How long to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway on my motorcycle?

How long to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway on my motorcycle?

Budget at least 2 days for your motorcycle ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway –

Map - How long to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway?

Getting to the Blue Ridge Parkway is a days ride for half the population in the US.

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Blue Ridge Parkway – Humpback Rocks Overlook in Virginia

While you can ride the entire 469.1 mile long Blue Ridge Parkway on your motorcycle trip in a single day, I strongly advise against it. I’ve done it, and trust me, you will not enjoy the experience like you should. It takes strategic planning and uncomfortable endurance to go end-to-end in a day on a motorcycle ride.

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Blue Ridge Parkway – Some tricky curves await on this great motorcycle ride!

The simple math is misleading – at an average speed of 45 mph and 469 miles to cover, it seems like a little over 10 hours of saddle time on your motorcycle tour does the trick. For many riders on a fully laden bike, the challenge of the mountain roads leads to a speed closer to 35 mph. You’ll also come across car traffic which finds this reduced speed more comfortable and few opportunities to pass.

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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.

Additionally, there is no gas on the entire ride. You’ll need to leave the parkway to fill up. Choose the wrong exit and that gas station may be 15 miles down a steep and twisty mountain road. Most of us like to eat, and there is only one Park Service Lodge left on the ride, so you’ll be diverting into nearby towns adding additional time.

So how do you do it best when time is tight?

I recommend starting at the north end in Waynesboro, Virginia. If you are going to try to cover as many miles as possible with few stops, do this in the Virginia section. The road is a bit more relaxed, the elevations not as high, and while the views are outstanding, they are not as spectacular as those in North Carolina. There are more wooded sections, and it gives you a chance to get used to the curves before you get into the more serious challenges to the south.

photo - Virginia blooms on the Blue Ridge Parkway

June on the Blue Ridge Parkway means flowers! A great time to enjoy the ride.

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Blue Ridge Parkway – Rocky Knob Cabins – a nice stop but come prepared with your own food and drink.

Set your sights to get across the border and into North Carolina on that first day. You’ll still have time to stop at some of the nicer overlooks and if you’re making good time you can even visit some of the roadside attractions along the way. As you get near the border you’ll find lots of places to lay over for the night. In Virginia, I usually head for Floyd or Hillsville, or take one of the many cabins located near the Parkway. Be aware, if you do choose a cabin along the way, you’ll need to bring in your own food or eat before you get there. Chateau Morrisette has great food, and you can stuff a bottle in the bags to bring to the cabin.

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Grandfather Mountain south of Boone starts the climb into the high mountains of North Carolina

Photo - View of the grounds at the Switzerland Inn

The Switzerland Inn – A beautiful Resort on the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of my favorite stops

On the North Carolina side of the border, most choose to stay in or around Boone. You’ll find lots of lodging options here, and plenty of good places to eat in town, though you will have to deal with the traffic. If you are making really good time, the last place I’d suggest is the Spruce Pine / Little Switzerland area, the Switzerland Inn is a fabulous stop right on the parkway with nice rooms and great food as is the Skyline Inn nearby. Once south of here, there is a long stretch of empty road before you come into the city of Asheville.

Savor your second day. Once you get south of Boone, you start to climb into the high mountains. This is the time to slow down, take advantage of the numerous overlooks, and get those photos. You’ll also hit some of the trickiest turns and curves. Take your time, relax, and enjoy.

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks - highest point

Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks – highest point. The long sweeping overlook compliments the great sweeping views

Strategic planning is critical on the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. You’ll be riding through long remote sections of road with few facilities nearby. I suggest fueling up in Asheville. You’ll find gas stations closest to the parkway here. It’s also a good place to stop for food, it’s hard to find a bad meal in Asheville. While it’s the second largest city on the Blue Ridge Parkway (after Roanoke, VA), it’s easy to navigate and a fun place to spend a little time. While the only remaining Park Service Lodge, the Pisgah Inn,  is just south of Asheville, and has great food and views, expect a wait to get served.

Blue Ridge Parkway-motorcycle-view

The southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway is worth the wait. Take your time and enjoy!

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Blue Ridge Parkway – Devils Courthouse, one of many spectacular sights on the ride.

If you find yourself running short on gas towards the end of the ride, the next best option for fuel is Maggie Valley at US 19 / Soco Gap (MP 455.7). You also find food there, and the Wheels Through TIme Motorcycle Museum is worth the visit. Maggie Valley is the place I most recommend for staying near the end of the parkway as it is so well located for the wealth of great motorcycle rides in the surroundings, and there are lots of rooms available at good prices.

