Blue Ridge Parkway closes section for Devil’s Courthouse Tunnel repairs

A small section of the Blue Ridge Parkway,  between Milepost 420 (near Black Balsam Road) and Milepost 423 (at Hwy. 215), will be closed from Nov. 3 through May 2015. 

Haywood looks to start Friends of the Parkway chapter, clear overlooks

fr parkwayfriendsWith park funding falling and visitation increasing, keeping those iconic views open along the 46 miles of Blue Ridge Parkway in Haywood County — without breaking the bank — is a challenge. Fast-growing trees and shrubs grow up around the overlooks irrespective of budgets, so when Parkway Superintendent Mark Woods visited the Haywood Tourism Development Authority’s board meeting last week, it was with a view to talk about how to make those dollars stretch. 

A concessionaire’s conundrum: Pisgah Inn owner hoping NPS contract renewal yields 10 more years of local ownership

coverBy mid-August, there’s already a chill in the air outside Pisgah Inn. Employees and experienced guests walk around in pants and long sleeves, while visitors who didn’t realize August could be this cool sport shorts and tank tops. At 5,000 feet, the panoramic view stays year-round, but autumn comes early. 

“This time of year, it’s full every night,” said the inn’s owner/operator Bruce O’Connell. 

Breakaway breezes into year five

out breakawayMore than 400 riders will push off from Lake Junaluska Aug. 16 for the fifth year of the Blue Ridge Breakaway ride, their routes winding through the curvy, rural roads of Haywood County, with the two longer routes even venturing up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Resurrecting Graveyard Fields: Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation funds makeover for popular recreation site

out frRhododendrons are opening deep pink blooms along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and new spring foliage blends into a bright blue sky dotted with puffy clouds. At the Graveyard Fields overlook this Friday morning, chirping birds and the occasional passing car are the only sounds. “Idyllic” is the word that comes to mind, but this peaceful scene is far from the norm for this pull-off near mile marker 418. 

Smokies and Parkway open to windshield tourists only

fr emptylotThe impasse at the federal level will touch all areas of operation at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway, closing picnic areas, campgrounds, bathrooms, visitor centers and historic sites.

Unlocking the mystery of Graveyard Fields: Why there are so few trees and so many people

coverWhile lines of cars zip down the Blue Ridge Parkway and hikers scurry along its zigzagging trails, Graveyard Fields moves at its own pace.

The high elevation meadows of Graveyard Fields are a crowned jewel of the Shining Rock Wilderness. No trees means great views — views without scrambling up a mountain peak or peering out from intermittent windows in the tree canopy. 

“Tunnel-phobia” has gotten worse as years go by

backthenLeading a field trip isn’t complicated. But there may be more to it than you suppose. It helps if you know ahead of time where you’re going to make stops; where to eat lunch; and where the bathrooms are situated.

High peaks offer the last vestige for vanishing cool-climate species

out frThe fight for survival is nothing new for high-elevation species in Southern Appalachia.

After the glaciers receded at the end of the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago and temperatures warmed, remnants of a cold-weather forest in southern Appalachia were forced high up the mountain slopes. There, they hung on to small, ever-shrinking islands in the upper reaches of the Smoky Mountains — where the coniferous trees on the high peaks more closely resemble southern Canada than North Carolina.

Bicycle touring light Overnight trips take the pressure off planning, purchasing

out frBy Jack Moore • Contributor

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “Not all those who wander are lost,” and he may as well have been writing about bicycle tourists. This time of year in the Smokies it’s not uncommon to see a cyclist, bike loaded with gear, struggling up and over one of our many mountain passes.

You might imagine they are on some grand adventure circumnavigating the globe or at least crossing the country in some epic voyage. You may be right, or it could be that this is one of your cycling neighbors out for a short overnight bicycle camping trip.

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