Editor’s Note: Those who choose to travel are strongly encouraged to check local government restrictions, rules, and safety measures related to COVID-19 and take personal comfort levels and health conditions into consideration before departure.
Stretching 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the country’s most scenic drives. Whether you aim to travel the entire parkway from milepost 0 near Waynesboro, Virginia, all the way to milepost 469 near Cherokee, North Carolina, or just plan to visit a small portion of the road dubbed “America’s Favorite Drive,” you’re bound to see some incredible Appalachian views. In fact, the Blue Ridge Parkway was the most-visited National Park Service (NPS) site in 2020, with over 14.1 million visitors — and once you see it for yourself, you’ll understand why.
The parkway makes for a stunning trip at any time of year: Drivers will pass by fresh blooms in the spring, lush greenery in the summer, and colorful foliage in the fall. And with a speed limit of 45 mph or less, it is designed for leisurely road trips and plenty of stops for hiking, picnicking, and camping. Navigating the parkway over a few days and spending the night along the way provides ample opportunities to bask in the area’s outstanding natural beauty, so we’ve rounded up some top tips and spots for Blue Ridge Parkway camping.
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Blue Ridge Parkway Camping Tips
The Blue Ridge Parkway is free to drive, and campsites have a fee of $20 per night. There are eight NPS campgrounds at various points along the parkway, and they’re open from May to late October (depending on weather). You can find tentative operating dates for the year on the NPS website. Reservations are available for these eight campgrounds during the main season, with only first-come, first-served availability in the last week. Julian Price Park Campground and Linville Falls Campground also have some first-come, first-served availability from April 2 through May 28. Since the parkway is so popular, we recommend making reservations online ahead of time at recreation.gov — campsites can be booked up to six months in advance. All the parkway campgrounds have potable water, flush toilets, sinks, and dump stations, and the campsites include fire rings and picnic tables.
Related: 10 Mistakes to Avoid on Your First Camping Trip, According to Experts
Blue Ridge Parkway Campgrounds
Otter Creek Campground
Located at milepost 60.8, this campground has 45 tent sites and 24 RV sites, plus it offers recreational activities like hiking and fishing, along with a visitor center. It’s located near the James River and several hiking trails, including the James River Canal, Otter Lake Loop, and Otter Creek trails.
Peaks of Otter Campground
At milepost 85.9, you’ll find one of the parkway’s larger campgrounds — Peaks of Otter is home to 86 tent sites and 58 RV sites. According to recreation.gov, this campground almost always has sites available, as there are 79 first-come, first-served options that must be booked in person. The park also has a lake stocked with fish, hiking, and a nearby lodge and restaurant.
Rocky Knob Campground
Located at milepost 167.1, Rocky Knob features 81 tent sites and 28 RV sites. Like Peaks of Otter, Rocky Knob often has first-come, first-served campsites available, according to recreation.gov. It’s located in the Rocky Knob Recreation Area, which offers lots of outdoor activities, plus the nearby town of Floyd, Virginia, which boasts wineries, breweries, and shops selling local crafts.
Doughton Park Campground
Doughton Park, located at milepost 239.2, offers 110 tent sites and 25 RV sites, with 97 available on a first-come, first-served basis. The 7,000-acre Doughton Park has several trails for hikers to choose from, as well as historic cabins and stocked streams for trout fishing.
Related: 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Visiting a National Park
Julian Price Campground
The largest of the campsites on this list, Julian Price, located at milepost 297, has 119 tent sites and 78 RV sites. Visitors can rent a canoe and paddle around nearby Price Lake, hike to waterfalls, and more. Plus, this campground has showers available.
Linville Falls Campground
Located at milepost 316.4, Linville Falls Campground has 50 tent sites and 20 RV sites. There’s plenty of hiking (for varying skill levels) at the beautiful Linville Gorge, as well as a 45-foot waterfall worth checking out.
Crabtree Falls Campground
Recreation.gov calls this the “hidden gem of Blue Ridge Parkway campgrounds.” Crabtree Falls, located at milepost 339.5, has 70 tent sites and 22 RV sites. The Crabtree Falls Trail, a three-mile loop leading to a 70-foot waterfall, is accessible from the campground.
Mount Pisgah Campground
The southernmost parkway campground, Mount Pisgah is located at milepost 408.8 and has 64 tent sites and 62 RV sites. This is one of the parkway’s most popular campgrounds, so book ahead — it can fill up on the weekends. Bonus: It also comes with showers.