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.


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

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wayne busch - Smoky Mountain Motorcycle

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 –



Sights From The Road – The Lynn Cove Viaduct

The Lynn Cove Viaduct is located at milepost 304.6 on the Blue Ridge Parkway where it skirts Grandfather Mountain at an elevation of 4100 feet. It’s just outside the town of Banner Elk, NC. and not far from Boone, NC., convenient midway stopping points for a cruise down our nations longest National Park.

Completed in 1983, this was the last section of the Blue Ridge Parkway linking the northern parts through the highlands of Virginia with the southern section through the highest mountains in the east. Too long for a tunnel, the Lynn Cove Viaduct provides an elevated bridge across a section of mountain too steep, rocky, and unstable for a roadway. While it is one of the most photographed features of the parkway with it’s dramatic “S” curving platform, those photos you may come across are from a vantage point not easily reached from the road. Fact is, you may not recognize you crossed it while cruising along the parkway unless you’re looking for it and know where it’s found.

For a better view of it, exit the parkway and ride a few miles down NC 221, one of the best roads recommended on America Rides Maps NC008 – “Great Roads Near Boone, Banner Elk, and Blowing Rock“. Pass the entrance to Grandfather Mountain, continue through a few of the wonderful curves that skirt the mountain below the parkway and look for a turn with a large gravel pull out. That’s where I got this picture, good enough to be used as the cover photo for the map.

For too many travelers, this area around Boone, Banner Elk, and Blowing Rock is overlooked. It’s a great stopping off point to pass a night, and you can see a few of the attractions with short rides between the towns. My explorations discovered a wealth of great backroads in the area with rides that extend acorss the borders into Tennessee and Virgina, enough to make a stay of a few days a rewarding expereince. The map lays out three recommened rides, and tempts you with more roads waiting your discovery.

>> Go to America Rides Maps.com