Parkway: All 469 miles open Friday
Time to check those tires, roll down the windows, and get ready for a road trip.
For the first time in 18 months, your Saturday drive could take you the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway, no detours required.
A severe landslide at milepost 400 closed the Parkway last October from milepost 399 to 405, the section between Asheville and Mt. Pisgah, and it's been closed with a detour ever since.
"We're just now finishing the repair of that landslide ... and they are at the point now where the slope has been stabilized," Parkway chief of maintenance and engineering Mike Molling said.
He anticipates one lane of traffic open by noon Friday.
The area, which has had a series of slope slides over the past 10 years, took a lot of work, but it wasn't unexpected.
"We knew it was going to take awhile," Molling said. "It was a pretty serious landslide."
But all the work is about to pay off. Molling expects tourism to pick up at what's traditionally one of the Parkway's hotspots: Mt. Pisgah campground at milepost 408.
Between 17 and 18 million people hit the Parkway last year, and Molling expects that number dropped off slightly with the slide. "But how much of a drop, I don't know," he said.
Now, with no detours, tourists have no excuse not to enjoy the summer weather on the Parkway, he said.
"I'd just be happy to drive any section this time of year," he said. "It's just a great place to experience the wonders of nature ... anywhere you go on the Parkway, it's just a nice drive. It's good views, and the fact that we're open for the entire length, now you don't have to worry about dealing with the road closure."
The Blue Ridge Parkway, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, runs 469 miles from Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, Va., to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.