One of the most popular draws to the Shenandoah Valley is back open for the foreseeable future. Mild weather means the millions of drivers who visit the Blue Ridge Parkway every year are hitting the road again.
The reopening Tuesday brought a long line of cars with people eagerly waiting to get the scenic view. Park service workers say freezing temperatures and icy conditions forced them to shut down the section for well over half the winter.
As temperatures climb and snow from over the weekend melts on the Ridge District of the parkway, which starts at Afton Mountain and goes to Milepost 86, workers are excited to allow a more extended opening.
Summertime can be dangerous too, with downed trees or rockslides, but workers say spring brings ideal driving conditions.
"The good thing about this year is some facilities that were closed last year are re-opened for this year, like Otter Creek Campground and the Visitor's Center at James River, so that's a plus for us,” said Dave Foster, National Park Service district facility manager for the Ridge District.
Workers want to remind potential visitors they should obey the speed limit on the winding road and keep an eye out for wildlife and sliding rocks.
A re-paving project is also scheduled in the ridge district this year, which could cause some closures. The parkway manager says visitors should always check ahead to see if the parkway is open