Cradle of Forestry/ Shutterstock Image

Cradle of Forestry/ Shutterstock Image

Know Before You Go, Blue Ridge Parkway South


blue ridge parkway south tour map


Start Planning! 

You’re about to go on an epic adventure along the Blue Ridge Parkway South: Cherokee to Asheville! Here’s what you need to know before you go. 

  • The tour has two starting points: the southern terminus of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Cherokee, NC, and on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville, just off US-25 near the Biltmore.
  • The tour is available in two directions, south to north and north to south.
  • The tour takes about a full day - 8 hours to complete.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, however, roadwork projects may impact your trip. Check the NPS website in advance.
  • The Visitor Centers along the Blue Ridge Parkway have varying hours of operation, please check the NPS website in advance. 
  • There is no entrance fee to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway. 
  • Some facilities, restaurants, and attractions are seasonal, see below under budgeting & hours of operation for more information. 

Budgeting & Hours of Operation

falls in autumnLooking Glass Falls/ Shutterstock Image

How much you spend truly depends on what you do along the tour route, but here’s a breakdown of some costs. 


  • It’s free to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway. 
  • The Cradle of Forestry in America is $6 for adults, $3 for children, and free for 3 and under. 
  • Sliding Rock is $5 per person. 
  • The North Carolina Arboretum does not have individual admission, but a $20 parking fee.

Hours of Operation

Please note that many attractions along the Blue Ridge Parkway are seasonal. We’ve outlined those below. 

  • The Cradle of Forestry in America is open daily 10 am-5 pm from spring to fall. 
  • Sliding Rock is open 10 am-6 pm on the days facilities are open, which is daily Memorial Day through Labor Day, and on weekends in May and September. 
  • The North Carolina Arboretum is open daily from 8 am-9 pm from April to October, and 8 am-7 pm daily from November to March. 
  • The Waterrock Knob Visitor Center is open daily from 10 am-5 pm from mid-April to November.
  • The Pisgah Inn and Restaurant is open daily from April to October serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We recommend making a reservation in advance, you can make a reservation 30 days out. 
  • Many visitor centers have varying hours of operation, learn more here

Get Packing! 

Black Balsam Bald/ Shutterstock Image

??Here’s our packing list for this tour. It may seem a little long, but remember, what you bring depends on the activities you choose to do for the day. 

  • Phone charger - very important!
  • Phone mount 
  • Sneakers
  • Hiking clothes - pack layers. 
  • Hiking shoes
  • Jacket
  • Hat/sunglasses
  • Lawn chairs, for soaking in that perfect view
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Canteen/ refillable water bottle
  • Snacks
  • Credit card
  • Swimsuits for Sliding Rock

Best Time to Visit 

garden of flowersNorth Carolina Arboretum/ Shutterstock Image

Summer and Fall are the two best times to drive the Parkway. Everything is open in the summer, and the flowers are blooming the most. Fall gets some spectacular autumn colors. During the winter, the Park Service may close sections of the Parkway due to snow and ice. That wintry weather can last well into the spring.

Safety Information

It’s never a good idea to hike alone. Keep an eye out for black bears while hiking. The Parkway is generally safe with a decent amount of shoulder space alongside the road, but it is a twisty mountain road. Keep an eye out for other cars and bicyclists, especially when driving on a curve.

Leave No Trace

While exploring, we encourage you to abide by the leave-no-trace principles. Embrace the outdoors responsibly with our commitment to preserving natural wonders. Respect wildlife habitats, minimize your footprint, and carry out memories, not waste. By following Leave No Trace principles, you contribute to the longevity and beauty of our planet's most stunning landscapes.

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We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

Check out the Blue Ridge Parkway South Tour Itinerary for more information to help you plan your day! 

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Know Before You Go, Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville

Know Before You Go, Blue Ridge Parkway Virginia

Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville Itinerary

Blue Ridge Parkway South Itinerary

Blue Ridge Parkway Virginia Itinerary


29 Best Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes

The Story of the Blue Ridge Parkway

A Guide to Blue Ridge Parkway Entrances

Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville: The Ultimate Tourist's Guide

Blue Ridge Parkway Virginia: Ultimate Travel Guide

List of Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks from VA to NC


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