Smokies, Parkway, top NPS visitation list for 2021

The two most visited national parks of 2021 are located right here in Western North Carolina, according to figures released by the National Park Service today.

‘More than a road’: New superintendent discusses her vision for the Blue Ridge Parkway

Growing up in Columbia, South Carolina, Tracy Swartout made some of her favorite childhood memories traveling the 469-mile ridge road known as the Blue Ridge Parkway. Since May, she’s been leading it as superintendent

Two injured in bear encounter: Parkway logs first bear attack in at least 25 years

Trail closures and food prohibitions are expected to remain in place on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville through the end of the week after a bear attack sent two people to the hospital last week. 

Bear attack injures two on the Blue Ridge Parkway

A black bear injured two people near the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Asheville when it attacked on Wednesday, Sept. 29.

Smokies, Parkway spared drop in park visitor spending

Visitor spending in national park communities during 2020 was just over two-thirds the amount spent in 2019, but parks in Western North Carolina were spared that drop, according to a new report from the National Park Service. Together, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway accounted for more than 10% of visits to national park units in 2020. 

Blue Ridge Parkway serves up the best of the mountains

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a National Parkway and All-American Road that winds for 469 miles from the southern end of Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive in Virginia to U.S. 441 at Oconaluftee in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Cherokee.

Parkway gets new superintendent

Tracy Swartout will take over as superintendent for the Blue Ridge Parkway on May 23 following the departure of former Superintendent J.D. Lee last summer. Alexa Viets, the Parkway’s chief of resource management and interpretation, has served as acting superintendent since then.

WNC claims two of 2020’s three most visited National Park units

Despite the pandemic — or perhaps because of it — Western North Carolina was home to two of the nation’s three most visited National Park Service units in 2020.

Early morning Parkway shooting under investigation

Law enforcement is investigating an early morning shooting that occurred just before 3 a.m. this morning near milepost 364 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Parkway begins reopening

The Blue Ridge Parkway has reopened its southernmost 14 miles and plans to reopen additional gates this weekend once seasonal mowing and road preparations are complete. 

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