Blue Ridge Parkway Live Cam

At The Bluffs Restaurant at milepost 241 near Sparta


Other Live Webcams:

Hosted by:

  • Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation
  • 717 S. Marshall Street - Suite 105B
  • Winston-Salem
  • North Carolina 27101 - United States
  • (866) 308-2773

A National Parkway and All-American Road in the United States

Our mission is to support the Parkway and its programs. Everyone is aware of the federal cutbacks, and I am told "the Parkway still looks good" but the fact is that some of the views don't. My wife Ada and I have enjoyed for over 30 years a home on the Parkway, only shouting distance from Mabry Mill. We have seen the changes--- more people, more development, more traffic, but fewer rangers presenting that ever so important interpretive talk.

The specific purposes of the Foundation are to generate funds for the Blue Ridge Parkway from grant sources, assistance programs and through gifts from private individuals, organizations, corporations, and foundations; to support Parkway programs primarily for visitor services and education, cultural and historic preservation, planning and scientific research; to conserve, preserve, and enhance the Blue Ridge Parkway for the benefit of the American people; and serve as a resource for other non-profit agencies in the Blue Ridge Heritage Corridor whose mission statements are aligned with the mission of the Parkway.

My personal belief is that the future of the Parkway lies particularly within our youth, the some 20 million visitors that visit the Parkway every year, and a dedicated administration. We can not inform or educate the public enough of the importance of this great resource to their future quality of their lives.

In summary, the Foundation started in North Carolina but it should be understood that this Foundation is for both North Carolina and Virginia; we are already cultivating leadership from our state to the north. But you can become a leader, too, by making an important contribution today by volunteering your time or personal resources to this great endeavor.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is many things to many people; A national treasure, a nationally designated "All-American Road" (NC) and a great place to hike, camp or picnic. One can explore its extraordinary beauty and remarkable landscape in a very personal way, making it the most visited national park area in the United States.

The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is a private, non-profit foundation, specifically chartered to help offset the impact that an ever-increasing visitor population and diminished budget allocations are having on this national treasure.

Dr. Houck Medford, Executive Director of The Foundation, recently sat down with Matt Bolka in Blowing Rock, NC, to discuss the Foundation's purpose, projects and programs.

Your organization is not really that old. Tell us how and why it came into existence, along with its primary purpose and mission.

The Blue Ridge Parkway was inaugurated in 1997 in the tailwinds of the 1996 North Carolina "Year of The Mountains Commission”. The Foundation is a chartered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization operating with a formal agreement with the National Park Service, an agency of the Department of the Interior. Our purpose, broadly stated, is to help preserve, protect, and promote its vast resources for the visiting public. We apply our collective resources toward various projects and programs that, together with the NPS, we have identified as needing support, from the protection of our precious view areas to environmental education in our public classrooms.

Who are your constituents, and where do you find them?

We are not a membership organization; however, we do have a broad base of support which we are cultivating from relationships established since 1935 when the Parkway was begun. Geographically, the Parkway traverses 469 miles through 29 different counties in North Carolina and Virginia. Each community has a different relationship with the Parkway---economically, politically, socially and environmentally. Our activities and projects are variable and flexible for that reason. Projects directed in Augusta County at Milepost Zero near Waynesboro and Stanton, Virginia differ from projects in the High Country communities of Boone, Blowing Rock, Banner Elk, and Linville, NC. There are over 4500 adjacent property owners on the Blue Ridge Parkway. They are an important resource. In addition, we try and seek support from corporations, private individuals, and other foundations. Our greatest constituency is the 20 million visitors to the Parkway each year. The Foundation offers the public the opportunity to participate; and as they should. The Blue Ridge Parkway belongs to the people.

Can you give some specific examples of projects in which The Foundation is involved?

Yes, I'd be happy to. Most would agree that the most important attribute of the Blue Ridge Parkway is its scenic views. One of our goals is to help preserve those views.

That sounds like a tremendous undertaking, given the length of the Parkway.

Well, it is. You're looking at about an area of over two thousand miles of contiguous boundary. Nearly one-third of the views on the Parkway have been scored for their scenic quality. Unfortunately, there is not enough money in the world to buy all those views. We have to depend on the awareness and interest of the public and its sensitivity to intrusive or inappropriate development. Land conservancies such as the Southern Appalachian Land Conservancy, the Conservation Trust for North Carolina or the Western Virginia Land Trust offer the best opportunities for the public to become more involved in this specialty endeavor.

Aside from preserving the scenic quality, what other types of projects are you involved with?

We have many projects, long and short-term. One of our most recent is the conversion of a small convenience station and open-air shelter into a first class interpretive center with new educational exhibits at Waterrock Knob, Milepost 451.2. With funds contributed by private individuals, corporate partners Wachovia Bank, Carolina Power and Light, and the Parkway’s retail association, Eastern National, a new visitor contact station is now available to the public. Long term projects are the "Parks As Classrooms" and Junior Ranger Programs which promote the use of the Parkway as "living classrooms" for our young people.

Any others?

Yes, preserving the oral histories of many of the people who helped build the Parkway. The power of the personal story is one of the most compelling messages that can be shared with the Parkway visitor - - that message deserves sharing.

I'm guessing a lot of people are thinking what I am right now...Isn't all of that paid for by the Federal Government with our taxes?

Yes, but most all of the Parkway's budget is allocated to maintenance and protection. And yes, these are important for quality of life issues and visitor enjoyment. All of the Foundation's funding goes to projects or programs which meet two criteria: they must have a lasting value and they must enhance the quality of life of the Parkway visitor. All these projects or programs must benefit the public. An example, is the preservation of the Parkway archives. The Parkway is a uniquely conceived environment, a three- dimensional composition, carved from the rugged Appalachian landscape of the 1930's when most of the hillsides were scared by detrimental agriculture and logging practices.

These principles are demonstrated widely in 19th Century landscape painting and landscapes—excellent examples are Frederick Law Olmstead’s New York City Central Park and the magnificent grounds of Biltmore House. The Foundation is working to make these available to the public. These documents not only have historical significance, but also are still being used as working documents today. Appreciation of the present derives from our knowledge of the past.

Isn't this a huge task?

Well, one of the things the Foundation is most complemented on is its broad vision. This is definitely a multi-generation project, ongoing, and one not to be completed in our lifetime. The opportunity for the public is the opportunity for the now and the future.

How can individuals participate in supporting The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation?

There are many ways. First, is a financial investment. We receive many inquiries asking how they can join the effort. Stewardship opportunities range from an annual giving program, a memorial and honors program, to a fully detailed planned giving program. The Foundation offers all those opportunities. Second, is telling others of the success of our program. Third, many want to volunteer their time and we do our best to match their talents to a Foundation or Parkway need. Whatever the area of specific offering, the Foundation welcomes the call to explore how we can work with the donor to help protect, preserve and enhance the Parkway for generations to come.