was like waiting for Bigfoot and his family to come out and pose. The smart riders hunkered down and stayed in.

The fall colors at Grandfather Mountain were unbelievable, though only during the very rare moments when the sun peaked through the heavy cloud cover. It finally just all went gray in the sky above, and I couldn’t stand it any longer. I had to get back.

The wind was wailing now, the rain of leaves horizontal, and the times when the sun poked through the racing clouds were fleeting. I sped through Little Switzerland, trying to relax as my body shook violently from the cold so I could maintain control of the bike at speed. Wheels kicking out on the wet leaves, the tick-tick-tick on the helmet told me the rain had turned to sleet. Breathing as shallow as I could to keep the visor from fogging, I poured on the throttle to get this pain over with as quickly as possible.

Linn Cove Viaduct Fall Colors

Best shot from the day. It was a long cold wait to get it.

Getting photos had long been dismissed as any priority, it was all about escaping my predicament now. Underdressed, the climb to Mt. Mitchell was brutal, just get it over with. I passed the park and the sleet turned to tiny white flecks – it was snowing.

Coming into Asheville I looked to the west and home. The skies were blue, the sun was shining, it was exactly as the forecast predicted.

Lessons Re-learned:

  • It’s always more extreme up on the parkway – colder, wetter, windier. Don’t be fooled sitting on the porch.
  • Weather in the mountains varies widely and can change quickly. Check the forecast in several places.

If you enjoy photos of motorcycle riding in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, like MY BLUE RIDGE MOTORCYCLING FACEBOOK PAGE.
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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– 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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Blue Ridge Parkway Detour Route for Motorcycles – July, 2013

Blue Ridge Parkway Detour Route for Motorcycles – July, 2013

A section of the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Asheville, NC has closed due to a recent slope failure. Unprecedented rainfall in the region has triggered numerous slides, washed out roads and bridges, and caused some flooding in areas. The National Park Service detour routes traffic south and east of this long closed section of the parkway using US 221 through Marion, NC.

Photo courtesy National Park Service - Blue Ridge Parkway crack in road

Photo courtesy National Park Service – Blue Ridge Parkway crack in road at site of slope failure.

Usually, there is a better route than the “official Park Service Route”, as the park needs to factor in for the large RV’s which cannot easily negotiate steep climbs and sharp turns. Here is a map which highlights the most pleasant way for the motorcycle traveler to bypass the closed section of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is also the most direct route so you miss as little as possible.

Blue Ridge Parkway detour map 2013

Blue Ridge Parkway detour map 2013

Use this link to a .pdf file of the map here to download or print it for free;

http://smokymountainrider.com/Downloads/Parkway-detour-map-2013.pdf

Map #5 - The Best Roads North and South of Asheville, NC

Map #5 – The Best Roads North and South of Asheville, NC

This road closure occurs on America Rides Maps Motorcycle Pocket Map #5 – “The Best Roads North and South of Asheville, NC”.  A section of Map #5 with the better detour route is highlighted. You’ll also see there are several other ways to go –  the red roads are best if you have the time.

America Rides Motorcycle Pocket Maps catalogue several hundred of the best motorcycle roads in the Blue Ridge Mountains from north Georgia to north Virginia so you get the most out of your visits. Great rides are linked together with the best connecting roads to keep you rolling on the most enjoyable 2 lane back roads you’ll find anywhere.

Get your maps here
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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– 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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Learn Total Control

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

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Best Motorcycle Rides – A Mt. Mitchell Loop Ride

Photo-mt-mitchell-highest-in-east

The observation tower atop Mt. Mitchell. Pick a sunny clear day. Clouds will hang on the peak.

Best Motorcycle Rides – A Mt. Mitchell Loop Ride

A lot of bikers ask about riding to the highest mountain east of the Mississippi. This loop will spice up the ride with a fun run by Chimney Rock.

Who wouldn’t want to ride their motorcycle to the peak of the highest mountain in the eastern United States? At 6,684 feet, the views from the top are worth the trip, as is the enjoyable ride to get there. Located on NC 128, a spur road off a remote section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s just a short walk to reach the observation tower the crowns the crest.

blue-ridge-parkway-craggy-gardens-visitor-center

Blue Ridge Parkway – Craggy Gardens Visitor Center is a popular rest stop north of Asheville with nice views.

