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Old 02-27-08, 05:50 PM   #1
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Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive, When?

Considering weather and traffic, what is the best time of year to do this ride? The changing leaves in the fall sound great but I imagine the traffic is pretty heavy then, so I am thinking that May or June might be nice.

Since my leave is limited this year it might be a good year for a shortish 7-9 day ride like this. It has the added benefit of not being too far from home. We rode a short bit of the BRP while doing the TransAmerica last summer and thought it looked like great riding.
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Old 02-27-08, 06:31 PM   #2
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Any time between June and September should be ideal. April and May could be nice, depending on the weather but it can still get pretty cold and nasty at that elevation in spring. Avoid fall leaf season like the plague as traffic is extremely heavy then. BTW, there is book titled something like Cycling the Blueridge Parkway that is indespensable if decide to do it.
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Old 02-27-08, 06:43 PM   #3
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Early September when the weather cools down and after the kiddies are back in school (cutting down traffic) would be best I think. I live 40 miles from Skyline drive and that's the best time of year around here. Later into October is good for the fall colors as well but it gets a bit colder obviously.
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Old 02-27-08, 07:10 PM   #4
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The best month for touring the BRP is April.
You will have very little traffic and the temps tend to be ideal for riding.
You will also have open, long range views before full leaf out, but you will be looking down on lower elevations where spring has already been sprung. Verdant.
The wildflowers along the BRP in April are incredible. They add a great deal of pleasure to the long, slow-paced climbs. Mesmerizing.
The next best time is either September or May.
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Old 02-27-08, 07:11 PM   #5
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+1 Right after Labor Day.

In NC, early to mid May can be very questionable weather wise. Early June could be OK before the crowds start showing up. Much of the VA portion is at relatively lower elevations.

Leaf season is a poor choice, not only do you have heavier traffic, some drivers are looking at the leaves, not the road...
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Old 02-27-08, 07:19 PM   #6
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September traffic is 3X April traffic.
In April, it's basically you and the motorcycles.
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Old 02-27-08, 07:20 PM   #7
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The best month for touring the BRP is April.
...
The next best time is either September or May.
I tend to ride Skyline Drive from Front Royal to Waynesboro and back on succesive days in May... weather has varied from cold rain, to hot summery type days, to terrible fog (visibility about 15 feet), to cool-- it's really a crap shoot. It is a beautiful ride though-

train safe-
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Old 02-28-08, 06:36 AM   #8
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Wow! I am surprised at how widespread the suggestions are. Looking at climate data it looks like it is a crap shoot any reasonable time of year and I just need to be prepared for whatever weather comes. The fog does concern me a bit, but it sounds like that can be at any time on the BRP.

The traffic data is available on line and to be honest doesn't look too bad any time except peak leaf season. I am basing that on the stats and my one time passing through in August (on a Sunday). I think maybe I am more tolerant of traffic than some (I didn't think Yellowstone was that bad and others complained that it was horrible).

In the long run it may come down to when it fits my schedule and may be spur of the moment at that.
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Old 02-28-08, 08:17 AM   #9
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Wow! I am surprised at how widespread the suggestions are. Looking at climate data it looks like it is a crap shoot any reasonable time of year and I just need to be prepared for whatever weather comes. The fog does concern me a bit, but it sounds like that can be at any time on the BRP.

The traffic data is available on line and to be honest doesn't look too bad any time except peak leaf season. I am basing that on the stats and my one time passing through in August (on a Sunday). I think maybe I am more tolerant of traffic than some (I didn't think Yellowstone was that bad and others complained that it was horrible).

In the long run it may come down to when it fits my schedule and may be spur of the moment at that.
You are right about the weather being a crapshoot anytime.
Whenever you go, try to get as much riding in as possible on weekdays.
Where did you find the traffic data ?
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Old 02-28-08, 08:29 AM   #10
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Where did you find the traffic data ?
http://www.efl.fhwa.dot.gov/files/pr...ge-Parkway.pdf
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Old 02-28-08, 09:16 AM   #11
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Seriously, get a copy of this book. It's only $11 at Amazon, and has everything you need to know about cycling the parkway.

http://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Blue...211526&sr=1-11

The reason why you are getting varied responses about cycling in the spring is that the weather in Southern Appalachians can vary extremely widely in the spring. It would not be surprising to have sunny 70-degree days, or even snowstorms in April. The famous Assault on Grandfather Mountain is generally in May, and they have had tremendous extremes in weather. So, if you are traveling a long or making plans that can't be easily changed, be forewarned.
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Old 02-28-08, 10:40 AM   #12
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Seriously, get a copy of this book. It's only $11 at Amazon, and has everything you need to know about cycling the parkway.

