America’s Favorite Drive: Buckle up and enjoy the autumn show

Often referred to as “America’s Favorite Road,” the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway meanders through the hills and hollers of the Shenandoah National Park all the way to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The landscape is a riot of color each autumn. The fun begins at Milepost 0 in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and ends at 469 in North Carolina at the southern end of the road. The exit for Downtown Roanoke is located at Milepost 120. We’re in the heart of it all with striking views of fall foliage and the surrounding peaks all around. From here, it’s easy access to the Parkway.

For the naturalist in the car, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a feast for the eyes and offers ample opportunity to see area wildlife. From mountaintops to valley bottoms, the area is home to over 130 species of trees, 1,600 plant species, 74 mammals, and over 159 species of birds. There are 47 National Heritage Areas along the Parkway as well as 369 miles of hiking trails and 382 paved scenic overlooks. The mountains provide the 5,700 feet of elevation range along this breathtaking route.