While a ride up this section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is a satisfying experience, why not kill two birds with one stone and come back on a different route? For those looking for a more challenging ride than the park road, this loop will give you some classic curves and outstanding scenery. You’ll pass through dramatic Hickory Nut Gorge, home to beautiful Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, and wind your way home through some of the nicest curves  in the Pisgah Forest.

While there are some challenging sections, this is a great route for cruisers as most of it is pretty laid back and you can take your time.

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Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina - Pisgah Triangles

Great Motorcycle Rides in North Carolina – Pisgah Triangles – Looking Glass Falls on US 276 is one of the most visited roadside waterfalls in North Carolina

Distance: 205+ miles with side trips

Duration: All day ride

Difficulty: Easy to moderate ride

Before you go:

  • Fill up first – Long stretches with no gas stations.
  • Watch the weather – High elevations will have the most extremes. Bring extra clothing. Pick a nice day to visit Mt. Mitchell, the clouds will come in here first.

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Turn-by-turn route:

Start in Waynesville. Follow US 276 to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

6.3 mi Traffic light in Bethel. Last chance to fill up before the long ride.

20.8 mi Turn left @ junction US 276 and ramp to Blue Ridge Parkway.

21 mi Turn right @ stop sign onto Blue Ridge Parkway (towards Asheville).

77.1 mi Turn left @ junction Blue Ridge Parkway and NC 128. Follow to top of Mt. Mitchell – 4.8 mi one way.

88.3 mi Exit and follow ramp to NC 80. Blue Ridge Parkway exit at NC 80.

blue-ridge-parkway-motorcycles

The Blue Ridge Parkway section north of Asheville

88.4 mi Turn right @ stop sign. Junction ramp and NC 80.

100 mi Turn right @ traffic light. Junction NC 80 and NC 70.  Follow NC 70 into Old Fort.

109 mi Turn left @ traffic light. Junction US 70 and Catawba Avenue in Old Fort. Pass through town. Follow Bat Cave Road south.

121 mi Turn left  @ stop sign. Junction Bat Cave Road and NC 9.

128 mi Turn left @ stop sign. Junction NC 9 and US 74A (Gerton Highway). 

128.3 mi Traffic Light. Junction US 74A and US 64. Go through traffic light to see Chimney Rock in 2 miles. Explore Lake lure. Turn right to leave the area on US 64 (left turn when leaving).

Photo - Lake Lure

Scenic Lake Lure, south of Asheville, in the Hickory Nut Gorge is worth the side trip

140 mi Cross over I-26 on US 64. Continue into Hendersonville.

143 mi Turn left, then right @ traffic lights downtown to continue west on US 64.

160 mi Pass straight through traffic light @ Junction US 64 / US 276 / NC 280. onto US 276. Good place add some gas to your tank. 

175 mi Pass under Blue Ridge Parkway and continue on US 276.

195 mi Return to start in Waynesville via US 276.

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There is a restaurant at Mt. Mitchell. You’ll also find food in Chimney Rock / Lake Lure, as well as Hendersonville and Brevard.

Hendersonville is a bit congested with some traffic.

Map of Mt. Mitchell / Chimney Rock loop ride

Click to enlarge

This ride and all the surrounding roads are detailed on –

Map #5 – The Best Roads North & South of Asheville, NC

Map #6 – The Best Motorcycle Rides Near Smoky Park – EAST

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– 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

Total Rider Tech Logo

Learn Total Control

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

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Blue Ridge Parkway 2013 Detour Map for Motorcycles

Blue Ridge Parkway 2013 Detour Map for Motorcycles

Location: North Carolina, Milepost 358, 2.6 miles south of NC 128 / Mt. Mitchell State Park.

