You know those little, but important details that only the locals seem to know about? Well I’m definitely not a fan of gatekeeping those details. In this section, I’m going to give a breakdown of some important details about the Blue Ridge Parkway so that you’re fully prepared for your Blue Ridge Parkway elopement.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a road connecting Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. It is owned by the National Park Service to protect and preserve the land and wildlife. The parkway provides a myriad of mountain views and outdoor experiences including hikes, overlooks, campgrounds, and parks.
One of my favorite things about the Blue Ridge Parkway is the variety of experiences it provides. From overlooks to backcountry camping, there is something for everyone. Overlooks are spots that you can pull off of the road, park and admire the view from your car. There are also day hikes and backpacking trails for those who enjoy hiking or camping. You can also camp, picnic, or spend the day at one of the many state parks located off of the parkway. The parkway has a spot for every eloping couple and provides endless possibilities for activities on your elopement day!
I am most familiar with the North Carolina stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway, from Boone to Asheville. You can have your ceremony at most spots by acquiring a permit. Permits are not issued at certain spots for ceremonies due to the popularity or limited capacity of the trail. Some smaller overlooks are limited to less than 25 guests, but the general rule for the parkway is 25 guests maximum. You can find the list of off-limits and limited capacity spots here. You will only need to acquire a permit for your ceremony, so anywhere on the parkway is available for portraits!
The Blue Ridge Parkway begins in VA at Milepost 0 and ends in NC at Milepost 469. There are milepost markers at every mile along the road that you can use to track distance or find your destination. Because cell service isn’t always available on the parkway, mileposts are the most reliable form of directions. The milepost number for each location on the parkway can be found online.
Apple maps? Google maps? Which one is the most reliable? Getting directions through apple or google maps usually isn’t the most accurate, so I recommend one of these two options:
The Blue Ridge Parkway has many gates they they use to block off sections of the road when there is a possibility of ice or construction. The status of the gates is updated every morning at 5:00am on the NPS website. The closures are separated by mileposts, so check the milepost of the trail you are wanting to visit and then look at the corresponding milepost range on the website to see if the trailhead will be accessible by car. If the gates are closed, you can still park at the gate and walk up the road to the trailhead (you can use the mileposts to determine how far the walk would be). From November-early March, it’s safe to assume that many gates will be closed due to the cold and the possibility of ice on the roads. It usually starts getting warm enough for the gates to open back up in late March, but you’ll want to keep an eye on the closures all throughout the year in case of construction as well. Click here to view the road closure website.
This may sound crazy to some, but I’m always stressed about parking when I travel. I’m the type of person that will leave an hour early just to make sure I have time to find parking. If you’re like me, you’ve probably wondered what parking is like on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Because the last thing you want to worry about is missing the sunset because there was nowhere to park!! A lot of the trailheads on the parkway have parking lots, but not all of them do. The more popular areas like Craggy Gardens and Rough Ridge have parking lots. Some less popular trails will have space to park on level dirt on the side of the road. Overlooks will jet off of the parkway like a jug handle and usually have parking spaces.
On the Blue Ridge Parkway, it’s safe to assume that most trailheads won’t have restrooms. Instead, you’ll want to look for Visitor Centers, parks, or picnic areas for restrooms. Here is a list of Visitor Centers by milepost:
Each season has it’s pros and cons, here is a list of things to consider!
The Blue Ridge Parkway requires a Special Use permit for ceremonies. If you’re planning on using a trail solely for portraits, a permit is not required. If you plan to have your ceremony on the parkway, you can apply for a permit here. The general guest limit for the parkway is 25 guests (with the exception of a few spots that can’t accommodate that many people). Permits can be obtained at any point throughout the planning process, and they suggest applying at least 30 days before your elopement day to account for processing time. Permits are not issued for the month of October due to a drastic increase in visitors and tourists during peak foliage, so I’d suggest getting married in late September or early November if you want to use a trail on the parkway with fall foliage while also avoiding crowds.
As of March 2023, these are a few of the rules that apply to elopements. You can read the full list of rules and restrictions here.
You can obtain your marriage license at any Register of Deeds Office in North Carolina. It will be valid for 60 days, so you can get it anywhere from 2 months in advance to the day before your elopement. The state of North Carolina requires that an ordained officiant and 2 witnesses sign your marriage license on the day of your elopement. You will also need to know the county of your ceremony location when filling out your marriage license. Click here for a full blog post about marriage licenses, witnesses and officiants.
Links: Here are all of the links in this post, as well as additional links you may find helpful!
April 3, 2023