The Blue Ridge Parkway was built for picnics! In addition to hundreds of picnic tables along the way, there are many overlooks and mountaintops that make perfect places to spread your blanket. Here are our favorite Parkway picnic spots in the North Carolina mountains in the greater Asheville area - extending from Price Lake near Blowing Rock to the southern end of the Parkway at Cherokee. (Photo above is Waterrock Knob.)
There is no shortage of spots for a romantic picnic, family reunion or a gathering with friends. But a little advance planning will make your day even better along one of America's most scenic drives.
Enjoying morning coffee and sunrise at the Mills River Overlook.
General Picnicking Tips
- While bear sightings are rare during the day, please take all food and trash with you after your picnic. A bear that has discovered human food or garbage will eventually become active during the day and crave the wrong kind of food.
- Since there are no stores on the Parkway, bring your picnic supplies with you! Gas up, also.
- Weather can change quickly and temperatures are much cooler at the higher elevations, so bring a jacket, even in summer.
- While picnic areas are open year-round, there are no waters or restrooms from November to March.
- Overlooks can get crowded at times on weekend afternoons during the summer and fall. A spot can be crowded one moment and completely empty the next, so be patient.
Crabtree Falls Picnic Area
These five locations were built to accommodate crowds on the busiest days on the Parkway, so you seldom will have trouble finding a table. These areas have restrooms, charcoal grills, water fountains, shelters and trash collection. Camping stoves are ok to use. Only heat-treated firewood is allowed in any of the fire rings. These areas are open sunrise to sunset daily. ADA-compliant and handicap accessible tables are available.
- Milepost 296.4: Julian Price Park, 100 tables in both sunny lakeside spots and shaded areas. Open year round.
- 316.5: Linville River, 100 tables along the river underneath the trees. A covered pavilion is great for groups, but cannot be reserved. Located near the entrance to Linville Falls Visitor Center. Open April 6-October 28, 2018.
- 339.5: Crabtree Falls, 82 sites with mountain or forest views. Open May 25-October 28, 2018.
- 367.6: Craggy Gardens, 86 sites at 5,220 ft. elevation surrounded by rhododendrons. Take a short hike to the top of the bald for spectacular views. Open May 25-October 28, 2018.
- 407.8: Mount Pisgah, 50 wooded sites a short walk from the parking area. The Country Store at Mt. Pisgah is the only place on the Parkway to buy groceries and snacks for a picnic. Open May 25-October 28, 2018.
Haywood Jackson Overlook at Richland Balsam
Best 15 Overlooks & Hikes for Picnics
- Milepost 302.8: Rough Ridge - Hike up a short-but-steep ridge for multiple rock outcroppings perfect for a small romantic picnic with epic views of Grandfather Mountain and Linn Cove Viaduct.
- 305.2: Beacon Heights - Take the easy half-mile trail to several large rock plateaus atop the summit.
- 308.3: Flat Rock - Take an easy 6/10 of a mile loop hike to cliffside spots with panoramic views (pic below).
- 320.8: Chestoa View - The stone overlook is perfect for snacks and drinks - a short walk from the parking area. Find tables by parking for a full picnic.
- 349.9: Mt Mitchell Overlook - Spread your blanket and enjoy the view of the tallest peaks in the Eastern USA. This is a larger parking area, so more room for privacy.
- 350.4: Green Knob Tower - Hike a half-mile uphill to this historic lookout fire tower. While the very top is closed, you can picnic on the steps with spectacular views.
- 355.4: Mt Mitchell - Take a short detour to the highest picnic area east of the Mississippi River. It's adjacent to the parking lot at the summit.
- 364.1: Craggy Pinnacle - Hike 7/10 of a mile uphill to one of the best 360-degree views you will find anywhere. Find several stone overlook areas, perfect for a small picnic for two. For larger picnics, head to the nearby Craggy Gardens picnic grounds (3.5 miles south on the Parkway).
- 382: Folk Art Center - Open year-round, this is a great all-seasons picnic spot that's conveniently located in Asheville. Find outdoor tables, along with restrooms, art exhibitions, gallery shop and more inside.
- 404.5: Mills River Overlook - Our favorite spot for a breakfast picnic to watch the sunrise. Arrive about 30 minutes before the sunrise since the best colors are often before the sun crests over the mountain ridges.
- 409.6: Fryingpan Tower - Hike 3/4 of a mile uphill to the historic fire tower near Mt. Pisgah and picnic on the steps while soaking in the big views.
- 420: Black Balsam Knob - Hike across multiple balds with endless locations for a backpack picnic.
- 430.7: Cowee Mountain - Our favorite place for a sunset spread.
- 431.0: Haywood Jackson Parking Area - Find the highest picnic table on the Parkway, located at Richland Balsam.
- 451.2: Waterrock Knob - Find several picnic tables by the large parking area looking both east and west. Another great spot for sunrise and sunset. Restrooms, too! (Pic at very top of page)
Cliffs along the Flat Rock Trail provide some very romantic picnic spots!