Where is the Blue Ridge Parkway?
The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles long, crossing from Virginia to North Carolina; it connects Shenandoah with the Great Smoky Mountains. The parkway hugs the southern and central Appalachians, which is one of the many reasons why a Blue Ridge Parkway is an absolute must.
Begin this hike early because, if you don't, you will find yourself on quite a crowded trail. As David and I had known about this prior, we set off around 7am and had the entire trail to ourselves. Elk Knob offers stunning views of the surrounding mountain range, and is an absolute must if you're driving through North Carolina. It's a 1.9 mile summit, with a steep 1 mile descent down the old carriage road. While the carriage road isn't very well maintained, it will shave off quite a bit of time on your descent.
It's funny, I had no desire to see yet another waterfall at this point in our road trip, and yet I'm so happy that we stopped for Linville Falls - they were absolutely stunning! It's only a 1.7 mile route and suitable for people of all ages. Due to this, the falls are extremely crowded. If you're doing your Blue Ridge Parkway road trip to check out foliage (as we were), Linville cannot be missed, as the autumnal colors go beautifully with the waterfalls. Get ready for some gorgeous views!
Craggy Gardens Viewpoint
Along the route, there are many (poorly marked) hikes and Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks. While we were relatively unimpressed with the viewpoints compared to those of Shenandoah National Park, we did really enjoy the Craggy Gardens viewpoint and I definitely think it's worth a stop.
Oconaluftee Indian Village
If you're in North Carolina, it's worth heading to Cherokee for a day to check out their Indian Village that will take you back in time to the 1760s in an authentic way.
There was quite the traffic backup leading to the dome..and quite a lot of fog. We didn't go up to the Dome the first day because there was zero visibility, but the second day we saw what it was all about as we had a beautiful, clear day. The short climb to Clingmans Dome was far steeper than I had expected since it's a paved hike for anyone, but it was worth it. At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the third highest point east of the Mississippi. The summit of Clingmans Dome offers stunning 360 degree views of the Smokies and all of the surrounding areas.