Arriving at the south end of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Cherokee, NC, you are at the southern entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cherokee has a good number of rooms, but it’s also quite “touristy” so you’ll have some traffic to deal with. No alcohol on the reservation, and the best food is probably at Harrah’s Casino. While I’ve stayed there in the past, I suggest looking at all your options depending on which way your travels take you next.

Enjoy a Blue Ridge Parkway view on a motorcycle trip

Blue Ridge Parkway view – While 2 days will get you there, if you have more time you’ll find plenty to enjoy on a more relaxed motorcycle tour of one of the top 10 rides in the country.

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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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The Blue Ridge Parkway’s Best Kept Secret Waterfall

The Mount Lyn Lowry overlook is  a large and welcoming pull-off on the Blue Ridge Parkway that holds more than appears on a drive-by.

Motorcycle the Blue Ridge Parkway in the early spring and you’ll be rewarded with sights unseen by those who visit later in the year. One of them is Woodfin Cascades at the Mt Lyn Lowry overlook (MP 446.7). Once leaves cover the trees when summer arrives, most of this waterfall disappears from view.

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Woodfin Cascades are viewed from the Mt. Lyn Lowry overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Another secret revealed to those who spend a little time observing at this Blue Ridge Parkway overlook is the 60 foot high illuminated cross atop Mt. Lyn Lowry. You can use the cross as a reference to fid the falls, they are located beneath it on the mountainside.

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The cross is located atop the mountain. Even though it's 60 ft tall, on a 6240 mountain it's just a speck! The falls are hiding behind the leaves.

Mt Lyn Lowry overlook is located on the section of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Waynesville at US 74 and Maggie Valley at US 19. This is one of the most scenic stretches of the national park as it climbs to the heights of Waterrock Knob, then descends to Soco Gap and Maggie Valley. There are numerous long range overlooks.  Be sure to bring your camera for some of the best views you’ll find.

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In spring, the entire 235 foot run of Woodfin Cascades can be admired. It dissapears when things green up.

Here’s a 2 min video closeup of Woodfin Cascades –

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Wayne Busch

Wayne Busch - Cartographer

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Learn Total Control

– 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

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Motorcycle the Blue Ridge Parkway – Peaks of Otter Lodge

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The Lodge and Restaurant at Peaks of Otter

The Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant located at milepost 86 on the Blue Ridge Parkway offers the motorcycle traveler a serene and beautiful setting in the Virginia mountains –

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The setting is serene and relaxing

Jackie and I paid our first Blue Ridge Parkway motorcycle touring visit to the Peaks of Otter Lodge this past weekend and give it a good, though not outstanding recommendation. In some ways it outshines the other Blue Ridge Parkway lodges we’re familiar with, in others it falls just a little short.

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View from our room

Like the other Blue Ridge Parkway lodges, it immerses you in a remote and isolated setting. The nearest town is Bedford, less than 10 miles distant. The city of Roanoke is 25 miles further south on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The climb to reach the Peaks of Otter on the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most beautiful stretches of heavy woodlands in the Jefferson National Forest with glimpses of the surrounding mountains, the piedmont to the east, and the Shenandoah Valley to the west from the occasional overlooks.

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The Lodge lobby is nice

There is a Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center nearby, a campground, hiking trails, historic sights, and a picnic area. Set on a  small lake in the bowl between two of the three peaks that give the area it’s name, the views on every horizon are stunning and often mirrored in the still waters of the alpine pond. A gentle trail offers a 20 minute walk around the lake to admire the hollow from all perspectives.

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Extra points for having a nice bar

The Lodge does stand above the other parkway inns in it’s rich and welcoming appearance. The gift shop is attractive, and the bar is such a welcome touch after a hot days ride. The restaurant overlooks the lake with captivating, at times enchanting views of the natural panorama. Unfortunately the restaurant is where the Peaks of Otter Lodge fell short for us.

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Captivating views from the dining room

The food does not hold a candle to the that served at the Pisgah Inn, the Blue ridge Parkway Lodge south of Asheville, NC. Service was great, pleasant and attentive wait staff insured we got what we needed. The setting is outstanding with the views but the musak was some sad mix of nursing home dirge and “One Flew Over the Kukoo’s Nest” which distracted from the atmosphere. A place this nice deserves a chef, not a cook and a new set of CD’s for the player – please throw the Victrola in the deep part of the lake.

