Best of the Blue Ridge Parkway Book Review

Best of the Blue Ridge Parkway Book Cover Best of the Blue Ridge Parkway
Nye Simmons
Mountain Trail Press

Filled with detailed information on the best hikes, scenic stops, waterfalls, and historic locations, this is the ultimate guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina and Virginia, one of America's most visited national parks. Information on lodging, way stations, side trips, hiking trails, and attractions of interest is included—ideal for the time-pressed traveler who wants to hit the high points of the park. Full-color photographs, photographer's notes, and photo tips complement the detailed descriptions of the park's attractions, making this handbook both a travel guide and a compilation to treasure.


  • Paperback book
  • Locations tied to mile marker making locations easy to find
  • Great photos of the areas discussed
  • Includes maps marking locations to visit
  • Brief Photo Notes


  • Book doesn’t hold up as well as I hoped (I tend to be hard on my books)
  • Could have more discussion on locations to photograph
  • There could be more comprehensive photo notes, the ones provided are in some cases too brief to be of good use to the photographer


There are a lot of books you can find on the Blue Ridge Parkway. For those who may not know, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a roadway that links two National Parks, the Shenandoah National Park on the north end to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the south end.

Between the two National Parks is 469 miles of some of the most beautiful landscape that the east coast of the United States has to offer, everything from steep mountain roadway to idyllic pastoral scenes. Of all the books I looked at to purchase a good handy guide to use for trip planning and the occasional “I have time to visit one more location” this book has you covered!

Broken out into sections, of about 20-40 miles for each section, the sections begin with a map and a list of points of interest as well as a list of places to stay and eat and any nearby hospitals.

In the discussions of each point of interest, there are nice photographs of each location, giving the photographer a sense of the place to help her decide if this is a location she might like to stop and explore. Each location in the book is tied to mileage markers (the Parkway has mile markers), both the parkway and the book are in sync, allowing you to easily find the next place to pull over and take out your camera.

Even though the book is not specifically geared towards photographers, there is the occasional ‘Photo Notes’ that provides some tips to help you get that shot. These photo notes are not very complete, or as complete as I would have liked to see, they at least give you some idea as to the best time of day or time of year to visit the location highlighted by the note.

Also of great interest is the occasional “Off Parkway” within certain sections highlighting areas of interest that are just off the parkway and easily accessible.  In the section on “The First 30 Miles,” for instance, the “Off Parkway” section has directions and brief discussion on Crabtree Falls and St. Mary’s Falls.  Both of these excellent sites, while not directly on the Parkway itself, are integral to the area of the Parkway, and so are included. 

This guide is well written, and has some nice photography to illustrate the scenes one can capture.  The maps are very helpful, and the accompanying photographs help you to visualize the location.  

The Blue Ridge Parkway offers a lot of photographic opportunities. But not all are landscape orientated, as there are number of locations with rustic homesteads of the 18th and 19th centuries. This book does a good job of describing these locations and pointing out some photographic opportunities afforded by these sites. The discussions of history of the area permeate the descriptions of these old homestead sites which help you get a feel for the location and it’s place in time which I greatly appreciated.

I used this book so much that mine became tattered and torn, thus forcing me to purchase a second copy. It is well worth the money (around $24 at the time of this review).


In summary, this is an excellent book to find locations to photograph along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Including both the Virginia and the North Carolina sections, this book was my go to book for exploring the parkway. It had a happy home in my driver’s side pocket where it became well worn and torn from constant use.

I believe that you will be pleased with this book!

Click here to purchase this book on Amazon!

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