The story below is an excerpt from our May/June 2014 issue. For the rest of this story and more like it subscribe today, view our digital edition or download our FREE iOS app!
Blue Ridge Parkway
It became official just about the time this magazine went to press: The Blue Ridge Parkway, long touted as the most-visited unit in the National Park system, lost its crown in 2013 – to San Francisco’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
The official tally?
Parkway: 12.9 million visitors, down from 15.2 in 2012.
Golden Gate: 14.3 million in 2013.
The reasons? Well, we Mountain Easterners have several:
1. The infamous parkway crack, which appeared in July near milepost 374 north of Asheville, which ran to 300 feet long and six inches wide, became a walk-to “attraction” in its own right and closed the parkway for a 20-mile section for more than a month.
2. The Asheville Citizen-Times in March quoted parkway officials on broken traffic counters contributing to the low visitor numbers, with one noting in March that of 42 counters, 11 were functioning.
3. The October shut-down of parts of the federal government was timed nearly perfectly to the parkway’s peak visitation time – leaf season.
4. Golden Gate Park has, of course, no leaves to see. Plus they have, you know, that giant city there next to them.
Plus, of course, the usual things that compromise parkway visitation: bad-weather stretches, heavy rains, repeated closures for snow/ice and construction.
Hey, we’ll get ‘em in ‘14.