Home to a number of national forests, and rare flora and fauna, the Blue Ridge Mountains is one of the most stunning landscapes in America. It’s where you’ll find America’s favorite drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and one of the world’s go-to footpaths, the Appalachian Trail. Keep on reading to learn 41 facts about the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Fact 1: The Blue Ridge, part of the Appalachian range, was created by the uplifting of the Earth’s tectonic plates 1.1 billion to 250 million years ago.
- Tectonic plates are like really huge slabs of rock that can move.
- When they move they cause reactions. Interestingly, tectonic plates can move in 3 ways (boundaries): 2 plates moving towards each other (convergent), 2 plates moving away from each other (divergent), and plates sliding next to each other (transform).
Fact 2: At over 1 billion years of age, the Blue Ridge Mountains are among the oldest in the world, second only to South Africa’s Barberton greenstone belt.
Fact 3: It has around 125 peaks that exceed 5,000 feet in elevation.
Fact 4: The Blue Ridge mountains extend southwestward for 615 miles from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, into parts of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, and all the way to Mount Oglethorpe, Georgia.
Fact 5: Included in the Blue Ridge system are the Black Mountains.
Fact 6: Also included in the system are Mount Mitchell in North Carolina, at 6,684 feet which is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, and the Great Smoky and Unaka mountains.
Fact 7: Quite a lot of notable peaks fall under the Blue Ridge Mountain physiographic province.
Fact 8: Among the notable Blue Ridge peaks are Mount Rogers (the highest point in Virginia), Sassafras Mountain (the highest point in South Carolina), Brasstown Bald (the highest point in Georgia), Stony Man, Hawksbill in Virginia, and Grandfather Mountain, in North Carolina.
Fact 9: The whole region has been intricately cut up by many small streams, and 3 major rivers.
Fact 10: The 3 large rivers that have cut gaps through the ridge include the Roanoke, James, and Potomac, all in Virginia.
Fact 11: It’s home to more than 700 species of trees and plants.
Fact 12: The mountains lie within Chattahoochee, Cherokee, Nantahala, Pisgah, Jefferson, and George Washington national forests.
Fact 13: Within the Blue Ridge province are two major national parks: The Shenandoah National Park, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Fact 14: West Virginia’s state song, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver, prominently mentions the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Fact 15: Partly due to his love for the Blue Ridge mountains, John Denver became an activist for environmental causes and was one of the founders of the World Hunger Project.
Fact 16: 3,290-acre Lake Blue Ridge was created by Toccoa Electric Power Company in 1930.
Fact 17: Lake Blue Ridge has 65 acres of shoreline, and 80% of the shoreline is national forest.
Fact 18: 106,000 acres of the Chattahoochee National Forest is in Fannin County.
Fact 19: The Chattahoochee National Forest is home to more than 300 miles of hiking trails.
Fact 20: The 40,000-acre Cohutta Wilderness in Fannin County is the largest wilderness area east of the Mississippi River.
Fact 21: The Cohutta Wilderness contains 90 miles of hiking and backpacking trails, 2 of which follow the Jacks and Conasauga Rivers.
Fact 22: Blue Ridge Scenic Railway transports visitors on vintage railcars from a 1905 depot through the countryside along the Toccoa River.
Fact 23: The Blue Ridge rail adventure is a two hour 26-mile round trip, with a two-hour time-out to explore the area. The Blue Ridge train runs from March through December, but check these dates and times before you plan your visit in case there are changes.
Fact 24: Blue Ridge is one of the few places in the world with staurolite crystals, or “Fairy Crosses.”
Fact 25: Some believe the unique stones formed when fairies heard of Christ’s crucifixion or when Cherokees wept on the Trail of Tears. Others think the crystals surface through erosion.
Fact 26: The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States.
Fact 27: The park was chartered by the United States Congress in 1934 and officially dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940. The park encompasses 522,419 acres, making it one of the largest protected areas in the eastern United States.
Fact 28: A thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail typically takes between five and seven months.
Fact 29: Speedsters have completed the Appalachian Trail hike in less than 50 days.
Fact 30: Given that the average hiker’s pace is about three miles an hour on a flat piece of terrain, it would certainly take longer to walk over rough terrain, therefore, it’s no wonder it would take up to 7 months to complete a thru-walk.
Fact 31: The ‘fall foliage’ of the Blue Ridge Mountains is one of the most remarkable sites in the world.
Fact 32: Thousands of people come to the area to watch the foliage change color in Autumn.
Fact 33: Peak fall-foliage for the region typically occurs between mid-October through to early-November.
Fact 34: The Blue Ridge Parkway winds its way through the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and offers tourists many outstanding and perfect photo opportunities.
Fact 35: Constructed in 1935 as part of the New Deal to put Americans back to work after the Great Depression, the Blue Ridge Parkway connects the Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, while passing through 469 miles of mountainous terrain.
Fact 36: There are 47 National Heritage Areas along the Parkway. These areas include, Ashe, Buncombe, Clay, Polk, and Yadkin.
Fact 37: Crabtree Falls, on the Blue Ridge Parkway, is the highest vertical-drop cascading waterfall east of the Mississippi River.
Fact 38: Crabtree Falls is a popular attraction located in Nelson County, just six miles off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway near milepost 27.
Fact 39: Crabtree Falls features a series of five major cascades and a number of smaller ones that fall a total distance of 1,200 feet.
Fact 40: The Sassafras Mountain is the highest point in South Carolina, United States, at 3,560 feet.
Fact 41: The Sassafras Mountain lies in the Blue Ridge which is a segment of the Appalachian Mountains about 25 miles northwest of Greenville, in Pickens County, on the North Carolina border.