Winters in the Blue Ridge Mountains can be cold and harsh, especially at higher elevations. There is regular snow and ice, and weather conditions can change rapidly and unexpectedly, so be prepared for cold temperatures and always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back.
For all the difficulties that can come with the cold weather, traveling the Blue Ridge Parkway during winter months is an extremely rewarding experience. When the leaves have fallen from the trees, long-range views that are hidden in warmer seasons become visible, and the rolling shapes of surrounding ridgelines can be made out from most locations. The rhododendron bushes that carpet the mountainsides stay green throughout the winter, and waterfalls and rivulets freeze into dramatic icicles.
Winter Access to the Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway remains open most of the winter for vehicles, except when snow or ice create hazardous driving conditions. These sections will be gated off, blocking vehicles at the entrances, but Parkway visitors are still welcome to walk, hike, snowshoe, or cross-country ski.
The Parkway facilities that stay open year-round are the Peaks of Otter Lodge and restaurant at Milepost 86, Museum of North Carolina Minerals at Milepost 331, and Folk Art Center at Milepost 382. Other Parkway facilities open on a staggered schedule beginning in mid-March. For opening dates of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s facilities, view our Operating Schedule page.