Blue Ridge Parkway....Info about the climbs
I am planning a trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway for mid-May. Does anyone have any experience touring this route?
Want to know about the climbs and what is the gradient. Also, the campgrounds...cost, when they open, or whether its possible to camp anywhere on this route.
I rode it from start to finish in the fall of 2003 (part of a longer tour from Montreal to Mexico)... There's an excellent book on cycling the Blue Ridge Parkway on sale at the tourist centers on the Blue Ridge... If you don't want to buy the book, the Blue Ridge centers can give you a photocopy of a sheet with all the climbs... From start to finish, if you make all of the climbs you will have risen twice the height of the Everest... The ride is very doable and superb... (you can check my webpage under the section "USA"... You can camp anywhere in the park (not sure if legal though) and there are Park maintained campgrounds (cold water only... US$12/night) at convenient distances throughout the Blue Ridge... Also around the middle of the Blue Ridge, there is a Youth Hostel (very nice place and managers) where you can spend a night, have a hot shower and do laundry... Access to towns along the route is pretty good though you have to come down from the Blue Ridge (and will have to ride back up to the Blue Ridge.... )...
Go for it... it's worth it ! Any specific questions, PM me and I'll try to answer....
it sounds awesome....its a ride i have always wanted to do.
do you have an idea of the gradient of the climbs. I want to know what kind of gearing i will need.
Kelly Drive Amateur
Wow, I remember driving through the Blue Ridge as a kid. This sounds pretty good - since I'm an East-Coaster I might have to make this my first long ride.
The grades are all very doable (doesn't mean I didn't huff & puff and sweat)...
It depends on your direction... the worst climb is on the north to south direction near a third into the Blue Ridge where you climb about 250 feet in abour half a mile... all the other climbs are of a lesser grade... I was riding a fully loaded touring bike with a 52-39-30 crankset and 11-27 cassette and had no problems on any of the climbs....
You can also check out the mile by mile info at http://www.nukefix.org/parkway/#primary for more details on every climb in both directions...
You need a new bike
You cannot camp wherever you like along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I recall reading Ken Kifer's comments on how the rangers were pretty aggressive about enforcing the camping prohibition along the route. Apparently pretty stiff fines for violations.
From the National Park Service website http://www.nps.gov/blri/:
Camping - Camping is allowed only at designated sites and generally, the nine Parkway campgrounds are open from May - October at a fee of $14 per night. All campgrounds offer sanitary dump stations, ranger programs and access to hiking trails. Each loop has a common comfort station with running water. Limited back-country camping is available at Basin Cove in Doughton Park (336/372-8568) and Rock Castle Gorge in Rocky Knob (540/745-9660). Permits must be requested in advance. Check with a Park Ranger to learn about access to neighboring US Forest Service back-country areas along the Parkway. Beginning in 2004, reservations can be made at Linville Falls and Price Park campgrounds on line at reserveUSA.com or by calling 1-877-444 6777
We found the climbs on the Blue Ridge to be all right. The times we got into trouble was when we dropped off the parkway to get supplies. The gradients to get back onto the parkway were a real grunt!