Described as “America’s Favorite Drive,” the Blue Ridge Parkway is an unforgettable experience in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
The 469-mile route makes its way through the heart of the region, connecting the Shenandoah National Park of Virginia with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. In Virginia’s Blue Ridge, we feature eight convenient access points to this scenic road.
A drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway allows you the opportunity to relax, reconnect with nature, and take in the stunning beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. One of the best ways to do that is to take time to stop and enjoy many of the scenic overlooks as you make your way through Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
During your next road trip in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, here are seven of the iconic Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks to include on your drive.
1. Purgatory Mountain Overlook - Milepost 92.1
This viewing area offers a gorgeous view of Purgatory Mountain in Botetourt County and the nearby Town of Buchanan at the base of the mountain. You also catch a glimpse of the beautiful waters of the James River.
2. Pine Tree Overlook - Milepost 95.2
At an elevation of 2,490 feet and known for the distinct pine tree adjacent to the road, the Pine Tree Overlook (pictured at the top of this post) features a panoramic view of the nearby valley and farmlands, as well as the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountain range. This is a great spot for a view of the mountains that make up the Peaks of Otter.
3. Roanoke River Gorge - Milepost 114.9
Unlike the other scenic overlooks on this list, this view requires parking at the Roanoke River Overlook parking lot and making the short walk over to the bridge that spans the gorge. The view from the bridge looks down over 900 feet into the heart of the gorge as you watch the water flow away from the Niagara Dam.
If you’re lucky, you might see paddlers making their way down the river.
4. Mill Mountain Overlook - Milepost 120
Any trip to Virginia’s Blue Ridge has to include a visit to the famous Mill Mountain Overlook. Not only do you get an incredible view of the Downtown Roanoke skyline and surrounding valley, you also get to stand at the base of the Roanoke Star, the world’s largest manmade free-standing star! This area is also home to the Mill Mountain Discovery Center and Mill Mountain Zoo.
5. Roanoke Mountain Overlook - Milepost 120.3
For many locals, the Roanoke Mountain Overlook is considered to be a hidden gem of scenic beauty in the area. The 4-mile loop road off the Blue Ridge Parkway features two great scenic overlooks near the summit of the mountain, one facing eastward while the other points west. Depending on your timing, it’s an excellent spot to catch a view of the sunrise or sunset.
6. Cahas Mountain Overlook - Milepost 139
As you make the climb out of the Roanoke Valley into the higher elevations of the southern portion of the region, the Cahas Mountain Overlook provides an outstanding view. Take in the sight of Cahas Mountain, which stands tall in Virginia’s Blue Ridge with a summit of just over 3,550 feet.
7. Rocky Knob Recreation Area - Milepost 167
With numerous trails for hiking and horseback riding, campgrounds, and a visitor center, the Rocky Knob Recreation Area is a great place to spend a Blue Ridge Day. There are multiple spots for a scenic view, but two of our favorites are the Grassy Knoll and the Saddle Overlook. Both offer amazing views of mountains on the horizon.
For more information on planning your next adventure, check out our complete section on the Blue Ridge Parkway and list of other scenic drives. And don’t forget to share your scenic pictures with us by using our #BlueRidgeDay hashtag!