Travel Diary: The Blue Ridge Parkway & Graveyard Fields
I’ve had my sight set on The Blue Ridge Parkway all year! I was so surprised to learn that it is one of the most visited National Park Service sites. Driving the parkway is actually a slow and long process. It would take you 3-7 days to drive the entire parkway!
Famous for being gorgeous in the fall, I waited anxiously for months for the fall colors to appear. I had planned to visit Cumberland Falls State Park and some other places in Kentucky around the middle of October. So I decided to take a detour on our way north in order to see parkway!
After a million and one potty breaks for my three year old, we headed towards the parkway! We drove on the North Carolina part of The Blue Ridge Parkway for a couple of hours, driving through SO MANY tunnels. There are 26 in total on The Blue Ridge Parkway and only one of those is on Virginia part of the parkway.
If you are traveling with toddlers like I am, the tunnels are a huge source of entertainment! We counted the tunnels as we went and they were excited for each one we went through. Usually, on long car ride, the kids get bored or whine a lot, ask to get out, etc. Driving The Blue Ridge Parkway is different, not only because of the tunnels, but my girls love driving through the mountains. They giggle and talk about how it looks like we are driving through tree tunnels or how they wander if there are any bears, etc.
Definitely a sanity saver.
There are over 250 places to pull off and park to enjoy the views that the Blue Ridge Mountains offer. I stopped at around 10 places to look at the mountains and take some video. (video of our drive and graveyard fields at the bottom of this post)
I knew I wanted to stop somewhere along the parkway to rest our legs and do a little hiking. There are over 100 trails off of The Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia combined. Since I was traveling with a 2 year old and a 3 year old, the hiking trail I choose had to be fairly short and easy. Even more importantly, a trail with bathrooms was a must. Turns out, not many of the trail heads I was interested in had bathrooms, so I decided on Graveyard Falls–which turned out to be an amazing choice.
Driving along the parkway and looking out at the mountains, you couldn’t actually see that many fall colors. It still, on October 16th, looked overwhelmingly green. I was so disappointed because I really thought I had waited long enough for the colors to really start flourishing. Thankfully, the colors changed when we stopped at Graveyard Falls. I have no idea how the falls got that name by the way, so if you do leave me a comment! haha
The Graveyard Fields hike is a 3.5 mile loop trail at milepost 418.8 which is south of Asheville. You can see two water falls and gorgeous views along this hike. From the parking lot, it’s a short third of a mile hike to the lower falls. It’s a paved path, beautifully lined by trees and fallen autumn leaves. Sorta fairytale like even!
The falls were beautiful. The red, yellow, and orange leaves of the trees raised around the water and it was seriously breathtaking. I wasn’t sure if the girls could handle the full three and half mile loop, so we just enjoyed the lower falls.
We listened to the relaxing sound of the water flowing over the rock, the girls climbed around and threw leaves and acorns in the water. Having two toddlers challenges me every day, but one of the best things about them being at this age is that it doesn’t take much to keep them entertained.
I really love to sit in nature, focus on the air on my skin and the sounds around me. It helps with my anxiety and it just feels like a life reboot which I’m finding myself needing more and more of lately. Graveyard falls was the perfect place for a reboot!
If you are traveling with toddlers or young kids, I definitely recommend stopping at the falls. It’s a short and easy hike for small children to the lower falls and a longer, but easy hike to finish the whole Graveyard Falls Loop for those traveling with older children or those who could handle a 3.5 mile hike. Plus they can play around the water and climb the rocks in the area, or wade in the water during the warmer months.
I’ve recently but my GoPro to good use and started videoing on our travels. I know that sometimes video can show you want you really want to see when other media cannot. This video of our trip through The Blue Ridge Mountains and our stop at Graveyard Falls shows what it’s really like in the mountains in mid October, what to expect along the parkway, and what it’s really like traveling with toddlers. [Skip to minute 4:08 for Graveyard Fields.] Enjoy!
If you have any questions about visiting Graveyard Falls or driving Blue Ridge Parkway just leave them in the comments. I’d be happy to hear from you!
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