Blue Ridge Parkway Help!

Old Jul 18th, 2010, 11:14 AM
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Blue Ridge Parkway Help!

We are planning a trip in September to the blue ridge parkway. We are going to spend one night in Asheville, one night in Blowing Rock, five nights at Peaks of Otter, two nights in Charlottesville and two nights near Luray or Front Royal. We were in Asheville several years ago so we do not want to spend time there again. Does five nights at Peaks of Otter seem to much? Also is there enough to do in that area for four days. We have been there before but I don't recall how much time we stayed. I don't know anything about Luray or Front Royal area. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you!
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Old Jul 18th, 2010, 12:49 PM
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5 nights!! My first reaction was "what"!! Might take another look at Ashville. It just keeps getting better.
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Old Jul 18th, 2010, 01:38 PM
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5 nights at Peaks of Otter is way too long. If you are staying at the lodge, the rooms are super basic--no frills. Be sure and see the Bedford World War II Memorial. Not a whole lot going on in that area. I would increase my time in Blowing Rock. There are many more activities nearby and lots of great places to eat and shop.
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Old Jul 18th, 2010, 04:50 PM
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We are staying at the lodge and I do remember the rooms as very basic, but the views were wonderful. Would 4 nights be too many? We have 2 weeks and we are trying to fill up the days. We really didn't want to stay in Asheville over one night since we were there within the last 2 years. Do you have any other suggestions for areas that we could check out? Is there enough to do if we stayed in Blowing Rock for 2 nights? I thought that was a very touristy area. Thanks for any help.
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Old Jul 18th, 2010, 07:25 PM
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Luray has the Luray Caverns with an antique car museum.

Front Royal has a neat Main street with several restaurants.

At the northern end of BR Pkwy why not head over toward Staunton and visit the Museum of Frontier Culture. Then go into Staunton itself. It's more interesting than Front Royal.
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Old Jul 19th, 2010, 03:53 AM
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When we did the Blue ridge we came from Gatlinburg TN and stayed 3 days in Asheville(Biltmore,Chimney rock park )-then we stopped for 1 night in Roanoke and for 2 daays in Charlotteville(visit Ash-lawn-highland,Monticello,Michie tavern);;; we then had 1 day in Harpers ferry before leaving for Brussels from Wash.DC.Paul
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Old Jul 19th, 2010, 04:54 AM
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Blowing Rock is "touristy" but also in a lovely area of the state. Do you fish? There are many craft shops. Boone is nearby. Since you mention "touristy", what is it that you like to do?
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Old Jul 19th, 2010, 07:52 AM
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We like to do some shopping. We like to canoe or kayak, but we will probably do that when we go to Shenandoah National Park. We love to hike and drive to scenic area's. My main concern is are we spending too much time at Peaks of Otter? We have the end of our trip planned with going to Charlottesville, Luray and Staunton. I just need help with the beginning of the trip. So if we go to Blowing Rock for two days is that too much time. I do not want to shop for two days. If we spend 4 nights at Peaks of Otter not 5 is that still too much time. I figure we would drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and explore and hike. Also, does anyone know of any lodging on the blue ridge parkway as we head towards Shehandoah. Thank you everyone for all of your help.
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Old Jul 19th, 2010, 08:56 AM
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5 nights is way too much. If you like the water, there are many places nearby that would be great for you. I would suggest Todd. I return to that same area several times a year & never have a problem finding new things to do. (I have a recent trip report on here that may be helpful). I'll also throw out Black Mt. & the Boone area, although I typically stay around Todd or W. Jeff. Many wineries are also en route, both in NC & in & around Charlottesville.
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Old Jul 19th, 2010, 09:26 AM
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Love Black Mountain/Montreat (outside Asheville) & Valle Crucis, Banner Elk area (we took a beautiful drive up from Valle Crucis (original Mast General Store) to the top of Sugar Mtn 2 years ago in Sept & it was great.
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Old Jul 19th, 2010, 10:30 AM
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The Peaks of Otter is a great place to relax and do some hiking but not much else around. Probably 2 days (3 max.) would be plenty of time to explore the area. I would suggest spending more time in the Wintergreen and Charlottesville area. Endlees Caverns in Luray,rafting down the Shenandoah River,and Civil War sightseeing in Winchester and Harpers Ferry are other possibilities. There should be nightly cabins for rent and there are plenty of hiking trails along the parkway.You should be able to locate specific info. on their website. Enjoy.
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Old Jul 19th, 2010, 04:33 PM
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The south fork of the Shenandoah River is great for canoeing, tubing, or rafting. There is an outfitter in Luray who rents canoes and tubes and they will pick you up and bring back to their starting point. That is not the most scenic part of the river though.

