Why You Need to Visit the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center (MP 384)

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Whether you’re taking your very first Blue Ridge Parkway road trip or– like us– you’ve explored the scenic route multiple times, a visit to the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center is a must!

Located near Downtown Asheville, just 2.4 miles south of the Southern Highland Craft Guild Folk Art Center, the Visitor Center is essentially a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the BRP. 

This is one of over a dozen different Visitor Centers located along the 469-mile scenic route, which was built to connect Great Smoky Mountains National Park in NC to Shenandoah National Park in VA. 

But the one located at Milepost 384 is the official Blue Ridge Parkway Headquarters, and offers an array of exhibits on the cultural, natural, and recreational resources of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains

Read on to learn why you need to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville, including an overview of all the exhibits, amenities, and attractions you’ll find there! 

READ MORE: How to Plan an Amazing Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip

Need a hotel near the BRP Visitor Center? Check out our recommendations!

  1. GLo Hotel Asheville-Blue Ridge Parkway  (3-star hotel w/free breakfast & indoor pool)
  2. Best Western Asheville-Blue Ridge Parkway  (Pet-friendly hotel with breakfast & pool)
  3. Holiday Inn Asheville East-Blue Ridge Pkwy  (Budget & pet-friendly, quiet w/heated pool)
  4. Cambria Hotel Downtown Asheville (Great views, stylish interior & rooftop terrace)
  5. Mountain Springs Cabins (We loved these pet-friendly cabins 10 minutes west of Asheville)
Wildlife Exhibit at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville NC
Wildlife Exhibit at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center

Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center Info 

ADDRESS: 195 Hemphill Knob Rd, Asheville NC (BRP Milepost 384)

PHONE NUMBER: 828-298-5330


HOURS:  Open daily from 9 AM to 4:30 PM (except major holidays).


Driving Directions from Downtown Asheville

From Downtown Asheville, take Haywood St. towards College St. After 0.3 miles, turn right onto I-240 E. Go 4.2 miles, then keep right to continue on US-74 ALT E, following signs for the Blue Ridge Parkway. In 1 mile, exit towards the BRP and turn right onto it in 0.2 miles. Go 0.7 miles, then turn left onto Hemphill Knob Rd. The BRP Visitor Center will be on the left in 0.2 miles. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Blue Ridge Parkway Hotels & Cabin Rentals in NC & VA


Things to Do at the BRP Visitor Center

Learn About Blue Ridge Parkway History 

If you’re interested in learning more about the 90+ year history of the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Visitor Center is a great place to start. 

There are all sorts of exhibits about the construction of the world-renowned scenic route, the engineering marvel known as the Linn Cove Viaduct, and the mid-20th Century heyday of auto touring in the USA. 

They also have a 70-seat surround sound theater that regularly shows a 24-minute film, “The Blue Ridge Parkway-America’s Favorite Journey.”

This movie follows a father-daughter road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway, incorporating its fascinating history as well as the stunning sights you’ll see while driving the 469-mile route today. 

READ MORE: The 20 Best Blue Ridge Parkway Restaurants in VA & NC

Giant Blue Ridge Parkway Map at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville NC
Giant Blue Ridge Parkway Map at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center

Plan Your Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip

There are more than 200 Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks in Virginia and North Carolina, not to mention hundreds of incredible hiking trails, waterfalls, historic sites, state parks, and charming mountain towns.

Whether you’re planning to explore the entire 469-mile route or just one of the four main sections, figuring out the must-see places to go and things to do can be challenging for even the most organized travelers. 

The Visitor Center has a ginormous detailed map of the Blue Ridge Parkway, as well as an information desk staffed by knowledgable rangers who can help answer your travel questions. 

There’s also a regional visitor info desk staffed by the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, a non-profit that preserves and promotes the natural and cultural heritage of Western NC and the Qualla Boundary.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Blue Ridge Parkway Overlooks in NC & VA

Hiker Statue at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitlor Center in Asheville NC
Hiker Statue at the BRP Visitor Center

Hiking & Picnicking

During our first Blue Ridge Parkway road trip in 2020, we enjoyed a lovely lunch at a picnic table right in the Visitor Center parking lot. 

But there’s also a 1.5-mile TRACK Trail loop that begins in the parking lot (which is right off the BRP) and follows along a small portion of the 1,175-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Created by Kids in Parks, TRACK Trails are designed to engage children and their families in activities that get them outdoors and connected to nature.

Kids can track their outdoor adventures in an online journal, log their miles of hiking trails completed, see the badges they’ve earned, and receive prizes in the mail. 

It’s a great way to get kids excited about exploring the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains!

READ MORE: The 25 Best Blue Ridge Parkway Waterfalls in North Carolina

Exhibit at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville NC
Outdoor Adventure Exhibit at the BRP Visitor Center

Explore Nearby Blue Ridge Parkway Attractions

Even if you’re not planning a full-on road trip, the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center in Asheville offers proximity to some of our favorite BRP overlooks, hiking trails, and other attractions.

Our favorite Blue Ridge Parkway overlooks in the area include View Chestnut Cove (Milepost 398.3), the French Broad Overlook (MP 393.8), the Tanbark Ridge Overlook (MP 376.7), and View Craggy Dome (MP 364.1).

In addition the Visitor Center Loop, other popular Blue Ridge Parkway hikes nearby include the moderately difficult Craggy Pinnacle Trail (MP 364.2, o.7 miles), the strenuous Mt. Pisgah Summit Trail (MP 407.6, 1.3 miles), and the relatively easy Buck Springs Trail (MP 407.6, 1.06 miles). 

Other nearby BRP attractions include the Southern Highland Craft Guild’s Folk Art Center (MP 382), the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center (MP 364.7), and the array of incredible North Carolina waterfalls (including Looking Glass Falls, Moore Cove Falls, and Sliding Rock) along Hwy 276 (MP 411). 

All are worth visiting if you can make time! –by Bret Love; all photos by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett



Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

The BRMTG was created by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, the award-winning team behind the world-renowned responsible travel website Green Global Travel. Born and raised in North Georgia, Editor-In-Chief Bret Love grew up hiking and camping in the Blue Ridge Mountains with his family. A professional writer/editor since 1995, he's covered travel and culture for 100+ publications, including American Way, Destination Marriott, Georgia Travel Guide, National Geographic, and Southbound. In 2010 he co-founded the award-winning website, Green Global Travel, which is ranked among the world's top travel blogs. Since launching BRMTG in 2020, he and Mary Gabbett have visited 50+ Blue Ridge Mountain towns together. Though she lived in NYC for 14 years, photographer/Business Manager Mary Gabbett's family has Georgia roots dating back 200+ years. Her great-grandfather was President of the Western Railroad of Alabama. Before moving to Atlanta in 1989, she fell in love with the North GA mountains, where her aunt owned a cabin. In 2010 she co-founded Green Global Travel, and has since traveled to more than 40 countries on six continents. Her photos have appeared in numerous travel publications (including National Geographic and Southbound) and various textbooks.