Sunday, December 18, 2011

Photo of the Week #33 – The Blue Ridge Mountains

This photo illustrates why they are called the Blue Ridge Mountains. While the Blue Ridge Mountains are far from the highest mountains in the world or even in the U.S. or North America, they provide some of the most beautiful views in the country. I shot this photo in July of 2005 at one of the scenic overlooks along the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway extends from the Rockfish Gap near Waynesboro, Virginia (on Afton Mountain) to Cherokee, North Carolina near Asheville and the Cherokee Indian Reservation. This particular shot was taken in North Carolina not far from the Virginia border and Galax, Virginia. You’re looking east toward the Piedmont region.

Virginia and North Carolina are mountainous in the western parts of the states, fairly flat and lower in elevation in the central piedmont region and finally, the lowlands are along the Atlantic coastline. This particular location was at about 2,900 feet above sea level. The Piedmont below, other then the smaller mountains in the background, is at around 1,000 feet. The mist through the mountains is what causes the bluish color, thus, the Blue Ridge. It’s difficult for those folks from the western part of the U.S. who live in or near the Rockies, the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges to call the eastern mountain ranges “mountains,” though each state, both North Carolina and Virginia, have mountains that reach at least a mile high. But, for the most part the eastern mountains are somewhat less then 4,000 feet. However, the eastern mountains are much older then the western mountains and very lush in vegetation and beautiful rivers and streams.

If you’ve never experienced any of the eastern mountain ranges, the 469 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway and it’s connected northern sister, the Skyline Drive, an additional 105 miles, through the Shenandoah Forest National Park from Front Royal, VA to Rockfish Gap is well worth your time. The combined distance is 574 miles. Take at least three to four days to make the trip and stop off in some of the small towns along the way, like Mt. Airy, North Carolina where Andy Griffith was born and raised and was a model for his hit TV series, “The Andy Griffith Show” (1960-1968) and Galax, Virginia, home of the legendary “Old Fiddler’s Convention” drawing fiddlers from around the world. And in North Carolina you won’t want to miss the Biltmore Estate at Mt. Pisgah (the Parkway runs through the original estate property) and Boone.    

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