If you were to take rte 340 from Luray to Front Royal you would pass through Bentonville which also has canoe outfitters. They will shuttle you up river for 4-8-12- or 16 mile trips. The 8 or twelve is ideal and for the most part you go with the flow. There are some stretches where you do have to paddle. The scenery is beautiful and as the river twists and turns you always seem to be surrounded by mountains.

The outfitters give out maps, and mileage markers are on the trees along the bank so you always know where you are.

There is one class two or three rapid, Compton Rapids, that you can hear the roar of as you approach it, but by staying to the right it is a piece of cake to go down through. We have seen first timers come down it backwards and not flip.

The only other rapid of note is called The Ledge, a class one which is taken to the extreme left and is about a one foot drop. That's a good place to beach the canoe for a swim call. The water is still warm enough in September to do it.

Many years ago we canoed the river for our first time and enjoyed it so much we be bought a canoe the following week and had many great years enjoying the river.
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Old Jul 19th, 2010, 06:20 PM
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I would second the outfitter Ronkala is referring to in Bentonville. Make sure to check the river level first, though.

http://www.downriver.com/riverconditions

Nearby is Fort Valley, a very scenic drive thru a bucolic valley in the middle of the Massanutten Mtn. Rte 678. You would get on it off Rte 55 a few miles west of Front Royal and it will lead you back to Luray. If you are ok with driving on a dirt road for a few miles (I've done it myself plenty of times in my Honda) a detour up to the Woodstock Tower would be nice.

Order a DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer of VA and NC. They are $20 each and will be a huge help as they are topo maps on top of roads maps, with all the back roads, points of interest, and a bunch of other information. It's very helpful to see the lay of the land, on top of all the rest of the value it has.

I'd also consider a jaunt into eastern WV. The Monongahela National Forest region is a national treasure and all three roads leading into it from VA, 39/250/33, are very scenic, fun drives.

An area near Blowing Rock that you may like is Roan Mountain on the TN/NV line. National Forest land. It'll take an hour or so to get to it, but is absolutely worth it. It's above 6000 feet. The section of the AT heading north from Carver Gap is considered by many to be the best stretch in the southern Appalachians. There is another fairly easy trail that heads thru a nice spruce forest to an overlook at the summit. Magnificent views. Go here instead of shopping in Blowing Rock! Or do that at night. And definitely pay whatever they charge ($20 each?) to go to Grandfather Mtn.
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Old Jul 19th, 2010, 07:52 PM
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Thank you everyone for the wonderful suggestions. I will definitely check out the outfitter in Luray for canoeing. I will check out Roan Mountain also and Grandfather Mountain. I have heard people complain about how much it is but if it is that good I will pay the money. Now does anyone have any suggestions for places to stay in Blowing Rock? Is the Holiday Inn decent? The Village Inn sounds very nice but someone said it is right next to a restaurant and sometimes noisy.
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Old Jul 20th, 2010, 12:29 PM
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5 nights if you are walking the Appalachian trail perhaps...why not travel The Crooked Road: Virginia's Heritage Music Trail which begins in Rocky Mount VA (there is a great B&B in Rocky Mount with a huge front porch!) and then goes to Ferrum - Blue Ridge Institute with a mountain dulcimer exhibit and on up to Floyd - for their Friday Night Jamboree (world famous, people come from all over to experience this!)

Smith Mountain Lake, Wineries, music - these are the exit from MP121 on the Blue Ridge Parkway
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Old Jul 20th, 2010, 12:50 PM
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The outfitter in Luray is www.shenandoahriver.com is very reliable as is Down River canoe in Bentonville. Rte 340 Luray to Bentonville is 11 miles, Luray to Front Royal 23 miles.

One time we did an overnighter on the river from Luray, camped on federal land above Compton Rapids, and continued on to Bentonville the next day. The first five miles or so from Luray was not that scenic.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2010, 10:30 AM
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I recommend you stay in Front Royal, rather than Luray. Luray doesn't have much to offer 'cept the caverns. Front Royal has more places to stay and is closer to more restaurants. Winchester is about 30 minutes away, Culpeper, Warrenton & D.C. is about an hour away.
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