http://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Blue...211526&sr=1-11

The reason why you are getting varied responses about cycling in the spring is that the weather in Southern Appalachians can vary extremely widely in the spring. It would not be surprising to have sunny 70-degree days, or even snowstorms in April. The famous Assault on Grandfather Mountain is generally in May, and they have had tremendous extremes in weather. So, if you are traveling a long or making plans that can't be easily changed, be forewarned.
I actually have a copy already. I have skimmed through it and didn't come away with a clear idea about the weather there in various months of the year. Maybe I just need to read again more thoroughly.
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Old 02-28-08, 06:46 PM   #13
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Look for an alternate route on weekends, or short days. Its amazing how the traffic drops off on weekdays. I have been out both Spring and Fall, both are killer. 1 week before the campgrounds open, they turn on the hot water prep the campgrounds (stealth camping with fresh cut grass and hot showers).
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Old 02-28-08, 10:42 PM   #14
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I will be making this trip in May, and have a copy of the book.

Just curious, how feasible is stealth camping along this route?

Thanks,
Joey French
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Old 02-29-08, 06:18 AM   #15
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I will be making this trip in May, and have a copy of the book.

Just curious, how feasible is stealth camping along this route?

Thanks,
Joey French
When in May? There is a group going in early May led by Paul Gordy of the Tidewater Bicycle Association. If you want to join them I can probably dig up more info.

It is quite possible, but definitely not legal unless you leave park property. The park is a fairly narrow strip so getting off of park property may be possible on the BRP.

Edit: Paul's May 4-13th trip info is at:
http://members.cox.net/blueridgecycl...Trip/index.htm

Last edited by staehpj1; 02-29-08 at 06:27 AM.
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Old 02-29-08, 07:53 AM   #16
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Bears?
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Old 02-29-08, 10:18 AM   #17
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Bears?
Yes there are bears. Not sure how much of a problem they are to stealth campers there, but I know of a few riders who have stealth camped there and didn't hear about problems. I do not know what precautions they took. I would at least sleep away from the gear and where you cooked and hang anything that was attractive to bears again away from where I was sleeping.

All that said, I don't see a pressing need to stealth camp there. I personally would only stealth camp when there aren't other reasonable options. Note that I am not knocking what others do, but merely stating a preference. I have never needed to stealth camp when bike touring, but have when hiking or kayak/canoe camping.
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Old 02-29-08, 10:20 AM   #18
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RE: stealth camping. The parkway is regularly patroled by park service rangers. They don't allow camping in unauthorized areas, so you would be risking getting caught by rangers if you stealth camped. I don't know if they would penalize or fine you if caught, but I am certain they would make you move. There are plenty of legitimate areas to camp along the parkway, however, if you plan accordingly. If you are just trying to save money, then look for National Forest lands that are close to the parkway. I think you camp anywhere in national forests unless exlicitly prohibited.
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Old 02-29-08, 11:27 AM   #19
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Here's a link to a very detailed journal on CGOAB. This cyclist rode end to end starting in Viriginia. Lots of detailed information, probably a good supplement to the guidebook you have.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Parkway2007

I may get out there for a day or two myself in June, as part of a family vacation in eastern TN. I've never been to Grandfather Mountain or seen the Linnville Cove viaduct -- it would be fun to see it by bike first, rather than by car. And I'll ride it during the week, rather than on a weekend.

Ken
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Old 02-29-08, 05:19 PM   #20
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Stealth camping is usually feasible, you just have to think outside the box a little. Out of sight, out of mind. There are plenty of campgrounds along the way, running water, picnic tables, fire pits, are all nice, but be prepared for the RV next door.
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Old 02-29-08, 06:36 PM   #21
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Here's a link to a very detailed journal on CGOAB. This cyclist rode end to end starting in Viriginia. Lots of detailed information, probably a good supplement to the guidebook you have.

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Parkway2007

I may get out there for a day or two myself in June, as part of a family vacation in eastern TN. I've never been to Grandfather Mountain or seen the Linnville Cove viaduct -- it would be fun to see it by bike first, rather than by car. And I'll ride it during the week, rather than on a weekend.

Ken
If you park in Linville, take Roseborough road up rather than 221. Much less traffic.
Strongly suggest a BRP/221 combo route either as a loop or figure 8.
The 12 or so miles of 221 closest to Linville is phenomenal. Add the Viaduct & BRP and it's as good as it gets in NC.
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