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Wiser Living

Finding a natural solution

Green Travel: Fall Foliage on the Blue Ridge Parkway

by Susan Melgren, Web Editor

Tags: green travel, green vacation,

With the exception of winter, I get excited for each of the four seasons. Each fall I look forward to crisp weather, warm colors and brilliant foliage. In Lawrence, Kansas, where I live, beautiful foliage is at a premium. We have an abundance of trees that turn beautiful shades of deep red and vibrant orange (and that distract me while I’m driving).

Although I’m satisfied with the trees in Lawrence, I know that the best place to go for fall foliage is New England. One great place to visit in fall is the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 500-mile span of highway that stretches across the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Virginia. The landscape around the parkway reaches its crescendo in October, making this month peak visitors’ month for the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Blue Ridge Parkway 1
Enjoy beautiful fall foliage along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo By ncbrian/Courtesy Flickr. 

Don’t be fooled by the term “parkway.” The Blue Ridge Parkway isn’t just a road, a way to get from point A to point B or something to breeze through. Nevermind the fact the speed limit tops out at 45 mph (in some places 25 mph), the Blue Ridge Parkway is an experience—and one to savor this time of year.

For outdoor enthusiasts, the parkway offers bird watching, fishing and many hiking and biking trails. History buffs will find a variety of attractions to appease them along the way. From early European homesteads to the Cherokee Indian Reservation the highway meanders through, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers a host of educational and cultural opportunities.

If you’re looking for a green attraction along the parkway, check out the Blue Ridge Parkway Destination & Visitor Center. Constructed to LEED standards, the visitor center boasts green features such as radiant floor heating and a green roof. The center also features interactive exhibits and touch-screen computers where visitors can learn about the history of the parkway as well as its natural and cultural resources.

Blue Ridge Parkway 2
A blackberry plant along the Blue Ridge Parkway, between Buena Vista and Montebello, Virginia. Photo By Martin LaBar/Courtesy Flickr. 

Green lodging is a must when enjoying the natural beauty of the parkway. Camping is an eco-friendly option for those willing, but if you’re not into “roughing it,” get into the New England spirit with a green bed and breakfast.

Belle Hearth Bed and Breakfast (North end)

The Belle Hearth Bed and Breakfast is located in the historic district of Waynesboro, Virginia, on the north end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Part of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Green Lodging program, it features low-flow toilets, compact fluorescent lighting and a recycling program.

Miracle Farm Bed and Breakfast (middle)

Miracle Farm Bed and Breakfast is a little off the beaten path along the middle of the parkway. Located near Floyd, Virginia, this little bed and breakfast was built from recycled building materials and other materials found on the land. Miracle Farm serves only fresh, organic food grown on-site. Meat is never on the menu, so vegetarians should feel welcome here. The bed and breakfast shares its 25 acres with Miracle Farm, a nonprofit Sustainable Living Center and Animal Sanctuary. Miracle Farm features on-site fishing, bird watching and hiking/walking paths.

Asheville Green Cottage (Southern end)

The Asheville Green Cottage is located at the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Ashville, North Carolina. This bed and breakfast features natural latex mattresses with organic wool toppers, organic cotton sheets and towelsbamboo floors, chlorine filters in the showers and organic food, coffee and teas. The bed and breakfast markets itself as both PVC-free and carbon neutral.