Guide To The Blue Ridge Parkway – Favorite Things To See And Do In Virginia

August 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Camping Guides

The scenic Blue Ridge Parkway travels over 469 miles of mountain tops through North Carolina and Virginia. Along the way, there are plenty of panoramic overlooks, picnic areas, and several campgrounds to accommodate both trailers and tents. The Blue Ridge Parkway also offers more than one hundred hiking trails, as well as access to larger trail systems like the 2000 mile long Appalachian Trail and the 900 mile Mountain to Sea Trail in North Carolina.

Many of the short trails offer historical exhibits and live demonstrations of a forgotten life in the Appalachians. There are also many other attractions along the Blue Ridge Parkway that are fun for the entire family. Plan a weekend camping adventure and enjoy a few of these memorable attractions or choose to visit one for a unique day trip!

Humpback Rocks is an 800 acre park with various hiking and bicycling opportunities. The visitor center is located at milepost 5.8 and features a working 19th century Appalachian farmstead. Boating access is available at nearby Sherando Lake.

The Stonewall Jackson House offers guided tours of the confederate general’s home. There are also lush gardens, an informative museum, and small gift shop. This attraction is located just off MP 45.6 in Lexington, VA.

Just 15 minutes off the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 63.7 is The Natural Bridge, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Aside from this wondrous sight, there is a nature park, a variety of peculiar museums, and a living village displaying the life of Indians who once inhabited the area. The Virginia Safari Park is also located minutes away.

Peaks of Otter is a 5000 acre park between MP 84 and MP 87 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Surrounded by the Jefferson National Forest, this parkway attraction provides a variety of hiking trails. Visitors can see live interpretations at the old Johnson Farm and view the first travel lodge in the area, Polly Wood’s cabin. Peaks of Otter also features a picnic area and restaurant, campground and lodge, and a 24 acre lake, so bring your Coleman inflatable kayak.

Virginia’s Explore Park, located just off MP 115.1, is a cultural attraction with living history demonstrations, a restaurant, and a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and kayaking.

Mill Mountain and Roanoke Mountain, located off Blue Ridge Parkway MP 120, offer a campground, a variety of hiking trails, and Mill Mountain Discovery Center, an educational attraction with fun hands-on environmental exhibits. Roanoke, VA also has a variety of attractions only minutes from the Blue Ridge Parkway, including a zoo, caverns, and museums.

Rocky Knob is a 4800 acre park at MP 167 offering the only cabin rentals on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Rocky Knob has 15 miles of hiking trails and is also the location of the restored Mabry Mill, a very popular parkway attraction. The Mabry Mill offers self-guided tours of Appalachian life more than a century ago and also features a country restaurant and a gift shop.

The Blue Ridge Music Center is located at MP 213 and features outdoor musical performances during the summer with an emphasis on bluegrass.

Guide To The Blue Ridge Parkway – Favorite Things To See And Do In Nc

August 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Camping Guides

Shortly after entering North Carolina on the Blue Ridge Parkway, you will find the first public recreation area on the parkway, Cumberland Knob. At MP 217.5, Cumberland Knob is a 1000 acre park with a picnic area and a variety of plant and animal life, including many species of birds. There are also two hiking trails, one short stroll to Cumberland Knob. The other trail is a strenuous 2 hour hike through Gully Creek Gorge.

Stone Mountain State Park, in Roaring Gap, NC, is a fun attraction a few miles off the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 229. Camping, fishing, and hiking are popular activities at Stone Mountain. There are also mountain cultural exhibits, including an old moonshine still, the Garden Park Baptist Church, established in 1897, and the restored Hutchinson homestead. Rock climbing and rappelling are also popular at Stone Mountain State Park, but a permit is required, and admission is free.

Doughton Park is a 7000 acre park on the Blue Ridge Parkway at MP 238.5. Here, visitors can enjoy fishing, hiking, camping, picnicking, and even cross-country skiing during winter months. The restored Brinegar Cabin, built in 1880, offers weaving and basketmaking demonstrations during the summer. These handmade wares can be purchased in the gift shop.

MP 259 is home to a popular shopping destination on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Northwest Trading Post. Here you can find locally crafted gifts and other handmade goodies, as well as a unique selection of collectibles. Minutes from the parkway is the New River and a number of canoe and tubing rental outfitters are available for fun family river trip. You can also bring your own boat, like the Coleman Navigator 3-person inflatable boat, and access the river for your own family adventure. The New River State Park is located just off MP 261 with boat access to the river, as well as canoe camping and primitive camping sites. Parkway visitors can also find cabin and chalet rentals along the nearby river, many with hot tubs and fireplaces, for a romantic mountain getaway.

Also off MP 259 are the world renowned Church of the Frescoes. These Episcopal churches are always open and there is no admission charge. The famous fresco paintings are displayed at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and the Holy Trinity Church showcases a wall mural of The Last Supper.

For a fun, music filled night of dancing with the entire family, visit the Mountain Music Jamboree, just off Blue Ridge Parkway MP 261 in Glendale Springs. Enjoy square dancing, clogging, and other fun family dances every Saturday night and on Fridays as well during the summer.

Blowing Rock is a short drive from the parkway at MP 291.9 and is famous for its mountain charm, extraordinary shopping, and unique attractions. Here you will find the legendary Blowing Rock and can enjoy the 4090 feet view above John’s River Gorge (small admission fee). One of the most popular family attractions near the Blue Ridge Parkway, Tweetsie Railroad, is also located in Blowing Rock. Shopping in the area includes an outdoor recreation specialty store and Tanger Outlets, with 30 various outlet stores.

