Rakes Mill Pond on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County

At some point next month, I will head my Harley north on U.S. 11 to Front Royal and then take Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park to the beginning of The Blue Ridge Parkway for a multi-day trip down the 469-mile length to the Great Smokey Mountains.

It’s a trip I’ve been meaning to take since returning to the area in 2004 and with the Parkway officially celebrating its 75th birthday next month the time is right.

The Parkway has always been an important part of Floyd County, which contains more miles of the road than any other county inVirginia.  Mabry Mill is among the most photographed spots in America and was once the backdrop for Salem television commercials and print ads.

The Parkway’s 75th Anniversary Festival is scheduled for Sept. 10-12 at the Blue Ridge Music Center near Galax and Cumberland Knob Recreation Area in North Carolina and features several events over the three-day weekend.

At 75, the Parkway is showing its age. The road is rough and pothole ridden at the northern end while patchy road repairs mark the route from Meadows of Dan to the North Carolina line. New pavement improves conditions from Roanoke to the top of Bent Mountain but funding cuts have reduced maintenance.

But the Parkway remains a national treasure and one that feeds the growing tourism economy of Floyd County and other areas.

It you haven’t taken a ride on the Parkway lately, do so. It’s worth the trip.

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