Blue Ridge Parkway Reopening Northern Stretch, Parking Lots

Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health authorities, Blue Ridge Parkway is increasing recreational access. The National Park Service (NPS) is working servicewide with federal, state, and local public health authorities to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and using a phased approach to increase access on a park-by-park basis.

On Saturday, May 23, the Parkway will reopen gates providing motor vehicle access to the northernmost 13 miles of the park, from Milepost 0 – 13, in coordination with the Shenandoah National Park planned reopening. In addition, the parking areas at Milepost 85.9 (Peaks of Otter Visitor Center and Sharp Top Parking Areas) and Milepost 92.5 (Sharp Top Parking Widening) will reopen.

With public health in mind, seasonal visitor service facilities including campgrounds, picnic areas, restrooms and visitor centers remain closed at this time.

The health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners continues to be paramount. At the Blue Ridge Parkway, the operational approach will be to examine each facility function and service provided to ensure those operations comply with current public health guidance, and will be regularly monitored. We continue to work closely with the NPS Office of Public Health using CDC guidance to ensure public and workspaces are safe and clean for visitors, employees, partners, and volunteers. 

While these areas are accessible for visitors to enjoy, a return to full operations will continue to be phased and services may be limited. When recreating, the public should follow local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding and avoid high-risk outdoor activities.

The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks and open spaces prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Park management will continue to monitor all functions to ensure visitors adhere to CDC guidance for mitigating risks associated with the transmission of COVID-19 and take any additional steps necessary to protect public health.  

Details and updates on park operations will continue to be posted on the Parkway’s website and social media channels.

The News-Gazette

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