A day on the Blue Ridge Parkway

It’s always fun highlighting the amazing places to visit in your own backyard.  A few days ago I wrote about some of our favorite hikes.

Aunt Katie came for a visit from Chicago,  and with that blog post fresh in my mind, we decided to go explore the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a beautiful 469 miles that trips along the mountaintops between Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

You can hike, bike, swim, fish, camp, rock climb, and even golf.  There is nothing like taking the Harley out for a ride, on a beautiful fall day, and just taking in all that nature has to offer.

Our first stop was the Humpback Rocks Mountain Farm, where we learned all about mountain life in the 1890s.

The park rangers are wonderful.  We got to see the tools that folks used, including a wheelbarrow, rake and even a broom made from corn.

The 2 story cabin was not original to the land, however, it came from 45 miles south. I think that is pretty authentic. 

Rather than using stairs, the 2nd floor was accessed using a ladder to climb through a hole, up to the next level. My little guys weren’t too sure about that ladder.

After we thoroughly explored the cabin, it was time to learn about 19th century farming.  We saw a chicken coop, the spring house, a barn, and the veggie garden.

There is an abundance of wildlife on the parkway.  From deer to bears, with a watchful eye, many of God’s creatures may be spotted. On our walk we chased butterflies, spotted a slithering snake, and saw the usual suspects: squirrels & birds.

At the end of a gorgeous walk (only a half mile up and back), it was time for a rousing game of checkers on the front porch.

After we were done exploring and playing, we headed over to Swannanoa Palace.  

Built in 1912, this gorgeous 52 room, marble palace was built as a love letter by Major James Dooley to his wife Sally Mae.  Owner of Maymont in Richmond, one can see similarities amongst the two estates.

It is unfortunate that this beautiful tribute of love has fallen into a state of disrepair. You can see the original splendor of this grand estate and imagine what it was like in it’s heyday.  It is worth a visit.  

Swannanoa is open to the public for tours twice a month. And for those so inclined, google the ghost hunts.


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