Both the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive are organized by mileposts. Markers, signs, and pillars note each mile, and waypoints include directions like “Blue Ridge Parkway Milepost 52.6.” This system makes it easy to anticipate where the next sight, visitor center, or hike may be. On Skyline Drive, you’ll travel from mile 0 in Front Royal, Va., to mile 105.5 at Rockfish Gap, near Waynesboro, Va. At Rockfish Gap, the Blue Ridge Parkway begins with mile 0, then carries on down the mountain chain to Cherokee, N.C., and mile 469.
You’ll need to fuel up at the towns, cities, and waysides off the parkway.You can drive your own car the 740-mile length of the Skyline Drive-Blue Ridge Parkway-Great Smoky Mountains National Park route, or you can pick up a rental car at or near the airport or train station where you begin your journey. Do check that you will have a place to turn in the car at the other end if you plan on taking a one-way trip, and note that some companies levy hefty fees for this service.
Gasoline is available at only one place along Skyline Drive and nowhere on the Blue Ridge Parkway. You’ll need to fuel up at the towns, cities, and waysides off the parkway. Fuel availability is noted at the beginning of relevant chapters in Moon Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip, but as a rule, you’ll find a gas station near any town or major route that crosses the Parkway.
The speed limit on the Parkway is 45 mph, though it slows to 35 or even 25 in certain areas. Along Skyline Drive, the speed limit is 35 mph. You’ll encounter a great deal of wildlife along the drive. At any faster than the speed limit, you pose a threat to animals and yourself, as you may not have adequate time to stop if you encounter an animal. The National Park Service can pull you over and issue tickets, so keep your speed appropriate to the traffic and weather. Traffic slows considerably during peak seasons. During autumn, you may never reach the speed limit.
Many locals choose to travel a segment of the Parkway then return home via Interstates to reduce travel time. If you fly into one of the travel hubs covered in Moon Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip, you’ll likely travel one way, north or south, along the route and depart from an airport on the other end. Otherwise, you may do like the locals, traveling the Parkway one direction and a faster route on the return trip.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip.