Blue Ridge Parkway to reopen some NC roads to vehicle access

This Wednesday, May 9, 2010 photo shows the view from an overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway...
This Wednesday, May 9, 2010 photo shows the view from an overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Rocky Knob in Floyd, Va. This year the National Park Service is celebrating the parkway's 75th anniversary with a variety of events, including a weekend festival in September. That makes this summer and fall a good time to enjoy hiking and camping, local arts, and small-town life along "America's Favorite Drive." (AP Photo/Zinie Sampson)(WDBJ)
Published: May. 8, 2020 at 9:26 AM EDT
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announced Friday it would increase access to sections of roads previously closed to motor traffic in North Carolina.

Beginning Saturday, the parkway will reopen access to the southernmost 14 miles of the park, from Milepost 454-469, in coordination with the Qualla Boundary and Great Smoky Mountains National Park reopening.

Beginning May 15, the parkway says it will start to reopen gates for vehicles to access the following locations, once road preparations and moving are complete:

- Milepost 292-296.5 near Blowing Rock, including Moses Cone Parking Area and Hwy 221 Bass Lake Parking Lot.

- Milepost 298.6-308 through Grandfather Mountain area, including Rough Ridge and Linn Cove Viaduct

- Milepost 316.4 Linville Falls Spur Road, including parking at Linville Falls trailheads

- Milepost 334-342 including Crabtree Falls Area, near Little Switzerland, NC

- Milepost 355-375.6 from Mt. Mitchell to Ox Creek, including Craggy Gardens

- Milepost 377.4 Parking areas at Craven Gap (Town Mountain Rd) for MST Trail access

- Milepost 384.7 Roadside parking at MST Trailheads at US 74A Parkway access ramps

- Milepost 393-454 from French Broad River Overlook and south to Soco Gap

“We are pleased to once again provide motor vehicle access to these popular Blue Ridge Parkway locations. We know the park’s recreation opportunities and scenic beauty provide important ways to connect with our natural environment during this time, and for many a leisurely drive on the Parkway provides solace,” said J.D. Lee, superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway. “Our phased approach to the 2020 visitor season is focused on balancing the enjoyment and protection of this park with the enjoyment and protection of our visitors. I encourage everyone who visits the Parkway in the coming days to recreate responsibly while here, whether that’s social distancing on park trails or driving safely on this beautiful, scenic drive.”

The following areas remain closed due to health guidelines:

- Road closure from Milepost 0 to 13 in Virginia,

- Milepost 85.9 Peaks of Otter Visitor Center and Sharp Top Parking Areas closed,

- Milepost 92.5 Sharp Top Parking Widening closed at Appalachian Trail crossing, and all

- Seasonal visitor service facilities including campgrounds, picnic areas, restrooms and visitor centers.

Moving forward, the parkway will examine facility function and services to ensure operations comply with health guidelines. Park officials will continue to work the the NPS using CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of workers and visitors.

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