Parkway drivers, prepare for busy roads and sparse parking

Photo: WLOS staff

Before Parkway drivers hit the road, they might want to pack some patience: they can expect busy roads, slower travel times, and sparse parking on what should be a beautiful October weekend during leaf season.

"Everybody's just trying to enjoy the Parkway," said Caitlin Worth, a Blue Ridge Parkway spokesperson. "So it's important to allow people to do that. If you want to take your time, pull over. If you want to take pictures, pull over. If you see wildlife, pull over. So that you can let people enjoy it at their own speed."

More than two million visitors drove on the Parkway last October, and according to the National Park Service, visitation has been even higher so far this year. There were more than 300 accidents along the parkway in 2016, with four fatalities.

With great weather expected through the weekend, drivers should expect big crowds.

"People should come expecting high traffic, especially in places that are traditionally busy anyway," Worth told News 13. "Craggy Gardens, Mount Pisgah area, Waterrock Knob will probably all be pretty busy this weekend."

If you can find parking on pavement, rangers say you can park almost anywhere with enough shoulder space as long as all four tires are off the road. The Graveyard Fields area is one of a few exceptions to that.

If you're looking to find fall color, rangers say color is still spotty but the best can be found between 3000 and 5000 feet.

"Some places you might see the fall colors the best on the roadway instead of at the overlook and so that can be kind of a challenge for photography’s sake, but you can usually find a spot to pull over and take a quick shot of the road itself," Worth said.

Some of the highest elevations, like the Craggy Gardens visitors center, have had water service shut off due to sub-freezing temperatures at night so, bring plenty of water with you just in case.

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