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  1. Default MI->VA->NC->TN->MS-TX! Including Blue Ridge Parkway and Natchez Parkway!

    Hi Y'all,

    As I was planning my road trip next month, I came across this website and thought I'd solicit everyone's advice. I am planning on taking a circuitous road trip from MI to TX in a couple of weeks before school starts up again. Instead of simply doing the google maps version which would get me there quickly and efficiently, I decided to include a couple of scenic routes along the way. I would appreciate any advice y'all may have on all or part of my (flexible) itinerary.

    Day 1) Ann Arbor - Fancy Gap, VA (~513 miles). Find a tent camping spot somewhere near Fancy Gap before I begin the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP). Any ideas for places that allow car camping near here?

    Day 2) Fancy Gap to Asheville, NC along the BRP to Meriwether Lewis campground (near Hohenwald, TN). I was thinking about leaving the BRP around Asheville, but that is completely arbitrary. I'd like to get to TN during this leg of the trip. I expect this will be a long drive since I imagine I'll be stopping at various points along the way. Free camping, yay! (~536 miles via google maps but I don't think it factors in the BRP route).

    Day 3) Natchez Trace Parkway. Hohenwald, TN area --> Tupelo --> Jackson, MS along the Parkway. Probably stop either in Jackson or Vicksburg (civil war buff) for the evening, or maybe continue the 30 or so miles to the Rocky Springs free campsite. I am a little ambivalent about this leg because, while I've heard it's beautiful and scenic, I don't know if it merits the additional time it would take me to cut across to get to TN. (under 400 miles depending on where I end up staying).

    Day 4) Jackson, MS -- San Antonio. Under 600 miles.

    Most of the legs seem manageable, but I can easily tack on another day or two depending on how long I want to stay in the mountains or along the Natchez parkway. I prefer to car camp but, depending on how I feel at the end of the day, I may need to stay in a hotel or two. :)

    If anyone has traveled along either parkway, I'd love to hear your insights especially. If I just travel the Fancy Gap, VA -> Asheville, NC route along the BRP, do you think I'll see enough to make this detour worth it? Should I do more of the BRP? Any particular areas you'd recommend?

    Anyhow, thanks for reading and any suggestions you may have.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    9,270

    Default

    Welcome!

    I think you would really be pushing it on Day 2. It's going to take you at least 6 hours to get to Asheville on the BRP, longer if you make any stops. You are looking at another 7 hours for the rest of the route. I'd add one of your reserve days in here somewhere.

  3. #3

    Default

    I would definitly agree with glc - Day 2 is too long. You'd be doing right at 200 miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway where, if I recall correctly, the speed limit is 45 MPH. You'd then have another 370 miles to Hohenwald with the last 100 miles not being Interstate.

    More importantly, you'd be missing what would be the most scenic part of the trip - US 19 through the Maggie Valley, NC area and US 441 through Smoky Mountain Nat'l Park. My suggestion would be that you squeeze in another day and overnite in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area.

    If I were doing the trip and had the time, I'd pick up the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah Nat'l Park at Front Royal, Virginia. Skyline Drive becomes the Blue Ridge Parkway after leaving Shenandoah.

    This is of course a personal opinion but I would take Skyline Drive/Blue Ridge Parkway over the Natchez Trace if I did not have time to do both.

    Have A Great Trip!!

  4. #4

    Default Slow going on the BRP, camping in the Fancy Gap area

    Hello chones,

    Hillsville, VA is the location of a large commercial campground (as described to me by an RV enthusiast friend). A bit west of there is Galax, and near Galax is Fries (prounounced "freeze"). In Fries is a very nice little commercial campground right in town and a short walk from the New River Trail. A variety of routes can take you from Fries south to the BRP a bit south of Fancy Gap, including VA 89 from Galax. There's a general store + cafe right on the river leaving Fries where one can have a nice breakfast on a picnic table overlooking the Trail and the River enroute back to Galax.

    Be aware this is "high season" for the BRP, with traffic exceeded only by the leaf-peeper traffic in mid-October. Nowhere is the (heavily enforced) posted speed limit > 45 mph and there are plenty of places with 35 mph zones. Whatever interval you plan to run along the BRP, plan on averaging around 30 mph end-to-end in order to take into account some pull-offs and longer stops.

