In the friendly little mountain town of Floyd, Friday nights mean three generations of locals including cloggers, mountain dancers, farmers, artists, and musicians blowing off workweek steam by playing, listening to, or dancing along with live bluegrass while imbibing a little ‘shine in the mountain tradition.
Floyd was my first stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the 469-mile ridge-riding ribbon that runs from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But it certainly wasn’t my last. Every season here is gorgeous, from scarlet-leaf-filled fall to summer, when the heady scent of honeysuckle coaxes you out of your car. In winter, snow dusts the highest passes and the mountains grow a charming beard of icicles; spring is when wildflowers bloom and fawns peer out of the brush.
For these reasons, and at least 469 others—figure there’s at least one for every mile marker—the Blue Ridge Parkway is known as “America’s favorite scenic drive.” But it’s more than just a drive. It’s fields and balds filled to capacity with fireflies blinking in the summer twilight, mountains aflame with fall color as far as the eye can see, more wildflowers and spring peepers croaking than you could count in a lifetime, and the stillness of snow falling from a white winter sky to cover the blacktop highway. It’s cultured cities like Asheville and Roanoke, hiking trails to waterfalls, and sights that celebrate our national heritage, from Oconaluftee Indian Village to the National D-Day Memorial in small-town Bedford. It’s quiet moments on a mountainside overlook, gazing out over Virginia’s vast plains and the folded hills of North Carolina and realizing that the road that led you here will take you home…but you’ll be different for having driven its miles and drunk in its beauty.