Roanoke’s Blue Ridge Parkway
You haven’t seen Roanoke right until you’ve spent some time on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Although it extends 469 miles, starting in the south at the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in North Carolina (go there too – it’s a spiritual place, particularly if you land in winter when roads are still open but no one’s there) and ending in the north at the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Those in Roanoke will tell you some of the best views are here. They’re not wrong.
Know, phone maps will often steer you in other directions, even though the distance is longer. Before you plan your travel route, consider a computer map search to see if the Parkway is a good option to get to where you want to go. You’ll enjoy the scenery and probably want to add some time to your trip to park and relish the lookout views.
Speed limits are apparently strictly enforced (although I must admit, I’ve never seen a police car in my travels on this route). Signs indicating the legal pace are sparse. The maximum Parkway speed in the Roanoke area is 45 mph with it dropping to 35 mph periodically at exit and entrance ramps. That’s probably why your GPS tends to put you on highways through the City rather than shortcuts through the mountains. No sense taking chances, particularly with the good number cyclists (they tend to travel side-by-side and take up as much of a lane as possible) in the mix on these winding roads. If you figure no faster than 45 mph and let those speed demons with NASCAR dreams pass you, life will be safer.
One of the things I discovered after landing in Roanoke is the attractions and activities are far more outdoor oriented than my former indoor Rochester orientation. If you come to Roanoke as a visitor or a transplant, look for opportunities that let you enjoy the beautiful outdoor scenery and physical workouts offered by these fun discovery tangents. Your heart and mind will thank you for the adrenalin-rich exploration.