The Blue Ridge Parkway ranges in elevation from 600 to 6,000 feet along its 469 miles of picturesque vistas through Virginia and North Carolina. Because it was designed as a scenic road for motorists, bicyclists must be aware of significant distances between developed areas, as well as Parkway amenities that are open only seasonally. Cyclists are encouraged to become familiar with Parkway resources and services before beginning their trip.
Blue Ridge Parkway Bicycling Regulations
- Bicycle riders must comply with all applicable state and federal motor vehicle regulations.
- Bicycles may be ridden only on paved road surfaces and parking areas. Bicycles, including mountain bikes, may not be ridden on trails or walkways.
- The bicycle operator must exhibit a white light or reflector visible at least 500 feet to the front and a red light or reflector visible at least 200 feet to the rear during periods of low visibility, between the hours of sunset and sunrise, or while traveling through a tunnel.
- Bicycles must be ridden single file except when passing or turning left and well to the right-hand side of the road.
- Bicycle speed must be reasonable for control with regard to traffic, weather, road and light conditions.
The following images shows the basic elevation profile of the entire Blue Ridge Parkway. It is a handy reference for planning your bicycling adventure.
This following elevation change table lists the major uphill sections of the Parkway in both the North- and Southbound travel directions. These figures do not include climbs on spur roads, in campgrounds, or picnic areas except where noted. For your convenience you may also download this as a PDF.
(Statistics courtesty of Tom DeVaughn of Troutville, Virginia).
Bicycling Safety Tips
- Always wear a bicycle helmet.
- Before beginning a ride, be sure your bicycle is in good operating conditions. Carry a spare tube and tools for minor repairs.
- Wear high visibility clothing. It sets you apart from the scenery and makes you more visible to motorists.
- Do not bicycle along the Parkway during periods of low visibility. Always check the weather conditions before setting out. Fog and rain may occur unpredictably. Reschedule trips for better weather or follow lower elevation routes until weather conditions improve.
- Exercise caution when riding through tunnels. Please be sure your bicycle is equipped with the proper lights or reflectors. There are 26 tunnels in North Carolina and one in Virginia.
- Temperatures vary greatly along the Parkway due to elevation changes. Wear clothing in layers if possible.
- Safe drinking water is available at all picnic areas, campgrounds, concession operations, and visitor centers. Water from streams or springs is unsafe for drinking unless you purify it.
- Make an honest evaluation of your abilities before beginning a bicycle trip on the Parkway. In some sections, you will climb as much as 1100 feet in 3.4 miles.
- When cycling in a group, adjust your spacing to allow motor vehicles to pass safely.
Blue Ridge Mountain Bicycling Guidebooks
Bicycling the Blue Ridge by Elizabeth and Charlie Skinner covers every inch of the 574-mile path between Front Royal, Virginia, and Cherokee, North Carolina. Written with racers, touring cyclists, and recreational cyclists in mind, this new edition continues as the definitive guide to a cyclist’s dream road, offering completely updated information on lodging, bike shops, campgrounds, and more.Book Details Buy Now
- Some Parkway campgrounds and services are located too far apart for convenient cycling.
- Camping is permitted only at established campgrounds. In some areas, US Forest Service, State Park, and private campgrounds are within easy distance of the Parkway. However, many operate on a seasonal basis.
- Food and lodging services are also available along and adjacent to the Parkway. Most operate seasonally.
- Carry a simple first aid kit when possible.
- Please contact a ranger before leaving a motor vehicle parked overnight on the Parkway.
Mountain biking on trails along the Blue Ridge Parkway is prohibited. However, adjacent National Forests provide a plethora of resources for mountain bikers. We recommend that you use the resources below to plan your next mountain biking adventure. If you are unsure about the designated use of a specific trail, you should contact the local Park Ranger’s office.