devils courthouse on the blue ridge parkway in North Carolina

Day 71 – Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina)

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Day 71 of a Year Long Road Trip Along America’s Scenic Byways

It was a cloudy morning at Walmart, yet not a bad view.  I started my day early on the Southern part of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The foggy, misty, and windy weather made my visit to the Parkway feel somewhat eerie.  I was the only one around.  No cars were on the road and none were at our first stop, Waterrock Knob. 

Waterrock Knob

Waterrock Knob was an important location to the pioneers due to its mountainside spring.  With the area blanketed in fog, I didn’t see the spring.  The view of clouds remained the same upon arriving at the summit after scrambling up a half mile on a slick, rocky trail.  I did, however, find a cache. Though it wasn’t easy.  I lost reception on my phone near the summit, so without directions to the exact coordinates, I just began looking under rocks as I walked. 

Shockingly, I first found a “letter box” hidden by “TreasurehikersUSA.com”.  I had to look up the organization online to determine the purpose of the letter box.  Apparently, the association teams up with states to encourage longer hikes by offering incentive tags based on accumulated points. How lucky I was to find the letter box and a handful of rocks later, the hidden ammo can?!?

waterrock knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina

The Blue Ridge Parkway

After my search for the geocache, I continued on my way. I supposed I wasn’t the only one on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I spotted this beautiful bird of prey.  I need Bart, the birder, to identify it.  Its face and breast were very light relative to any of the other hawks and vultures I’ve seen soaring overhead.  I had a perfect photo opportunity of it perched on a high, tree limb as I passed in VANilla.  By the time I reversed, parked on the grass aside the road, retrieved my camera, and rolled down the window, it flew off and turned its back to me. That sounds about right with most birds!

bird of prey on the blue ridge parkway in North Carolina

Richland Balsam

The dogs and I continued southeast to the highest point of the Blue Ridge Parkway at Richland Balsam.  The area is covered in a spruce and frasier fir forest, though many of the frasier firs have been killed by an insect called the balsam woolly adelgid which was accidentally imported to the United States from Europe in the early 1900s.

Devils Courthouse

From Richland Balsam, we drove to Devils Courthouse where we took our next walk. The Devils Courthouse is rocky summit that both Cherokees and early settlers thought was haunted by demons.  The rocks conceal a cave where the devil was believed to hold court.  The summit provides a splendid mountainous view.  On a clear day, visitors can see South Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee.

Looking Glass Rock Overlook

On our way to Mount Pisgah, we exited the Blue Ridge Parkway and visited the Looking Glass Rock Overlook.  The rock is a pluton, a mass of molten rock formed underground that becomes exposed through centuries of erosion. When water or ice rests on the face of Looking Glass Rock, the surface reflects rays of sunlight like a mirror.  Clearly, I wasn’t a witness to a sunlight reflection today.

Looking Glass Rock Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina

Our final stop before resting in Asheville was supposed to be Mount Pisgah, an area where the chance of a bear sighting is more likely than other areas on the parkway.  Unfortunately, the campground was closed.  Since I have one decent picture of a bear and the weather was fairly gloomy, we arrived in Asheville early enough to watch an afternoon matinee – Unstoppable.  The movie was great and the popcorn hit the spot! ETB

Map of My Road Trip Across the USA

For a summary about my road trip across the USA, click HERE. For the interactive map, see the below link.

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

One thought on “Day 71 – Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina)

  1. A movie and popcorn sounds great! Hoping to have time for that sometime before Christmas! Miss you punkin! Give Scout and Petey a pat from me!
    xo’s Mom

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