Friday, September 28, 2012

Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge

Candler, NC  (high 77, low 52)

We’ve had some wonderful days and seen some amazing things since we’ve been here in North Carolina, but I think yesterday may have been my favorite so far.

Most everything we have done has involved the Blue Ridge Parkway one way or the other.  It’s the center of all that’s beautiful in this area.

The Blue Ridge is a National Scenic Highway.  It runs 469 miles from Virginia through North Carolina.  There are no commercial vehicles allowed, so everyone there is just enjoying the scenery.  There are many marked hiking trails, numerous waterfalls and primitive campgrounds.  There  is a scenic overlook every time you turn around, so there are plenty of places to stretch your legs, or take photographs.  There are some visitor centers with gift shops, and bathrooms, but there are no  gas stations….at least not that we’ve seen.  

The parkway runs pretty much on top of the mountains and there are not a lot of roads to get you on or off it.  Travel is slow, so if you’re in a hurry, stay away.    Make sure you fill your gas tank.   A big Rv can use it, but for the life of me, I don’t know why you’d want to.   The roads are good, but they are extremely curvy and the elevation is either going up or down constantly.  You have to really watch the road to avoid falling off the side of a mountain.  We’ve seen very few rv’s and they have been fairly small ones.  We did see a big diesel pusher up at Mt. Mitchell, but I don’t know why because there is no campground there  except for tents.

Al has been wanting to go to Mt Mitchell, so yesterday was the day.  Mt. Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi, at 6684 feet.   I was a little nervous (of course).

Our campground is right off Highway 151, which is also known as Mt. Pisgah Highway.  It will lead us straight?? up the mountain to connect with the Blue Ridge Parkway.   That is quickest way to get to the parkway, but we won’t use it again.  We made the mistake of going up Highway 151 the first day we were here….in the truck,  not the motorhome, thank God.  There are signs warning you that trucks should not drive on this road.  It was the curviest and steepest road I’ve even been on.  Many parts were extremely narrow and two cars meeting would have to be real careful.  We have made a point of getting to the Blue Ridge via other roads.

So, yesterday, we took the long way, and got onto the Blue Ridge and headed to Craggy Gardens.  We didn’t know what to expect, but it was on the way to Mt. Mitchell, which was our main goal.

There was a nice little scenic over look with a visitor center with gift items, and restrooms.

If you looked up, you could see the road ahead leading right through the mountain.  See the tunnel?

top of Craggy Gardens overlook, tunnel

There was a beautiful scenic overlook, so we took some time and enjoyed the view and took pictures.


We looked up to this peak in the next picture, and noticed people walking around on the top of the hill.  It was a long way up from the parking lot where we were.  We thought they were daredevils and didn’t know how the heck they got all the way up there.


We finally got back into the truck and proceeded through the tunnel and up the mountain.

tunnel at  Craggy Gardens overlook

Once we got up the mountain a little we discovered how those people got all the way on the top of that mountain.  There was a nice little trail.

Craggy Gardens overlook

It sounded like an easy one, since it was only .7 of a mile…but we knew better.  We knew it would be straight up a mountain at 6000 feet!

Craggy Dome

It was a very pretty trail though and well worth the effort.

top of Craggy Gardens overlook

We started out going through a tunnel of Rhododendron's.  They will be in full bloom and gorgeous in May and June…and we hope to be here then.

Trail to Craggy Overlook, thru the Rhododendrom's


trail to Craggy Gardens overlook

It was a beautiful hike up.

trail to Craggy Gardens overlook

The view was spectacular and the fall color is really starting to appear.

Craggy Gardens overlook

6086  foot elevation at top of Craggy Gardens overlook

See the parking lot down below in the following picture?   That’s where we initially parked and looked up at the people on the top of the mountain.

We’re at 6086 feet elevation.

Craggy Gardens overlook


There was a pretty lake down below.

Craggy Gardens overlook

6086  foot elevation at top of Craggy Gardens overlook

The trip back down the trail was much easier.

trail to Craggy Gardens overlook

We loved Craggy Gardens, but our main goal was Mt. Mitchell.  I’ll cut this post short and do one on Mt. Mitchell tomorrow.  It was the most amazing place and we plan to go back before we leave.


  1. What a lovely walk you took us on.. and well worth the climb! It sure is getting pretty. I love FALL ... my favorite time of the year.

    Karen and Steveio
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

  2. Beautiful! Last year we were in the area in February and, believe it or not, we had gorgeous hiking weather for a week. Only problem was most of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Gatlinburg was closed because there was snow on parts of the road and Mt. Mitchel was closed. We did, however, hike to every available waterfall we could find.

    Must. Go. Back!

    Wonderful hike you took up Mt. Mitchel.

  3. Thank you for such an inspiring tour of this area. We will be there in a few weeks and just hope it's before the snow flies.

  4. Thank you for such an inspiring tour of this area. We will be there in a few weeks and just hope it's before the snow flies.

  5. It's great to see the changing is a beautiful part of the country.

  6. The leaves are changing earlier up where you were than here in the NE Georgia mountains. They are just faintly beginning to turn here. Not much at all yet! Continue to enjoy the area.

  7. You certainly are doing the grand tour of the area with all those hikes, and it is right at the beginning of the most colorful time of the year.

    Hope you get to some more of the fall colors. :c)

  8. Thanks for bringing back the memories we had of that beautiful place....We did a motorcycle trip the length of the BRP last year and thoroughly enjoyed every inch of it...only wish we had taken more time to really savor the entire trip.


  9. Wow! Great photos and we sure hope to get there coming or going from Florida some time!

  10. You just keep going to my favorite places up there. Craggy Gardens is truly amazing in the spring when they are in bloom. David and I decided to get married while we were there. It is a very special place for us. I hope you get to see it in the spring time some year.


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