On this trip we will get to know three beautiful National Parks. Strictly speaking, the Blue Ridge Parkway is not a park, but a National Scenic Byway that stretches 755 km along the Blue Ridge Mountains. The road connects Skyline Drive in Virginia with the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in North Carolina. There are no less than 272 scenic outlooks along the entire route.
New River Gorge National Park in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia is the youngest national park in the United States; it was not until 2021 that part of the former National Preserve was upgraded. The huge nature reserve features a variety of spectacular viewpoints, the Sandfall Falls and the Thurmond Historic District, an old coal settlement where an Amtrak train still stops several times a week – but only as a flagstop station.
The park’s main attraction is certainly the New River Gorge Bridge, a steel arch bridge with an arch span of 518 meters and, until 2001, the largest arch bridge in the world. On Bridge Day in October each year, the bridge is closed to the traffic; on these days, base jumping from a height of 267 meters is permitted.
Shanandoah National Park covers about 800 square kilometers of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Southern Appalachians of Virginia. Skyline Drive is the most famous road in this forest landscape, which is as high as 1,200 meters in some places. The road runs for about 170 km, always at altitude, through the entire park. In addition to 800 km of hiking trails, visitors can enjoy 75 viewpoints and 10 waterfalls. The view is always magnificent – if it’s not raining and the fog does not allow a view into the valley.