Blue Ridge Bliss - Virginia
A perennial favorite, our Blue Ridge Bliss tour includes a beautiful route through Shenandoah National Park. On this very special bicycle tour, you’ll explore 332 of the very best miles along the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive, often called “America’s Favorite Drives” — they should be nicknamed “America’s Favorite Bike Tours!”
Among the most popular units of the National Park System, the Parkway and Drive twist and turn through a rural landscape of dark forests, sun-dappled fields, and mountain meadows surrounded by rustic split-rail fences. We’ll spin past historic farmsteads and lodges and through the many valleys known locally as “hollers,” all the while taking note of these roads’ fascinating engineering. Immerse yourself in Appalachia’s singular mix of flora and fauna and its unique and venerable mountain culture. Join us for Blue Ridge Bliss!
Grab some friends and join today! Each rider in a group of 5 or more will receive a $250 discount. Learn more...
"Our tour leader was excellent and the other cyclists became my friends. A wonderful experience, and I can't wait to do my next tour."
Day 1. Roanoke to Fancy Gap, Virginia, Shuttle, 0 miles
We'll meet midday in Roanoke, then shuttle together over to Fancy Gap for the start of our tour. In Fancy Gap, we'll have our orientation meeting then a fantastic meal prepared by our caterer. Before we start our roller-coaster ride along the Blue Ridge, you might consider checking out the outstanding nearby Blue Ridge Music Center. Run by way of a partnership involving the National Park Service and the National Council for the Traditional Arts, the center -- established by Congress in 1985 -- celebrates the music and musicians of the Blue Ridge region. Facilities include an outdoor concert amphitheater and an indoor interpretive center, where a couple of nice hiking trails originate and wind through a forest filled with ferns, rock outcrops, and rhododendron.
Day 2. Fancy Gap to Floyd, 43 miles
For those hardier riders, a side trip to the Music Center 13 miles south of Fancy Gap will make for a more challenging day of riding, adding 26 miles for a 69-mile day. Today, we'll pass the 1892 Mayberry Trading Post (could this be where Andy got the name for his fictional town?) and then, at Milepost 176.1, arrive at Mabry Mill, one of the most photographed spots on the Blue Ridge. Here, at a restored gristmill/sawmill/woodworking and blacksmith shop, old-time mountain skills are demonstrated by docents -- basket weaving, seat caning, spinning, and more. Approximately five miles farther down the road, you might want to take a detour of less than a mile off the parkway for a tour and a taste at the popular Chateau Morrisette winery.
Day 3. Floyd to Vinton, 49 miles
We'll enjoy another fabulous day of finding our way through a rolling landscape of homesteads tucked against low hills, trickling streams, grassy knobs, and distant farmhouses. Characterized as our easier day of riding, the parkway drops down into the Roanoke Valley as we stay a stone's throw east of the city of Roanoke. Riders looking for a challenge can add up to 10 miles of serious climbing to take in the view of the city from Roanoke Mountain or the Mill Mountain Star, the world's largest freestanding, illuminated man-made star, constructed in 1949 at the top of Mill Mountain.
Day 4. Vinton to Monroe, 54 miles
As we leave Vinton, we will wake up our legs with a nice six-mile climb to Great Valley Overlook, then continue north toward the famous trio of mountains known as Sharp Top, Flat Top, and Apple Orchard. We'll find ourselves soaking in the magnificent vistas at the highest point on the parkway in the state of Virginia (3,950 feet). The day ends with a sweet 13-mile downhill to the beautiful James River, the lowest point on the Blue Ridge Parkway at just 649 feet. We will camp just past the James River Visitor Center.
Day 5. Monroe to Waynesboro, 69 miles
You know it will be uphill today! We start at 649 feet and immediately climb 12 miles to our first significant overlook, Whites Gap (2,567 feet). We'll ride the ridge most of the day as we stretch into the northern reaches of the Blue Ridge Parkway and begin the gradual downhill slope toward its end. We finish the day at Milepost 0 of the Blue Ridge Parkway and a nice three-mile downhill scream into camp for the night.
Day 6. Waynesboro to Big Meadows, 61 miles
We begin our day with a steep three-mile climb back up to the entrance to Shenandoah National Park at the Rockfish Gap South Entrance. Skyline Drive begins at Rockfish Gap and continues 105 miles north, but for the time being your climb continues another 500 feet over three miles to McCormick Gap (2,455 feet). The ride will twist and turn -- and climb and coast -- along Skyline Drive through a pastoral landscape of endless mountain views, with the added colorful June touches of blooming Catawba rhododendron and mountain laurel. As on other days, you'll want to keep your eyes peeled for a variety of birds and wild critters. If you're lucky, you may even spot a black bear or a mountain lion. We'll spend the night at Big Meadows Campground on Skyline Drive, where you are likely see dozens of deer grazing in the high meadows.
Day 7. Big Meadows to Front Royal, 58 miles
Your ride today will take you to the highest point on Skyline Drive (3,680 feet) as well as past such descriptive overlooks as Skyland, Pinnacles, Hawksbill, Stony Man, Panorama, Hogback, and Signal Knob. On this, our final day of Blue Ridge Bliss, we'll finish up with a thrilling 12-mile downhill from Compton Gap to the Front Royal North Entrance (Milepost 0) and a short jaunt to our campground for the final night.
Day 8. Front Royal to Roanoke, Shuttle, 0 miles
After a farewell breakfast, you and your companions will board a shuttle back to Roanoke where we'll depart, anything but blue after our ridgeline adventure.
Know before you go
Please consider the terrain and potential weather conditions when preparing for this amazing mountain region tour. You can expect substantial climbing (3,300-6,700 feet per day; 30,504 feet total).
The weather in June is generally very pleasant, but the higher elevations of the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive can experience unexpected extremes, including high winds, and temperatures in the 30s.
Information for eBike riders:
Because every rider, eBike, road condition, and elevation profile is different, it is ultimately up to the participant to judge best whether their battery will last through each tour day. We recommend using pedal assist in its lowest setting or off when not needed to maximize battery range. Bringing a second battery is also recommended. They can be carried by staff on our fully supported events, but will need to be carried by the participant on our inn-to-inn trips.