    Taking I-40 from Asheville to the Nashville area (Hohenwald area) is a good 4.5 hour drive, perhaps a little quicker if Knoxville traffic doesn't slow you down too much. Adding that to a day's travel from around Fancy Gap to Asheville along the BRP is too much to enjoy, in my humble opinion. I'd consider staying on the BRP to its end in Cherokee, then US 64 through Bryson City and Andrews, into Tennessee, through the Ocoee River Gorge (site of the 1996 Olympic whitewater course, with numerous pull-offs to watch kayakers and rafters today), to Cleveland, TN, and I-24 west to such point you'd like to cut over to Hohenwald. For that purpose, US 64 from Monteagle looks good, but I rather suspect it's akin to a mountain highway inasmuch as it works the edges of the Cumberland Plateau between Monteagle and Hohenwald.

    The Trace is very nice and it's pleasantly slow. Not so many turnouts, but a low posted speed limit (50mph or so, or is it 45?).

    Enjoy your trip!

    Foy

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    13,063

    Default

    I really have to agree that you're trying to do too much on Day 2. Driving to Asheville alone via the BRP would be a very full day, and that's before you've even considered continuing across Tennessee.

    For comparison sake, it took me most of a day just to drive from Asheville to Boone, NC via BRP last spring. We left Asheville after lunch, camped about halfway, and it was early afternoon by the time we got to Boone. We stopped at several of the overlooks and did a couple of short hikes, but nothing too severe, and there was certainly more we could have done with more time. This was on a weekday in early April, and it was certainly a lot more quiet and less crowded than you'll find in August.

  6. Default

    Hi All,

    Thanks for the great responses. I figured the second leg was a stretch. I am definitely flexible and can spend another night or so in the mountains. If y'all were planning the trip, starting from Fancy Gap, what would be a realistic end point in one day's driving? Cherokee? Someone on another forum suggested Mt. Pisbah. What do y'all think?

    I do want to visit the Shenandoah Valley at some point, but I think in terms of this road trip, I don't know if I would want to do both. I figured the BRP was the best compromise. I'll definitely be back!

  7. #7

    Default Milepost math

    Quote Originally Posted by chones View Post
    Hi All,

    Thanks for the great responses. I figured the second leg was a stretch. I am definitely flexible and can spend another night or so in the mountains. If y'all were planning the trip, starting from Fancy Gap, what would be a realistic end point in one day's driving? Cherokee? Someone on another forum suggested Mt. Pisbah. What do y'all think?




    I do want to visit the Shenandoah Valley at some point, but I think in terms of this road trip, I don't know if I would want to do both. I figured the BRP was the best compromise. I'll definitely be back!

    The online BRP map on the National Park Service website (well worth printing and keeping handy) shows Fancy Gap at MP 200. The exit on the far side of Asheville is at MP 393, or 193 miles further on. At a 30 mph standard, that's a little shy of 7 hours. If the weather is good (no low clouds/fog), you'd for sure want to do the side-trip to the summit of Mount Mitchell, the highest point in the US east of the Mississippi. It's but 6-7 miles from the BRP to the summit parking area, and then just a hundred yards up a paved path to the summit. Mount Pisgah CG is at about the 408, and Cherokee is at the southern terminus of the BRP at MP 469, so the additional time is between a few minutes to a couple of hours past MP 193 at Asheville.

    My sense of how to enjoy this to the greatest extent is to start as early as dawn at Fancy Gap, thus enabling quick but legal and wholly enjoyable travel to the Blowing Rock area near MP 300. By mid- to late morning hours, at Blowing Rock, the traffic will pick up, and you'll simultaneously be entering what I feel is the more dramatically appealing portion of the BRP anywhere north of Asheville--the 100 miles from Blowing Rock to the Asheville exit. You'll want to stop more on that segment, and the sidetrip up Mount Mitchell will take a minimum of an hour to get up there, park, enjoy the view, and get back to the BRP.

    If you're thinking of camping at Mount Pisgah, I'd look to see if a site can be reserved at Recreation.gov, the Federal Gummint's national reservation system for all Federal parks, Nat Forests, and monuments.

    Foy

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