Blue Ridge Parkway Detour 2012 - 2013 - View from Craggy Gardens Overlook

Blue Ridge Parkway Detour 2012 – 2013 – Amazingly clear skies from the Craggy Gardens Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It can still be accessed from the south. That brown stripe in the distance in I-26 more than 22 miles distant. Visibility must have been nearly 50 miles this day.

Schedule:

  • Road open both lanes until 9/26/12
  • 9/26/12 – 10/01/12One lane closed. Temporary traffic lights for one way traffic
  • 10/01/12 – April, 2013 6.5 miles of road closed, use detour

> Access Mt. Mitchell State Park from north (NC 80 crossover)

> Access Craggy Gardens from south (Asheville /  Weaverville exits)

A short stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway will be closed November 1, 2012 through April 2013 to stabilize a failing slope. I’ve been watching this spot in the road as it has subsided over the past couple years. It involves all of the north bound lane and a portion of the southbound lane, and it’s very noticeable dip when riding through.

On or about September 26, Temporary traffic lights will stagger one way traffic through the work area, expect short to moderate delays. Gates above the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area and just south of NC 128 to Mt Mitchell State Park will be closed November 1 to isolate it for the construction.

Blue Ridge Parkway Road Closure 2012 - 2013

Blue Ridge Parkway Road Closure 2012 – 2013 – Temporary trffic lights like this one will regulate the flow when one lane is closed this week.

The Official Blue Ridge Parkway Detour exits at NC 226 at Spruce Pine, following it south to NC 221 then west on I-40 to reconnect in Asheville at the US 70 intersection.

I suggest those motorcycle riding on the Blue Ridge Parkway continue south and exit the Blue Ridge Parkway at NC 80. NC 80 a.k.a the “Devils Whip plunges down from the heights through a series of switchbacks, then a nice long curvy section takes you to the junction with US 70 at a traffic light. Follow US 70 east through Old Fort and connect to I-40 West.

Blue Ridge Parkway closure 2013 map

Blue Ridge Parkway closure 2013 map – Click on map for full sized version. Prints on a standard sheet of paper.

Print a copy free from a .pdf file here: http://smokymountainrider.com/Downloads/parkway-closure-2013.pdf

The Official Blue Ridge Parkway detour will have you connecting to the south end via US 70 east of Asheville via Exit 55 on I-40.  I recommend you go to the next I-40 Exit #53 at the junction with US 74A. The connection here is much shorter, no traffic lights, and you won’t miss anything scenic on the Parkway.

You’ll find these roads on America Rides Maps motorcycle pocket map #5 – The Best  Roads North and South of Asheville, NC along with another 40 or so outstanding rides in the surrounding area.

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle Rider.com

Wayne Busch

– 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

Total Rider Tech Logo

Learn Total Control

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

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Blue Ridge Parkway Rockslide Update for Motorcycles – photos

It has been the year for rock slides. There were 6 major ones in southern region of the Smoky Mountains. Interstate 40 near the North Carolina – Tennessee state line is still being worked on with one lane closed. Be aware traffic backs up there on Fridays and weekends, 30 minute delays are advertised. If you’re planning on staying on the north side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park (link to map – .pdf) factor the delays into your travel time, or better yet, stay on the south side of the park.

Photo from Blue Ridge Parkway this morning

I was out on the BMW this foggy morning. Traffic is increasing on the Blue Ridge Parkway, especially motorcycles.

The fence and gates are still visible at the Dragon near Deals Gap even though the rock slide there has long been resolved. It’s a reminder of when the road was first closed, then open only from 8 Am to 8 PM. It’s been open since August and you can plainly see where the rock slide happened along the lake. I still stop at the pull off to take photos occasionally.

Photo - rock slide site on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Little change is evident from the road. Most of the work is going on above, terracing and stabilizing the slope.

The rock slide on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Mt. Pisgah is yet to be resolved completely. It was supposed to be done by the start of September. The road is open for travel, but only one lane. Timed temporary traffic lights are positioned on each side of the work area to regulate traffic, and the duration of the delays seems to have been decreased. It used to 5 minutes, but now it feels like less. Maybe I’m used to it.

Photo - traffic lights on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Temporary timed traffic lights manage the traffic through the work area. It seems like they've decreased the wait times.

