The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles long with 200 plus overlooks. It’s an enormous park and that makes it difficult to know which overlooks to visit for the most beautiful views. Don’t worry, we’ve been to every overlook multiple times over years and years driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here are the 30 most beautiful overlooks.
Are any overlooks worth making a special trip for?
The short answer to this is absolutely. Whether it’s for an amazing sunrise, a breathtaking sunset, or just to feel inspired by the boundless beauty of nature, there are places to do all of those on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
We’ve been to dozens of national parks across the country and while the Blue Ridge Parkway is technically a National Park(way) it retains a lot of the same qualities. It’s the most accessible way we’ve found to quickly escape into nature, even if it’s just for a little while.
How did we decide which overlooks made it onto the list?
This article has been very long in making. We’ve made so many additional trips on the parkway that we didn’t originally plan just so we could make sure a view was actually as good as we remembered. We selected these overlooks because, simply put, they will make you feel something.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is most beautiful when you are standing high above the surrounding mountains and valleys with a long view into the distance. We left off any spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway that is primarily a destination. You won’t find places like Peaks of Otter or Linville Falls on this list. They are amazing and you should definitely visit them, but this list is for the person just wanting a great drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Before you make any trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway it’s important to check for closures. Nothing is more frustrating than driving way out of your way, excited for the day to come, only to have your plans dashed by the flashing barricades.
Beautiful Overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia
Virginia is home to a few of the most beautiful overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway. You’ll find many, many more in North Carolina but there are a few sections of Virginia that hold sweeping mountain views.
You’ll find the lowest spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Otter Lake, in Virginia. Which makes it a little more understandable why there are viewer overlooks with stunning mountain views.
Ravens Roost (milepost 10.7)
Raven’s Roost is just a few miles outside of Shenandoah National Park and so it retains much of the rugged beauty found throughout the national park. The overlook has a large rocky overlook with and superb view to the west.
20 Minute Cliff (milepost 19)
20 Minute Cliff is a beautiful overlook with a funny name. The vast valley sits below the high overlook and, as the interpretive sign at 20 Minute Cliff says, gets it’s name from the peculiar way that 20 minutes after the sun strikes the cliff dusk settles on the valley.
Otter Lake (milepost 63)
Otter Lake isn’t a high overlook with a wide beautiful view of the mountains. Instead it is the lowest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway at 649 feet above sea level. More than just a novelty, there is a small lake that spills over a concrete dam. This makes it not only a manmade lake but also a manmade waterfall.
Thunder Ridge (milepost 74)
Thunder Ridge is a stunning overlook with a stone viewing platform that makes for an amazing stop for wide mountain views. This is also an incredible spot for both sunrise and sunset.
View Arnold Valley (milepost 75.3)
View Arnold Valley is a surprisingly beautiful overlook. It’s wide view gazes out over the huge valley framed by far away mountains. This is one of the better overlooks during the fall in mid to late October because the bright fall colors blanket the valley below.
Pine Tree Overlook (milepost 95.2)
Pine Tree Overlook is named for the large tree dominating the view from one side of the overlook. This is a great overlook anytime but it’s magical at sunrise when you capture the early morning rays cutting through the pine tree.
The Saddle (milepost 168)
The Saddle is a rare overlook where you have a huge view to the east and the west. The view to the east is of the valley far below and to the west you can see Buffalo Mountain far in the distance. Because you can see both east and west, this is a great overlook for sunrise and sunset. It’s also very close to Floyd, Virginia one of the better stops on the parkway.
Mabry Mill (milepost 176)
Mabry Mill is home to a functional mill with a small retention pond surrounded by trees. While it’s always beautiful at Mabry Mill, fall is when it’s best. Mabry Mill, framed by orange and red leaved trees, under a bright blue sky reflected near perfectly in the calm pond – perfection.
Beautiful Overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina
The tall mountains rippling across Western North Carolina are stunning. There are beautiful places all across the United States that boggle the mind, the sea of tree lined mountains that stretch from Blowing Rock to The Great Smoky Mountains belong on that list.
Because of the rugged terrain you can gaze out into some of the few remaining wild places in the Eastern U.S. There are many more breathtaking overlooks in North Carolina, including the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Fox Hunter’s Paradise (milepost 218.6)
Fox Hunter’s Paradise is one of the less popular overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The view from the parking lot is good, but the view from a the stone overlook 250 feet from the parking lot is great. In a section of the Parkway starved of amazing views Fox Hunter’s Paradise stands out.
Grandview Overlook (milepost 281.4)
Grandview Overlook sits at a transition point on the Blue Ridge Parkway where the shorter mountains of Blue Ridge Mountains become the more rugged tall mountains further south. It’s an interesting overlook where the terrain looks especially churned which creates amazing shadows at sunrise.
Thunder Hill (milepost 290.3)
Thunder Hill is one of the first overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway where you get a glimpse of overlapping mountains stretching to the horizon if you are heading south. Sunrise at Thunder Hill is especially beautiful.
Price Lake (milepost 296.7)
Price Lake is an awesome spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Aside from being a beautiful place to visit, you can also hike, kayak, and camp here. Many of the other overlooks are great places to stop by, but Price Lake is a great place to stay.