Clean Camping

August 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Camping Guides

Summer is here, schools are letting out. Time for some family fun and for many Americans, that means camping. Mothers everywhere cringe at all the dirt and grime and germs associated with outdoor living, even if just for one night. I’m one of those mothers and I’ll share with you how I’ve combated the icks and yucks my three sons seem to gravitate to.

Go clean. My sons are required to shower or bathe within 12 hours of departure. This may seem like common sense, but I was surprised at how many kiddos hit the campground filthy. If your kids are clean when you go, they’ll be less dirty when they come back.

Cook clean. Bar-be-que sauce is a one of the top violators of cleanliness. Leave sauces off food, use dry rubs on meat and season veggies with some salt mixed with cumin, black pepper and dry oregano. Make skewered food, prepared ahead of time. The fewer plates and utensils you need, the fewer ways to get dirty.

Wash and wash again. If you bring gallons upon gallons of water with you, wash hands often. If you don’t bring much more than drinking water, pack along some Wet Ones. They are similar to baby wipes but also contain an anti-bacterial solution, to kill those pesky germs.

Zip it up. Tents should always be kept closed to keep out bugs and dirt. Most tents are equipped with screens that can be left closed while you air out the tent by unzipping the door or window. Keeping dirt out will remind your family what clean feels like when you and your kids climb into sleeping bags at night.

Air it out. Remove all foods and clothing from campers and tents. Then, for at least 1 hour before packing up camp, let your camper and/or tent air out by opening all windows and doors (keep those screens closed, though).

Bag it. Make sure you bring plenty of trash bags with you. In addition to waste, you can pack all of those stinky clothes and dishes in them before you head home. Deliver the bags to their destination (trash can, laundry room, kitchen) as soon as you get home. Otherwise, you’ll make your vehicle into a huge Petri dish.

Shower straight away. Everyone should take turns showering and changing into clean clothes as soon as you get home. In addition to cleaning off the surface dirt, the camping germs will go down the drain and take funky smells with them.

Cheap Camping Gear

August 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Camping Guides

Camping for the first time can turn into a wonderful experience, or it can become a nightmare. It mainly depends on the equipment you use. Purchasing and using cheap camping gear has its benefits as well as some downfalls.

If it is your first time camping, you may not want to purchase equipment, as it may add up in the end. So by asking either your friends or relatives if you can use their camping equipment, it may be the cheaper option. However, if they have nice camping equipment they may be hesitant to allow you to use it, or they may not let you borrow it at all. You also may not want to borrow it if you know they have expensive equipment, because you don’t want to run the risk of damaging their tent or burning their stove. So purchasing cheap camping gear to begin with may become the better option.

Most first time campers purchase cheap camping gear at big department stores like K-Mart or Wal-Mart where you can purchase all the basic equipment and stay within your budget. Once you have experienced the outdoors and have decided that you enjoy camping, you can them start to invest in more expensive items that are more durable. Cheap camping gear has the benefit of being cheap, but not much else. Typically cheap camping gear usually falls apart quicker and is less dependable. It is not worth going out and buying cheap camping equipment time and again, because all though it may seem like the cheaper option at the time, it will add up after replacing it more than once. It is often best that you invest in the more expensive, durable equipment that you know will last longer and will cost you less in the long run.

If you are using cheap camping gear on your first camping trip, don’t let any faulty equipment keep you from enjoying your camping experience. Keep in mind that there is better equipment available that makes camping more enjoyable. Purchasing the right camping gear, such as a tent, sleeping bag, stove, or cookware, will make such a difference.

Finding a tent that is waterproof, lightweight and easy to assemble is very important. No one wants to assemble a tent that will take all day to put up, and definitely no one wants to sleep in a leaky tent. So be sure any tent you purchase is waterproof and easy to assemble. Your sleeping bag is also extremely important. You will want a sleeping bag that will keep you warm and be comfortable as well as easy to pack away. A good stove is important, especially in campsites where open fires are not allowed. So be sure to purchase a stove you know will last through many camping trips. You cookware is also important. Buying the cheapest cookware may seem like a good idea, but not when you find that it melts or find little flakes of metal in your food. So it is always worth investing in the basic camping gear.

Camping Essentials A General Guide To The Essentials Of Camping

August 22, 2012 by  
Filed under Camping Guides

When you are going camping there are a number of basic camping gear essentials that go with any camping trip. These basics show up in most camping trips if you are camping without an RV or camping outside of a sheltered area, like a cabin.

These essentials include items such as a tent, sleeping back, cooking gear, first aid kits, emergency supplies, lighting, fire making kit or heating source, knife, personal hygiene products. There are a lot of items that people view as essential which are not actually essential but make the camping experience more enjoyable.

Some of the items that can make your camping trip more enjoyable and for some people are considered essentials are things like Dutch ovens, which allow you to bake while you are camping. Other items are folding chairs, tables and cots to make sitting and sleeping around the camp easier on the body. Some people bring things like coolers for cold foods, and ice. The essential gear for camping depends on the type of camping you are doing and how rough you want to camp. There are some people who enjoy camping with just a sleeping bag and a small tent or tarp in case it rains but for the most part they sleep lying in their sleeping bag under the stars, cooking on a fire and enjoying the simplicity of nature. Others take it up just a step and have a tent and perhaps some fancier cooking gear while others insist that everything but a kitchen sink is essential to camping.

One of the absolute essentials though is a first aid kit; no matter what type of camping you are planning on doing make sure that you have a fully stocked first aid kit. This also should include a snake bit kit; if you are planning on being anywhere in the deep woods or places where snakes are common. Another good thing to bring along is toilet paper, and a small shovel for creating a latrine some people may not find this an essential but for many it is.

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