Blue Ridge Parkway – Visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway often ask when the Parkway closes for the winter. Even as many park facilities close seasonally, the Parkway motor road remains open. Temporary weather or maintenance related closures though, often impact Parkway travel during the winter months.
In response to ever changing road conditions, National Park Service staff developed an online tool that allows visitors to monitor openings and closings along the historic, 469-mile route using an interactive, real time road map. The map allows visitor to zoom in on specific sections of the Parkway, provides up to the minute road closure information, and becomes an essential Parkway planning tool for park visitors, especially in the winter.
Winter weather can impact the Parkway for extended periods given a number of variables including the route’s north facing slopes, tunnels, high elevations, and limited sight distances. Limited snow and ice removal may take place, however the Parkway’s natural resource protection priorities limit the use of ice melting chemicals. Park rangers monitor conditions in affected areas and open the road as soon as safe travel can resume.
In the coming weeks and months, visitors may also experience closures in certain areas for annual maintenance involving boom axe operations. Both lanes of the Parkway will be closed to all activity (cars, bicycles, and hikers) during these closures to ensure the safety of the staff and visitors. This work requires using a large tractor with a cutting head on a long arm, or boom. Precise locations and dates for these closures are available on the Parkway’s website. In addition, affected sections will be noted on the real time map and regular updates related to this work will also be available on the Parkway’s social media sites.