Looking at the photos I took today and comparing them to the last set, there is little visible difference at the rock slide site. As I’m up there often, I can see subtle signs of progress. While it looks pretty devastated along the road, it’s comparatively minor in contrast to the amount of work that has been done to terrace and stabilize the slope above. They were still drilling rock today so there’s work yet to be finished.

Photo - motorcycles pass the rock slide on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The delays are short, there's nothing challenging, motorcycles of which there are plenty have nothing to worry about.

Also be aware there is another delay for tunnel work as you reach Mt. Pisgah. Another set of temporary traffic lights controls traffic there as well. The scaffolding came down weeks ago, the road bed has been freshly paved, and when I passed today they were raking the edges of the road. It appears this delay is nearly over.

So long as I’m relating Blue Ridge Parkway road conditions, there is still paving going on north of Asheville. I thought they were done here when I passed through a couple weeks ago and raved about how nice the pavement was. When I went through a couple days ago they were putting another layer of fresh asphalt on top of the already wonderful road that was there. It’s SO nice! I hit two delays, one near Craggy Gardens and another further south, but they were not long waits. This second coat is going down fast so it won’t be long before they move out of there.

I’ll sum all this up in the somewhat monthly newsletter I put out (subscribe bottom right of page). There are a few paving projects I need to ride out and check on. If you have any info to add, please send it to me.

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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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Blue Ridge Parkway Construction – Plan on Letting the Motorcycle Cool for a While

With the new paving done, I’ve been using the Blue Ridge Parkway more often for my motorcycle touring rides north. It’s actually about as quick as taking any other route if you’re heading for areas between Asheville and Boone, NC, and even if it takes a tad longer, it’s usually so much nicer to go that way. Today though, I hit it at the wrong time.

Photo - line of cars on the Blue Ridge Parkway

This line of cars much have stretched for a mile waiting on the tree clearing crews to let us pass.

I needed to make a run up to Craggy Gardens for a photo. If you’ve been to Craggy Gardens on your motorcycle vacation you know why it makes a good photo spot, if not, I can be confident you’ll stop there if you pass that way and take your own. It’s the first Visitor Center location north of Asheville, though it’s the views people come for, not the facilities.

I had expected the traffic from the work crews would be tapering off. I was proven wrong today and I’ll need to explore a bit further to find out why.  I just plain didn’t have the time this morning.  As soon as I got on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville I found myself behind a dump truck. I was shortly joined by a string of motorcycle riders as we putted along behind said truck for creeping uphill mile after mile. Just as the truck managed to pick up speed it caught up to another.

Photo - the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Lots of parking, it's a popular stop.

The Craggy Gardens Visitor Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway

I don’t know where the trucks were headed, the last work I saw was near Mt. Mitchell State Park. If they are working on the stretch of road north of there, more power to them and I have no complaints. It needs some attention, though not as severely as that south of Craggy Gardens. The hold up today was the tree clearing crews. I waited for 1/2 and hour to pass. Must be the same slow crews which worked through Asheville last week.

Photo - The Craggy Pinnacle Tunnel

I was looking for and got a nice photo at the Craggy Pinnacle Tunnel for a new "The Best Rides North and South of Asheville, NC" map cover.

Anyway, be aware there are still delays through this section and take it in stride on your motorcycle vacation plans. Spend a little more time at the overlooks, appreciate the improvements to the road, and remember there are  few places better to have to pause and wait. I’ll be at the north end of the Parkway in Virginia next week to update what’s going on there.

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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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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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Last Blue Ridge Parkway Section Opens Friday – Personal Road Report

Photo - Blue Ridge Parkway barricade at NC 151

Blue Ridge Parkway barricade at NC 151 on the south side of the closed area.

For the first time in 18 months or more the entire 469 miles length of America’s favorite motorcycle ride, the Blue Ridge Parkway, will be open for travel. I’ve patiently watched and waited for this day, trying to sneak peeks at the progress on clearing the slide area near milepost 400 without success. Despite a grueling bicycle ride to make first hand observations, I was put off by the high fence and $5000 fine for trespassing, and have had to simply wait for the announcement. Work is still being done and there will be temporary traffic lights to manage traffic at a nearby tunnel.