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Rooms are clean and comfortable

The facilities are well maintained and spotlessly clean. The grounds were  manicured with precision and care. The rooms were comfortable as were the beds, and quiet. It makes for a peaceful and relaxing stay.

Overall, a stay at the Peaks of Otter Lodge on the Blue Ridge Parkway is welcoming and relaxing on your motorcycle vacation. Taking the dining experience to the next level would make it outstanding.

ADD – I have one big request from the Park Service: It’s the 21st century, how about a little catch up? I don’t mind not having TV, it makes the rooms quiet and draws you out of them to embrace the natural experience and beauty. Cell service comes and goes with the breeze, and the wind rarely blows – you’ll be chucking quarters into the pay phone to reach the rest of civilization. Isn’t it time to embrace our new reality and offer a wireless network?

Other Reviews from Trip Advisor

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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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Asheville Lodging Bargain for Blue Ridge Parkway Motorcycle Travelers

Photo - Courtyard Marriott Asheville

Courtyard Marriott - Asheville

Courtyard Marriott and SpringHill Suites in Asheville is offering motorcycle travelers a 20% DISCOUNT on your stay and all you’ve got to do is tell them I sent you! How cool is that?

Springhill Suites - Asheville

SpringHill Suites - Carrabbas between the two inns

You know what a difference it makes to stay in a nice, comfortable, clean and quiet place where you can decompress and relax when you’ve been piling on the miles. You’ll appreciate knowing there’s something good waiting for you in Asheville, an easy-to-find place you can count on for a quality experience that welcomes motorcycle riders like you.

Photo - Corporate at Marriott

Lynn Prater, John Zellers, Christy Shamp, Teresa Taylor sincerely want your motorcycle business

Marriott Hotels honestly want to serve the motorcycle traveler and show you a good time in one of the top destination cities in the southeast – Asheville, North Carolina. Just 5 minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway exit at US 70 just south of the Folk Art Center, it’s s straight shot and easy ride to outstanding and convenient accommodations.

Photo - View from the SpringHill Suites

View from the SpringHill Suites

Thank Sales Manager Christy Shamp for the favor. I met her at the Asheville Bikefest as she and her crew spent the long hours staffing a table next to mine promoting a charitable cause. We got to talking during our breaks and she was quite enthused about the motorcycle riders she was meeting at the event as well as the Yamaha factory crew they hosted at the SpringHill Suites. Christy’s corporate team was coming to town the following week and she asked if I’d come by and tell them about what I do.

Photo - Firepit at the Courtyard by Marriott

Firepit at the Courtyard by Marriott

So I spent a few minutes with corporate, toured both inns with Christy, and saw what they had to offer the motorcycle rider. I’m convinced they sincerely want your motorcycle business. Here’s what I found:

  • It’s barely 5 minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway and a straight shot to get there
  • Both the SpringHill Suites and Courtyard Marriott sit well back from the road away from the noise of the traffic. Nor does the back of them border the highway. It’s pretty quiet for such a good location on the edge of downtown.
  • Level paved secure easy parking – can accommodate trailers
  • There’s a Carabbas between the inns, a Starbucks, and plenty of great places to eat nearby.
  • It’s about 2 minutes to get on I-240 to scoot around the city and just as easy to get downtown to enjoy what makes Asheville such a popular destination.
  • Enjoy a nice view of the mountains on the horizon from your room, the pool, or the outdoor fire pit.
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Use the US 70 West exit on the Blue Ridge Parkway and just follow the road.

Everyone I met was happy, enthusiastic, and accommodating which pretty much describes a visit to Asheville. It’s consistently in the top 5 US travel destinations and continues to win awards (Beer City USA 3 years in a row!). A presidential visit is no longer out of the ordinary, a few movie stars reside on the surrounding slopes, and the Blue Ridge Parkway hugs the east side of the city. In a word – it’s easy.

Here’s a strategy to try when you visit Asheville– ride downtown and find a place to park. Walk a block in any direction. You’ve most likely arrived at or passed some excellent dining. It’s hard to find a bad meal in Asheville and you don’t have to go far.

Courtyard by Marriott
SpringHill Suites by Marriott
phone: 828-252-5831
fax: 828-281-1069
email: ashevillessc@mckibbonhotels.com
www.courtyardasheville.com
www.springhillsuitesasheville.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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