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Why This Scenic Route Is The Most Popular Road Trip In The U.S. Right Now

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The U.S. National Parks Service just released its 2023 visitor data, and one place in particular was the most visited in the entire United States.

Blue Ridge Parkway was the number one most popular National Parks Site in the U.S. for 2023, with a total of 16.7 million visitors.

This scenic route stretches for 469 miles between North Carolina and Virginia, running through the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains.

Flowers blooming along Blue Ridge Parkway. Highway winding in the mountains Summer mountain scenery. Near Asheville, North Carolina, USA.

Here's why so many travelers visited the Blue Ridge Parkway last year and why it's the perfect road trip:

Explore America's Most Visited National Park

The Blue Ridge Parkway connects the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the border of North Carolina & Tennessee with Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country, with over 13.2 million visitors last year.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

It's the perfect place to start your Blue Ridge Parkway road trip. Spend a day or two exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park and enjoying outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and camping.

Then hit the road and start driving the Blue Ridge Parkway!

Scenic Views And Stops Along The Way

You could theoretically drive the entire 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway in about 12 hours if you didn't make any stops, but the beauty of a road trip is stopping along the way!

Blue Ridge Parkway

One reason so many travelers love the Blue Ridge Parkway is because of the scenic mountain views you'll enjoy as you drive, and the great stops you can make along the way.

The top three stops I recommend making as you drive the Blue Ridge Parkway are:

Asheville, North Carolina: This trendy town is known for its restaurants, breweries, and art galleries. It's also worth stopping at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, the largest private home in the United States constructed by the Vanderbilt family in the late 19th century.

Blue Ridge Parkway ,near Asheville, North Carolina, USA.

Blowing Rock, North Carolina: A charming small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Blowing Rock is another great stop on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The main highlight here is hiking up to the Blowing Rock, a rock formation with sweeping views over the mountains.

Roanoke, Virginia: Another popular place to stop on a Blue Ridge Parkway road trip is Roanoke. This vibrant small city is a great place to explore with lots of museums and attractions.

Roanoke Virginia

Finish In An Underrated National Park

The Blue Ridge Parkway ends at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Although Shenandoah is not as popular or widely visited as Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this underrated national park is definitely still worth a stop!

This is another national park with beautiful mountain scenery and lots of great hikes and scenic viewpoints. It's the perfect place to end your Blue Ridge Parkway road trip.

Shenandoah National Park

Road Trips Are Affordable

Road tripping on the Blue Ridge Parkway was so popular last year because it's a very affordable vacation!

With many destinations getting more and more expensive, you can still save money on a road trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Your main costs will be a rental car (if you don't have your own vehicle for the trip), gas, and food. Accommodation is something you can save a lot of money on by camping or even sleeping in your car!

woman camping alone with beautiful sunset view

Of course, you can also spend money on hotels, with plenty of options for every budget along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I would recommend at least 5 days for a Blue Ridge Parkway road trip, but you could easily spend 7 to 10 days driving it depending on how many stops you want to make.

The best time for a Blue Ridge Parkway road trip is late spring through fall — it's one of the best fall foliage destinations in the United States!

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