Stay with Bluegreen Resorts in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and pick from one of three comfortable, luxurious, home-away-from-home vacation destinations: MountainLoft in Gatlinburg, Tennessee; Laurel Crest in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; and Foxrun Townhouses in Lake Lure, North Carolina. All three resorts provide you with a gateway to the many outdoor adventures the area has to offer, including those along the famed Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most picturesque routes in the country.
Construction on the Parkway, the nation’s first-ever rural roadway of its kind, began during the Great Depression as a way to link Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. When you drive the Blue Ridge Parkway, you’re traveling a stretch of a 469-mile piece of history. Along the way, you can visit sites honoring Native American Cherokee traditions, local artisans’ studios, music festivals, and, of course, sites of spectacular natural beauty. The entire stretch of the Parkway includes hundreds of scenic overlooks, with sights of mountains and gorges, vast forests, brilliant foliage in the fall, and flowering rhododendrons in the spring. Besides the two national parks that anchor either end of the Parkway, here are a few of the other attractions you can enjoy along its length:
- Cherokee, North Carolina – The town of Cherokee lies at the final southern milepost of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and is therefore close to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. When you stop in Cherokee, you can browse a number of shops selling authentic Native American arts and crafts, including fine artwork by Cherokee artists, pottery, basketry, weavings, dolls, pipes, and much more.
If gaming is your pastime, you’ll find local dealers, as well as the amenities at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. If you love outdoor fun, try kayaking, tubing, and other watersports in Oconaluftee Islands Park. And if you visit during the summer, you can take in the rich drama of Unto These Hills, an outdoor play that tells the story of the tragedy and triumph of the Cherokee experience.
- The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad – Located in Bryson City, near Cherokee, the terminal of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad will be your gateway to a trip back in time as you ride in style in a vintage railway car from the 1940s. The railroad winds through some of western North Carolina’s more remote regions, taking you on a breathtaking tour of valleys, rivers, 25 bridges, and tunnels cut from the mountainsides. Much of the natural beauty of this area comes from its ancient past, when the movements of volcanoes and glaciers formed its peaks and valleys. Your ticket includes a fine dining experience, and you can choose from a 44-mile tour through Nantahala Gorge, with a stop at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, or the 32-mile round trip Tuckasegee River Excursion.
- The Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina – The city of Asheville is less than 30 miles from Lake Lure by car, and is a major marker along the Parkway. Stop and tour the magnificent Biltmore House, whose gardens were designed by famous 19th century architect Frederick Law Olmstead, who also planned the landscape of New York’s Central Park. The rose gardens alone are worth a visit, offering some 250 varieties of blooms. The house itself, home to a branch of the Vanderbilt family, contains soaring ceilings, paintings by European masters, a library with more than 10,000 volumes, tapestries, and other features that defined a lifestyle of elegance and luxury at the turn of the 20th century.
- Chimney Rock – Located in the Hickory Nut Gorge, Chimney Rock State Park is minutes from Lake Lure and includes some of North Carolina’s most stunning landscapes. Hickory Nut Falls is one of the tallest and most spectacular waterfalls in the eastern United States and featured prominently in the 1992 film The Last of the Mohicans. And when you ascend Chimney Rock’s 1,200-foot height, you’ll be able to see to a distance of about 75 miles across the Blue Ridge Mountains and Lake Lure. Go rock-climbing or hiking in the park, or stroll along the Great Woodland Adventure Trail, which offers children and families a dozen learning and discovery stations.
- Grandfather Mountain – About 150 miles from Gatlinburg, Grandfather Mountain offers iconic views of North Carolina’s landscapes. The mountain’s variety of wildlife includes songbirds, squirrels, black bears, deer, bald eagles, and more. Grandfather Mountain’s naturalists protect many of these animals—as well as cougars, which no longer roam wild in the area—within seven environmental habitats. These large enclosures are designed to resemble as closely as possible the animals’ natural territories in the wild. Visitors can also take in a 360-degree panoramic view from a mile above sea level on Grandfather Mountain’s Mile High Swinging Bridge.