With the Linn Cove Viaduct closing for maintenance from March through May, many Blue Ridge Parkway travelers are wondering how they’ll get to Grandfather Mountain.
Fortunately, options abound.
“In the High Country, practically every route is the scenic route,” said Frank Ruggiero, director of marketing and communications for the Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation, the nonprofit organization that oversees the Linville, N.C., nature preserve and attraction. “It’s hard to beat the viaduct, but there are some other gorgeous drives that showcase the scenery, as well as our beautiful mountain communities.”
The viaduct is expected to close from March 1 to May 24, as it undergoes surface repaving and bridge maintenance — the first time since its initial construction more than three decades ago.
According to a Blue Ridge Parkway news release, crews will remove and replace the asphalt pavement, waterproofing membrane and joints on the bridge, in addition to repairing the supporting structure, stone curb, railing and drainage features. During this time, all access to the viaduct, including the trail areas beneath it, will be closed to the public.
As such, Parkway travelers will notice closure gates at Milepost 303.6 (Wilson Creek Overlook) on the north end and Milepost 305.1 (U.S. 221) on the south end.
Those heading northbound to Grandfather Mountain should not be affected by the viaduct closure. Those heading southbound, however, have some options. Parkway motorists can take the Holloway Mountain Road exit (Milepost 298.6), where they’ll turn left and proceed to U.S. 221, where they’ll turn right and follow for 11 miles to Grandfather Mountain. U.S. 221 is also accessible from Blowing Rock.
“While scenic, this portion of U.S. 221 is the epitome of mountain roads — as scenic as it is winding, which is to say very,” Ruggiero said. “So, we encourage folks to take it slow and exercise caution.”
Motorists looking for a more straightforward path can take N.C. 105 South from Boone toward to U.S. 221 in Linville (approximately 19 miles), where they’ll turn left and drive two miles to reach Grandfather.
Those seeking additional travel information are encouraged to call the High Country Host Regional Visitor Center at (800) 438-7500, or stop by its new location at 6370 U.S. 321 in Blowing Rock.
The construction of the Linn Cove Viaduct was championed by Grandfather Mountain’s founder, the late Hugh Morton. When most of the Parkway was completed in 1968, the only missing link was a seven-mile section around Grandfather Mountain. Rather than build the road over and through the mountain, Morton successfully fought for an alternative — have the Parkway wrap around Grandfather instead.
“Although we’re disappointed that our guests won’t be able to experience one of the country’s most beautiful drives during this time, the views from the top of Grandfather Mountain are simply spectacular and will hopefully make up for the inconvenience,” Ruggiero said. “Plus, we’ve got a pretty well-known bridge of our own.”
The not-for-profit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call (800) 468-7325.