▶ BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY
Linn Cove Viaduct
THE MISSING LINK OF THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY
Hours of Operation of Visitor Center
9am to 5pm, May through October
Just passed Julian Price Lake headed toward Linville, the Parkway suddenly opens up to breathtaking mountain vistas as you drive, seemingly suspended in air, 4,100 feet above ground along the Linn Cove Viaduct. At times, the views are so enchanting that it’s not until you’re halfway across this 5 mile stretch of Parkway, which hugs the Southern face of Grandfather Mountain, that you begin to question how this engineering feat supports itself.
While nearly all of this 469-mile scenic drive was completed and open to the public by 1967, it took another 20 years of engineering ingenuity to design a viaduct that would extend the Parkway around Grandfather Mountain without causing significant damage to such fragile terrain. The firm of Figg & Miller Engineers Inc. soon got to work, building a 1,243 foot long S-Curve from the top down, which utilized 153 concrete segments weighing nearly 50 tons each. Only seven massive piers support the structure beneath. Nearly $10 million and two decades later, this “Missing Link” of the Parkway was completed and opened to the public in 1987.
To date, this innovative structure has received numerous national design awards. After driving the span of the viaduct, visit the Linn Cove Viaduct Visitor Center to explore exhibits detailing this engineering marvel. At the end of the visitor center parking lot, veer right to access a paved trail which runs underneath the viaduct and connects into the 13.5 mile Tanawha Trail that crisscrosses the Parkway.