Watching the Sun Rise or Set Over the Mountains
It's pretty spectacular from Waterrock Knob, which sits at almost 6,000 feet ... or any of the more than 100 hiking trails that lead through the Smokies and Shenandoah State Park to summits overlooking the land. With over 100 miles winding through the Appalachian Trail, some leg stretchers and some more hard-core excursions, views of the sun rising or setting, can be the best part of your jaunt.
Autumn is by far the most colorful season on the Parkway. Come October, the landscape looks like it's on fire (leaves change color at higher elevations first) and makes for amazing, quintessential fall scenery.
This reason should probably fall under "Americana" but this American roots music is so unique to the area—and awesome—that it's worth noting separately. It's not just about old-time fiddlin', though—incredible and eclectic talents pass through the romantic, outdoor amphitheater, the Blue Ridge Music Center (at Milepost 213 on the BRP), regularly. So grab a blanket or camping chair, sit on the grass one evening, and enjoy as fireflies and that "high lonesome sound" fill the air.
Testing Your Driving Skills
Though Givens insists that you'd be hard pressed to find so much as a traffic jam on the parkway that dons not a single ad or billboard in its entirety (try not to travel on Sundays, though), he does warn that travelers should "enjoy the view but watch the road." Because the Blue Ridge Parkway was always intended to lie embedded in the natural landscape, its shoulders flush right up against trees, curves and cliffs.