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An Overnight Trip on The Blue Ridge Parkway

By David Morris

I spend a lot of time in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina along the North Carolina, Virginia border, usually just riding my motorcycle on the scenic mountain roads but this weekend I decided to dedicate a lot of time to photography. There are a lot of wonderful sites along the stretch of road I followed on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I traveled, basically, south from Meadows of the Dan (Hwy 58 interchange) to N. Wilkesboro (Hwy 421 interchange).

When traveling to the Blue Ridge Parkway, my usual port of call is Fancy Gap, Virginia just north of Mt. Airy, North Carolina. My family and I have a trailer we keep in Utt’s Campground all year even though the campground is only open seasonally for 6 months. So I usually spend the night there and travel outwards. This weekend, I decided to go up to Martinsville, Virginia and pick up 58-W over through Stewart and Lover’s Leap to get on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Meadows of the Dan, Virginia. Just north of there about 3 miles is Mabry Mill. This is a beautiful mill that is still in operation grinding wheat and whatever. After spending time there, I headed south on the parkway to Highway 52 and Fancy Gap to spend the night.

That night, the sky was crystal clear and the Milky Way was very visible. If you have never seen it, it looks like a narrow cloud band that crosses the entire sky. That is not a cloud but all the visible stars that make up our wonderful galaxy.

I decided to wake up 5:00am and travel back north about 10 miles to Groundhog Mountain. At that site, there is a look-out tower you can enter and get a wonderful view of the sunrise. In that 10-mile stretch of the parkway, I saw 3 deer standing along side of the road, AND, another deer with a family of raccoons standing square in the middle of my lane. After a rather abrupt reduction in speed, they did eventually move, but still reminded me that at night on the parkway, the wild life takes ownership of the road.

So after spending several hours at Groundhog Mountain, I traveled a little ways south on the parkway and decided to go down to Mt. Airy for breakfast via the road at Orchard Gap. That is a rather steep and tight-turning road that eventually get access to US-52 just N. of Mt. Airy. I returned to the trailer, ate my breakfast, and prepared for my trip home.

This time I decided to go further south on the Parkway than I had ever been before; I decided to go all the way to highway 421 and then return home through N. Wilkesboro, North Carolina. I stopped at several overlooks along the way but about 5-6 hours later, I returned safely home.

At one overlook, I do not remember which one, there were a whole group of people with really big binoculars and scopes with and w/out attached cameras lining this little hill along the overlook. They sort of reminded me of that scene in “Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind” when everyone was waiting for the space ships to fly by on that road. As it turns out, during the month of September, there is a very large preditorial bird migration that use the updrafts along that particular ridge to gain altitude to continue their flight south. As many as a hundred can be seen at a time circling in the sky, slowly climbing without ever flapping their wings, just soaring. I didn’t see any while I was there but about 20 miles down the road, I saw 3 doing just that at a different overlook (again I don’t remember which one).

Anyway, here are some of the pictures I took on this little overnight excursion.

2 Responses to An Overnight Trip on The Blue Ridge Parkway

  1. Jessica Icenhour

    Great Images of the Blue Ridge Parkway! We hope you will stop by and visit us in Mount Airy, NC Soon which is close To Mabry Mill but wonderful photos!!!!

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