Photo - fence near closed section of the Blue Ridge Parkway

I was put off by the high fence and $5000 trespassing fine from getting a first hand look at the progress.

Work continues elsewhere on the Blue Ridge Parkway clearing the damage from one of the most severe winters on record. One of the worst hit areas near Linnville is now pristine again, an amazing job considering how badly it was affected. Ice and wind storms had covered the road with fallen trees and debris. Riding through now, you’d have to know what to look for to see evidence of the devastation now hidden by fresh summer greenery.

Photo - View of Blue Ridge Parkway with trees down from ice in February

View of Blue Ridge Parkway with trees down from ice in February

Paving continues between Mt. Mitchell State Park and Asheville, most concentrated near the Craggy Gardens area. The southbound lane is nearly completed and the quality of the new roadway is outstanding. You’ll hit a few delays and a mile or so of road that has been top-scraped in preparation for new asphalt. There are some rough sections and pot holes. The north bound lane still has a way to go and while the killer pot holes have been filled, the road is rough for many miles. It has also been prepped, but the pot holes are more numerous and it’s a bumpy ride.

Photo-section-of-the-Blue-Ridge-Parkway-damage-near-Linnville

The volume of trees down on the section of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Linnville was amazing. You wouldn't know it looked like this riding through now.

A recent hazard to be aware of is near Mt. Mitchell State Park where guardrail replacement is being done. A very slick sand is found in places near this work and motorcyclists should be vigilant and exercise caution. This video shows what to watch out for.

http://americaridesmaps.com The best Blue Ridge Parkway maps

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Update on the Blue Ridge Parkway Repairs

Photo – Waiting to pass a construction zone

Somehow I must have set the GPS to “find the most traffic” and it was working fabulously. I suppose everyone else had done the same as I hit one logjam after another on my way home from Virginia earlier this week. Still, as I left Banner Elk, I though it might be a while before I passed this way again and I was curious to see how the construction on the Blue Ridge Parkway was progressing.

I’d already bypassed the detour near Boone and Blowing Rock. No need to visit that section anyway. They are replacing a section of roadbed and there’s no way to get a close look at what’s going on, nor did I want to take the time to ride up and see how the bridge work was coming to the north. The big project however was more or less on my route home – at least it was now. Anything to get off the clogged roads and unwind.

The section I was interested in lies between Mt. Mitchell State Park and Asheville. This section of the parkway was closed all of last year when a piece slid off the mountainside. That portion has been rebuilt and the project has now shifted to repairing the adjacent areas of road which had deteriorated badly. Layers of pavement had peeled away like old paint and there were some areas where small sinkholes had left huge dips in the roadway. Honestly, it was getting pretty rough and it’s nice to see it receiving the attention it needs.

I was initially under the impression the job was mostly just resurfacing. This visit revealed there are many areas where the entire roadbed is being rebuilt. It’s being done in a piecemeal fashion, probably the worst sections getting attention first. Cruising down the southbound lane, the worst of the two, I was pleased to hit gloriously smooth portions that had already been repaired. These would be followed by others which had yet to see attention and still more which would probably not require much of anything. Sporadically, I came to construction areas, most of which were flanked by idled equipment this late into the evening. A few of the overlooks had been resurfaced along the drive.

It was pretty easy going until I passed Craggy Gardens. The last of the crews was still going full steam on a good sized section of road and I found myself pulling up to a line of stopped traffic waiting for the pilot vehicle to take them through the single open lane. It was just a few minutes until it came by with a long line of cars in tow. I waited my turn then fell into the queue behind our chaperon. As we passed, the opposite lane was being filled with fresh subsoil as the road was rebuilt from the very base. Work this extensive should endure. I doubt this will be anywhere close to finished until next spring season.

I left the Parkway near Asheville only to get caught up in another traffic jam on the south side of the city. Didn’t matter much anymore. I’d been on the bike since 4 AM and I could see the familiar mountains of home on the horizon. I’d get there soon enough.

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