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The Picnic Guide of Virginia
Blue Ridge Parkway National Park
Map 3


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Blue Ridge Parkway National Park - Map 2 copyright map by Alan Eastep

For more than 8,000 years, people have traveled through the area searching for both their livelihood and recreation. 


American Indians passed through the area while hunting, and the earliest European settlers began arriving in the mid-1700's. By 1834 the first inn had opened, and by the turn of the century the Peaks of Otter had become a popular tourist destination.

Today the Peaks of Otter is still a major developed area on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The motor road follows the crest of the ridge into the Peaks area.  In the valley formed by Sharp Top, Flat Top and Harkening Hill, there is a lodge and restaurant, visitor center, campground, picnic area and historic farm.  

The mountains all have trails ranging from less than a mile to more than four miles, and there is nearby access to the Appalachian Trail. 

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Detail Maps and Information

In addition, the area is surrounded by the Jefferson National Forest, which only adds to its appeal as a destination for Parkway visitors.

The Johnson Farm and Polly Wood's Ordinary represent two historic periods at the Peaks. Polly Wood's cabin served as the first lodging for travelers through the area starting in the early 1830's. The Johnson Farm sheltered three generations of the Johnson family, and today it is a living history farm during the summer where you can play games, help work the garden, or just sit on the porch and relax in a rocking chair.

The Natural Bridge

Thomas Jefferson owned it; George Washington surveyed it. Discover breathtaking nature and fascinating history: Natural Bridge (One of 7 Natural Wonders of the World) and Nature Park, the Cedar Trail, Monacan Indian Living History Village, Caverns; Wax Museum, Toy Museum, Haunted Monster Museum. On-site hotel, including rooms & suites, meeting rooms, dining room, creekside cafe, pool, tennis, gift shop, and more. 15 minutes off the Parkway; 5 minutes off I-81, exits 175, 180. (540) 291-2121 (800) 533-1410.

Milepost 76.5: High Point on the Parkway in Virginia.

Apple Orchard Mountain. (E1. 4,229.) Alt. 3,950

Milepost 83.4: Fallingwater Cascades National Scenic Trail.

Divided into two sections or may be hiked as one continuous loop. Fallingwater Cascades section is a 1.5 mile loop of moderate hiking. Flat Top section is more strenuous, 2.5 miles to summit and 4.4 mi. to Peaks Picnic Area on VA43.

Milepost 86: Peaks of Otter

Phone: (540) 586 4357

This campground is near the Peaks of Otter Lodge, Abbott Lake, the restored 1930s Johnson Farm, and a magnificent trail system.

Peaks of Otter Lodge

Phone: (540) 586 1081

The Peaks of Otter Lodge is located twenty miles north of Roanoke, VA on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 86. It is the only year-round lodging on the Parkway. Lodging, dining, trails, fishing and seasonal interpretive programs at the park amphitheatre. The web site is

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