On Friday morning we backtracked from Stone Mountain State Park to the Blue Ridge Parkway and continued our journey south at milepost 229. It was foggy and cloudy and the forecast was calling for rain, but we mostly stayed dry. You are starting to stay above 3000 feet on this part of the BRP, and the views were correspondingly spectacular, when we were out of the fog.
Our first extended stop was EB Jeffress Park at milepost 271.9, where there is an easy 1-mile RT loop to a waterfall.
You hit the Linn Cove Viaduct at about milepost 304 - it is an engineering marvel and produces some spectacular views as you drive on a bridge built into the side of the mountain. The visitor center was closed and gated, so we didn’t get to do the 1-mile hike to recreate the famous photo angle of the viaduct.
Not my photo - photo credit:https://flic.kr/p/yW5yV6
Next up was flat rock at milepost 308.3, and it delivers exactly what it advertises on the tin. It’s an easy less than 1 mile RT walk to a mountaintop that is literally a flat(ish) rock with expansive views. I happened to grab my binoculars for this walk and spent a few minutes up top checking out some serious mansions on the next mountain across the valley.
Milepost 316 delivers Linville Falls, another spectacular waterfall and a gorge that is among the deepest you’ll find east of the Grand Canyon.
At milepost 329 you’ll find Bear Den campground. It is right on the BRP. You turn onto a gravel road and ½ mile up a steep mountain dirt road you'll find a very nice campground. It has a couple of playgrounds for the kids, a pond where they can fish or swim, a game room, trails, clean and modern bath houses, and the wifi was even usable at times. The sites are heavily shaded, although they are pretty tight and backing in can be an adventure. They send a staff member in a golf cart to lead you to your site, and they help direct as you back-in, if you don’t have a pull-through site. I was kind of proud of myself for getting the trailer in on the first try. The staff was super friendly and I really liked the campground. The skies opened up around 9 PM, sending us into the trailer for the night.
On Saturday we headed into Ashville (1-hour drive) to visit The Biltmore. It’s a do-not-miss destination if you are in the Ashville area. To get there from the campground I just followed Google Maps, and it sent me down a mountain pass of 15 mph hair pin turns full of warning signs to trucks to turn back now, before you die. At the Biltmore I checked directions home from the campground and sure enough Google wanted to send me the same way. I later asked staff at the campground, and they gave me a much better route that was almost all 4-lane road back to the I-77. When in doubt trust the locals over Google!
Looking at real estate in Ashville but I’m not sure this place is large enough for us
I could live in this room
Achievement kiss a pretty girl in Vanderbilt’s garden unlocked
After The Biltmore we got back on the BRP in Ashville at the BRP Visitor Center at MP 384 and drove it north to the campground, thereby officially driving all of the BRP between milepost 0 and 384 (ignoring the detour near Roanoke). It was pouring rain and foggy the entire way, but that didn’t stop us from our planned goal of standing on top of North Carolina.
Not photoshopped - that was the view behind us
After getting soaked at Mt. Mitchell we headed back to the campground and hid from the rain in the camper that evening. The next morning we packed up and headed home after six nights on the road. The last time I spent six consecutive nights camping I lived in Spain, I was 7, and my parents did all the planning. That’s 19 nights in the Ascape, and we’ve had no serious quality issues with the camper, just some minor fit and finish things that I’ve been repairing myself as the dealer is 2 hours from home and the repairs take me 10 minutes.
Next up - Hatteras for Michelle’s birthday (assuming no untimely hurricanes) and Breck and I head to TN in October for a week to explore Civil War battlefields.