SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
Outstanding scenery and recreational opportunities make the Blue Ridge Parkway one of
the most popular units of the National Park System.
You do not have to be at an overlook to stop and enjoy the scenery. Unless otherwise
posted, parking is permitted along road shoulders. Choose a place where you can pull
your car completely off the road so as not to endanger yourself or others. Be alert for
wildlife. Deer and other animals may dart in front of you.
Wildlife is a delight to see along the Parkway. When the sun is high, groundhogs sit erect,
and chipmunks and squirrels chitter and chatter. At night, skunks, foxes, oppossums, and
raccoons may be seen along the roadsides. Look for white-tailed deer and the shy black
bear in the early morning or evening. More than 100 bird species can be seen during the
spring migration season.
Trees are everywhere. In spring, tuliptrees, serviceberry, and others produce showy
And as I have mentioned, during the fall foliage season, leaves burst into the most
wonderful bouquets of vivid color. You’ll see the most vibrant oranges and yellows.
Dogwood, sourwood, and blackgum turn deep red. Tuliptree and birches turn yellow,
sassafras a vivid orange, and red maples add a multicolored brilliance. Mountain ash
berries turn bright red and provide food for wintering birds. Finally oaks put on a dash of
russet and maroon. Evergreens include Virginia pine, white pine, hemlock, spruce, and
fir. God dips His brush in so many colors on the palette to create this ever-changing,
MY FAVORITE STOP
There are numerous exits off the parkway, but since I am a diehard Andy Griffith Show
fan, I can’t drive the Blue Ridge without getting off the exit at Highway 52, and traveling
the 17 miles back into a simpler, more wonderful time in Mt. Airy, North Carolina.
The late actor Andy Griffith grew up here, and it's no coincidence that a stroll down Mount
Airy's Main Street will remind people of the fictional town of Mayberry.
Remembrances of the popular television program, still alive in re-runs all over the world,
are everywhere—from Floyd’s City Barber Shop to the Old Mayberry Jail and Andy’s
childhood home. Homefolk are no fools. They seem to enjoy the attention and revenue
from so many visitors, but they also have preserved the most amazingly and genuinely
down-home flavor that must have been a staple during the years when little Andy walked
barefoot through the streets.
And while you are there, you absolutely must drop in to the Snappy Lunch, located at 125
North Main Street. Sound familiar? It should!
It’s not only Mount Airy’s oldest eatery where Andy ate as a young boy (students at the
nearby public school often went there for lunch, since there was no school cafeterias
back then), but diehard fans like me know that it was mentioned from time to time the
In an early episode of The Andy Griffith Show entitled "Andy the Matchmaker," Andy
suggested to Barney that they go to the Snappy Lunch to get a bite to eat. Andy also
mentioned the café in his version of the song "Silhouettes." More recently in a television
news interview, Andy talked about getting a hot dog and a bottle of pop for 15 cents there
when he was a boy.
Men named George Roberson and Deuce Hodge opened the Snappy Lunch in 1923.
After a few months, Hodge sold his interest to Ben Edwards. Then in 1943, Charles
Dowell began working for then-owners, George Roberson and Raymond Hemrick. In
1951, Charles bought Mr. Roberson’s half of the business. In those days, a person could
buy a bologna sandwich for a nickel and a hot dog for a dime. Finally, in 1960 Dowell
bought Hemrick’s half of the café, making him the sole owner, which he continues to be
after a half century!
What to eat? Anything on the menu! Just know that the restaurant is world famous for the
delectable pork chop sandwich, which was created by Dowell.
The Snappy Lunch is open M-F 5:45 AM-1:45 PM, Saturday PM-1:15 PM, and closed on
Sunday. Tours are welcome.
And you definitely want to visit the Andy Griffith Museum at 218 Rockford Street in Mount
Airy. It's the largest collection of Andy Griffith memorabilia, collected through the years by
his friend Emmett Forrest. New items are constantly being donated, and archived pieces
are rotated into the display, so any time you visit will offer something new to see.
AND MAYBERRY, TOO!!!
Few things in life are better than fall with it's parade of gorgeous colors and the hint of
winter in the air? I love all the seasons, but fall is my favorite (of course I say the same
thing about winter, spring and summer each year!).
No matter where I roam on the world’s highways and waterways, late September,
October and even November are always the times when my heart yearns for the sight of
a kaleidoscope of blazing fall colors, the smell of freshly squeezed apple cider, and the
excitement of spending time enjoying God’s autumn wonders.
One of my favorite places during the peak foliage season is anywhere on the Blue
Ridge Parkway. Anywhere! If you haven't been there for next spring or fall, make plans
If you’ve been to the Blue Ridge, you already know why good ole Rosie is still
so enthusiastic about being there, especially during autumn and springtime.
The Parkway follows the Appalachian Mountain chain and provides seemingly
endless views of many parallel ranges connected by cross ranges and
scattered hills. From Shenandoah National Park the Parkway follows the Blue
Ridge, eastern rampart of the Appalachians, for 355 miles. Then, for the
remaining 114 miles, it skirts the southern end of the massive Black
Mountains, named for the dark green spruce and fir that cover them, weaves
through the Craggies, the Pisgahs, the Balsams, and ends in the Great
Along the Parkway are numbered mileposts. The zero milepost marker is at
Rockfish Gap immediately south of Shenandoah National Park. Each mile
is numbered progressively southward on the Parkway to its southernmost
entrance at Cherokee.
You will have plenty of time to see the sights, since the speed limit is 45 miles
per hour or less anywhere on the Parkway, strictly "America's Favorite Drive"
winds those 469 total miles through mountain meadows and vast vistas. Split-
rail fences, old farmsteads and historic structures complement spectacular
views of distant mountains and neighboring valleys.
Building the Parkway through mountainous terrain was a monumental labor.
Authorized in the 1930s as a Depression-era public works project, the
Parkway was more than a half-century in the making. It was the nation's first,
and ultimately longest, rural parkway, connecting Shenandoah National Park
in Virginia with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.
Enduring standards for parkway engineering and design were pioneered here.
The collection features hundreds of items from the life and
career of Andy Griffith in movies, television and music as
well as a variety of memorabilia. The show's fans (and who
isn't?) can see actual props from both The Andy Griffith
Show and Matlock given by Andy himself. The collection
also includes items donated by cast members and actors
from The Andy Griffith Show as well as a special section
on the career of actress and current Mount Airy resident
The Andy Griffith Museum is open 7 days a week all year
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
So, stay awhile in Mount Airy and relish the caring people
of “Mayberry,” or just take a short detour off the Blue
Ridge Parkway, but whatever you do, make sure you
relish the caring, nostalgic “Mayberry” spirit when you take
your fall foliage tour.