When the Blue Ridge Parkway opens each spring, several thousand visitors come to climb the Appalachian Mountains. In winter, waterfalls freeze pathways down the mountainsides and ice climbing is popular. Climbing of any kind requires special gear and mastery of basic safety skills, so it is recommended that new climbers hire experienced climbing guides.
Never forget that the environmental impact of rock climbers can be profound. Delicate mountain flora, use of use of permanent protection, and physical hazards to other visitors have resulted in some location along the Parkway being closed to climbing. For the sake of the park and sport, climb wisely!
Places to Rock Climb along the Blue Ridge Parkway
The original Cherokee name of the river that carved out Linville Gorge was “Eeseeoh,” which translates to “a river of many cliffs.” The river now runs over 2,000 feet below the rim of the gorge, and as it rises the Gorge offers breathtaking views and numerous climbing and rappelling opportunities. Table Rock, on the upper eastern ridge of the Gorge, is one of many popular climbs.
Wilson Creek Recreation Area
Wilson Creek flows through some of the oldest rocks in the Appalachians as it travels from Grandfather Mountain and into Johns River. Climbing here is open and exposed, with panoramic views of surrounding mountains, including Grandfather and Grandmother Mountains.
Beginner rock climbers will find good learning opportunities at the Grandmother Boulders. There is a trail directly off the Parkway, 1/4 mile south of Grandfather Mountain Overlook. The first climbing area is about 100 yards into the woods.
The trail to Ship Rock is 1/3 mile south of Rough Ridge Overlook, directly on the Parkway. It has routes at all grades, and it is shady enough to make it ideal for climbing in warmer months.
Looking Glass Rock
Looking Glass Rock is not located directly on the Parkway, but its unique rock face can be seen from many overlook on the Parkway’s southern end. It is located in Brevard, NC and has a huge range of climbing opportunities, most of which are best in fall and winter months.
Directly off of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia at milepost 11. There is a group of cliffs and boulders below Raven’s Roost Overlook.
Places to Ice Climb along the Blue Ridge Parkway
During the winter months, several ice flows develop on road cuts, providing excellent ice climbing when the Parkway is closed to vehicles.
Located at milepost 240 on the Parkway, the numerous falls and seeps at Doughton Park form consistent ice throughout the winter. This area is ideal for beginners, and it offers easily accessible top roping opportunities.
Climbing or rappelling from any building, bridge, or other man-made structure is prohibited.
Rock or ice climbing is not permitted on or adjacent to the motor road unless the road has been temporarily closed to vehicle traffic.
Climbing activity along the Tanawha Trail adjacent to the Stack Rock Creek bridge is prohibited.
Rock climbing is prohibited within 100 feet of the Sharp Top Trail on Sharp Top Mountains.