After being closed last year, visitor centers on the Blue Ridge Parkway are finally open again in time for Memorial Day weekend.
The visitor center at Waterrock Knob in Haywood County — between the Balsam and Soco Parkway entrances at milepost 451 — is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. So is the visitor center along the Asheville section of the Parkway at milepost 384.
While some Parkway facilities never fully reopened last year, the Parkway saw a surge in visitation mirroring the national trend toward outdoor recreation during COVID. Crowds led to parking congestion, excessive trash and littering, and impacts to trails and natural resources.
Blue Ridge Parkway rangers are urging the public this year to tread lightly by practicing Leave No Trace.
“Visitor choices to recreate responsibly and plan ahead play an important role in helping us preserve and protect the Parkway and its resources for future generations,” said Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Tracy Swartout. “The protection of the Parkway is a shared goal between park staff, partners, volunteers and the millions of visitors who come to the park each year. We expect this summer and fall to be busy on the Parkway and one of the ways visitors can help us take care of park resources is by planning ahead.”