Blue Ridge Parkway | LINN COVE VISITOR CENTER (MP 304.4)

Linn Cove Visitor Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Linn Cove Visitor Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Linn Cove Visitor Center is typically open daily from May through the end of October, 10 AM to 5 PM. The current schedule is posted on the National Park Service’s Operating Hours and Seasons web page for the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Visitor Center is home to an information desk staffed with park Rangers, a gift store, and a scale model of the Linn Cove Viaduct. There is also a 20-minute video on the Viaduct construction that plays on a continuous loop. The volume is turned off, but if you want to watch it, the Ranger will play it from the beginning and turn on the volume for you. It’s a fascinating construction project, and the video is well worth the time if you have an interest in engineering. If you watch the video, plan on spending a half hour at the Linn Cove Visitor Center.

If you are traveling south, you will have crossed the Linn Cove Viaduct before reaching the Visitor Center. For those who do not know what a viaduct is, it is a type of bridge. In fact, the technical differences are minor, almost splitting hairs, but in general, viaducts are long bridges made up of many segments. The most popular forms of viaducts are found in major cities such as New York or Chicago where long spans of suspended roads or railroad tracks run above the city streets. You can think of them as roads that are not actually sitting on the ground but are instead suspended above the ground and supported by some type of column, pier, or arch.

In the case of the Linn Cove Viaduct, instead of blasting a tunnel through Grandfather Mountain or cutting a road bed into its side, engineers elected to extend the Blue Ridge Parkway by a viaduct that would skirt the mountain without doing any damage. This was the last construction project on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was completed in 1987, 52 years after construction on the Parkway began. It is a quarter mile long and includes 153 segments, only one of which is straight. Seven concrete piers support the structure. It was the first viaduct of its type built in the United States, though similar bridges had been built in Europe.

Linn Cove Viaduct exhibit at the Linn Cove Visitor Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Linn Cove Viaduct exhibit at the Linn Cove Visitor Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway

When I was in the Visitor Center one of the Rangers told me how to get the photo of the Viaduct that you see on Blue Ridge Parkway postcards and other souvenirs. This is not common knowledge. You won’t find mention of it in any Parkway literature, and the Rangers aren’t promoting it. I just happened to ask where’s the best place to get a photo, and with my fancy camera and hiking boots, I must have looked like somebody with whom to share the secret. To learn how to get the “Souvenir Store Photo” of the Viaduct, read the following trail report:

Linn Cove Viaduct Overlook Trail (aka Tanawha Trail)


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Last updated on November 23, 2023
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