Yonahlossee Overlook (milepost 303.9)
You know this overlook even if you don’t recognize it by name. This is where all the photos of the Linville Viaduct are taken. You’ll need to walk a bit to get “the picture” as I call it. Aside from the viaduct the view of the mountains is very similar to the view from Rough Ridge, one of the best hikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Chestoa View (milepost 320)
This is a sneaky beautiful overlook. From the parking lot you won’t see the amazing view. There is a very short walk to get to a stone platform where you can view the deep valley and nearby mountain ridge.
Green Knob View (milepost 350.3)
Green Knob View is a wide view with tall mountains stretching across the view. The mountains are high enough that at times the thick fog that lays across Western North Carolina in the early mornings sometimes gets trapped, creating amazing views.
View Glassmine Falls (milepost 361.2)
Glassmine Falls is a somewhat seasonal waterfall. Even during seasons when the waterfall cannot be seen the view from the high platform across from Glassmine Falls is beautiful. This is a beautiful overlook, but one where you should watch your step and maybe skip this one with young kids. There is a very long drop off the edge of the viewing area.
View Hominy Valley (milepost 404.2)
The view of the many layered mountains is amazing from View Hominy Valley. Not only that, this is a great place to watch the sun dip below the mountains and paint the beautiful mountains a deep blue.
The Cradle of Forestry (milepost 411)
The Cradle of Forestry Overlook is an fabulous overlook with a huge forest blanketing both the mountains and the wide valley below. The view from this overlook transports you to a time before civilization before fences and roads marked boundaries.
Pounding Mill Overlook (milepost 413.2)
The view from Pounding Mill Overlook has a lot of similarities to the view from The Cradle of Forestry. Where that differs is when fog lays over the valley below and the tops of mountains just peak out leaving it looking like an ethereal sea.
View Cherry Cove (milepost 415.7)
The Blue Ridge Parkway towers thousands of feet above Cherry Cove. This provides for a huge view spread far into the distance. You also see Looking Glass Rock from this overlook.
View Looking Glass Rock (milepost 417)
Looking Glass Rock is a massive partially bare mountain standing prominently between the high ridges in Western North Carolina. The interesting name of the mountain comes from the mirrored surface created by frozen water reflecting sunlight. Don’t expect to see this in winter though, the Blue Ridge Parkway closes frequently during winter for months at a time.
Caney Fork Overlook (milepost 428)
Caney Fork Overlook is an amazing spot to see sunset. Not only that, the view stretches for miles and miles with layers of mountains stretching to high, distant mountains.
Cowee Mountain Overlook (milepost 430)
Cowee Mountain Overlook is a wide dramatic view of both high mountain peaks and low valleys. It is also another great spot to see sunset. There are many spots along this section of the Blue Ridge Parkway where you can find incredible sunset views.
Richland Balsam Knob (milepost 431)
Richland Balsam Knob is the highest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The view here is good, but there are a few other overlook where the view is a bit better. However, you should definitely stop here. What the view lacks in extreme beauty it makes up for in how wide it is.
Lone Bald (milepost 432.7)
The view from Lone Bald is of the valley splitting two mountains. More interesting, there is a single mountain stretching high above the overlook immediately beside the road.
Roy Taylor Forest Overlook (milepost 433.3)
Roy Taylor Forest Overlook is most beautiful from the large wooden viewing platform a short walk from the parking lot. The platform is inviting and the view is stunning. This is one of our favorite overlooks because not everyone knows how fantastic the view is.
Waterrock Knob (milepost 451.2)
Waterrock Knob is the best overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is surrounded by dozens of slightly lower gorgeous mountains. You can see sunrise and sunset here and both are amazing. Those qualities makes it the most beautiful overlook, plus there is a huge parking area that doesn’t interfere with the view, an awesome hike, and (maybe most importantly) there’s a bathroom. The game is over – Waterrock Knob won. Visit this one every chance you get.
Woolyback Overlook (milepost 452.3)
Woolyback Overlook provides an incredible view of the tall bending mountain ridge with overlapping mountains fading far into the distance. The elegant curves and deep valleys visible from this overlook are fantastic.
Thunderstruck Ridge (milepost 454.4)
At this point you have probably realized that if an overlook has Thunder in the name, stop and check it out. There’s a 100 percent chance if it’s on the Blue Ridge parkway it’ll leave you in awe at sunrise or sunset. The view from Thunderstruck Ridge is overlapping mountains fading into the distance. At sunset the mountains fade to a sea of gray under a painted sky.
Bunches Bald (milepost 459.5)
Just before you reach the Great Smoky Mountains National Park you get one more great view of the nearby mountain ridges. This is also one of the best places to stop by if you love seeing early fall colors spreading across the mountains.
Planning your trip to Beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks
If you look through the list you’ll notice that the beautiful places are, for the most part, clustered around each other. The towns near the highest density of amazing overlooks are Brevard, NC and Boone/Blowing Rock, NC.
These are two excellent areas to visit because there are a lot of outdoor recreation activities as well as plenty of great local restaurants to check out. We usually find somewhere on Airbnb or VRBO.
Trips on the parkway feel incomplete unless we get to hike. If that sounds like you, check out our posts on the best waterfalls along the Blue Ridge Parkway and the best hikes on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Brevard is one of the best spots for waterfalling in the eastern US.
Whether you make a trip out of visiting the Blue Ridge Parkway or just want to quickly stop by a beautiful overlook on your way to somewhere else we hope you find a quiet place be see the incredible mountains.