This time of year, we talk to a lot of folks who are either curious or confused about the status of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  And it can be confusing, especially to folks who are unfamiliar with how it operates.  During the fall, winter, and spring, understanding the road closures along the Parkway should be a key part of planning a hike.

According to the Blue Ridge Parkway's website, "Much of the parkway is located at high elevation, where it is colder, wetter, and windier than in the surrounding communities. The parkway may need to be closed due to ice, snow or downed trees—even at times when the weather at lower elevations is warm and pleasant. In spring and fall, ice may persist in tunnels long after temperatures have warmed outside the tunnels."

Even when the weather is nice here in Asheville, there may be cold temperatures, winter weather, and/or ice on the road and in the tunnels along the Parkway.  Many of the most popular hikes in our area are accessed via the Parkway.  So how do we recommend planning around this uncertainty?

1. If you're hiking with us, know that Parkway closures are fully out of our control!  Even if you've talked to your guide about a specific hike, you may have to make a last minute change in the event of a closure.  Be flexible, and know that your guide is going to suggest an AWESOME alternate location!

2. When you're planning your hike, have either an alternate way of driving to the hike, or an alternate nearby hike in mind.  Keep in mind that many of the roads that lead to the parkway may have slick road conditions linger long after winter weather events at higher elevations.

3. Before you head out, check the status of the road on the Blue Ridge Parkway's website.  Map apps are typically not as accurate as the Parkway website.  But there can be a delay between the road closing and the website being updated, so be prepared for last minute changes.

4. Take a step off the beaten path, and check out some hikes that don't rely on the Parkway.  There are hundreds of miles of trail within an hour drive of Asheville that can accessed without the Parkway.  Staying at a lower elevation has the added bonus of being a little bit warmer!

5. When the Parkway closes to vehicle traffic, it is still open to bikes and pedestrians!  If it's closed and snowy, why not take a snowy road walk to see the Parkway from a different perspective?!