Driving from Houston, Clingmans Dome, Blue Ridge Parkway, Skyline Drive to Boston

zzffnn

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I have no more than 13 days to drive from Houston to Boston (likely leaving on Aug 14/15 and arriving at Boston on Aug 27/28). On the way, I want to visit:

Clingmans Dome (Great Smoky Mountain National Park),
Blue Ridge Parkway (starting at https://www.google.se/maps/dir/35.5056073,-83.3007718//@35.500821,-83.3105565,15z/data=!4m2!4m1!3e0 )
Skyline Drive (Shenandoah National Park)

Then drive directly to Boston and live/work there for at least 2 years (or forever).

Please kindly share your tips (Do's and Do Not's) about those 3 attractions. For example, what is the best way to get driving direction from Google Map, going from start of Blue Ridge Parkway to end of Skyline Drive? I see that BRP has a phone app that does connect with Google Driving Map.

Is tripod allowed at Clingmans Dome? Are there reasonable amount of gas stations and resting spots long Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive? I assume the answers are yes, yes and yes, but would like a confirmation.

I know I should wait for an hour or so, if fog is too heavy at Clingmans Dome. As for the rest of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, I have looked at TripAdviser photos of Roaring Fork, Cades Cove, Laurel Falls and decided to save them for next trip.

I have also looked at tourist photos taken from all attractions mentioned in my previous thread and have decided to skip all of the following on my short list (and save them for next trip):

Talladega National Forest
Chattahoochee National Forest
Nantahala National Forest
Pisgah National Forest
Cherokee National Forest
Front Royal
Roan Mountain State Park
Grayson Highlands State Park
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Do you strongly believe that I am skipping too much, in view of my 13 days' of time allowance? Or my plan sounds about right, in your opinion?

I prefer concentrating my limited time on Great Smoky Mountain NP and Shenandoah NP; if I have to add something, I will probably only add the Grayson Highlands State Park, as I like those wild ponies.

To drive from Houston to Clingmans Dome, I will NOT drive through Louisiana for fear of flood and hurricane. I will drive along Highway 59, to Nacogdoches, to Texarkana, then take Hwy 30, to Little Rock, AK, then Hwy 40, to Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville, TN (https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Hou...ea92dac4f534c5!2m2!1d-83.9207392!2d35.9606384).

Is there a faster or more scenic route to drive to Clingmans Dome from Houston, without going through Louisiana?

From Knoxville, I will drive along Hwy 441 and 321 to Clingmans Dome, then to Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive.

Google suggested two ways to drive from Shenandoah National Park to Boston. I am guessing the northern route may have less traffic?

https://www.google.se/maps/dir/Shen...7cbf240162e8a0!2m2!1d-71.0588801!2d42.3600825

Thank you very much!
 
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This isn't 1800, a hurricane isn't something that appears out of nowhere. You will know with days in advance if there will be one along your route. It's pretty silly to avoid LA because of it. You are more likely to be delayed because of a thunderstorm from Houston, through AR and all the way through TN.
 

zzffnn

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This isn't 1800, a hurricane isn't something that appears out of nowhere. You will know with days in advance if there will be one along your route. It's pretty silly to avoid LA because of it. You are more likely to be delayed because of a thunderstorm from Houston, through AR and all the way through TN.
But hurricanes change route and computer predictions are not always accurate, aren't they? Do AR/TN always have terrible thunderstorm in late August? I prefer to take on a thunderstorm than a hurricane, if I have to pick one.

Per Google Map, timing saving going through LA/AL vs. going through AR/TN is only about 45 minutes.

I don't know how it happened 2 years ago, but we felt pretty silly getting stuck on the road with flood and hurricane in LA, when we drove from Houston to Florida.
 
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There are not many gas stations on the Blue Ridge Parkway but there are plenty right off the Parkway on the side roads which are many. The Parkway is sometimes foggy and when it is, it is usually pretty thick - might be able to see 15 feet or so. The pull-offs along the Parkway are also numerous and tripods most likely OK Haven't been up there in a while and the speed limit used to be 45 but in places you'd be hard pressed to do the limit. The BRP is 469 miles long and the Skyline Drive is 105 miles long with a speed limit of 35. Think the Rangers will let you fudge a little but it is most likely very little, never did push it myself.
Newfound Gap in the Smokies has a large parking area and some good photographic opportunities also. Think that is where you turn to go to Clingman's Dome.
Another place you might want to check out is Mount Mitchell in NC, the highest point east of the Mississippi. Think they have lodging and gas available there also.
Don't plan on over 100 miles a day on the BRP with the speed limit and all the pull-offs that you will probably want to check out. There is lodging at the north end of the BRP at Wayneboro, VA and at the north end of the Skyline Drive at Front Royal.
Have fun and be safe.
 
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BosseBe

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I have no more than 13 days to drive from Houston to Boston (likely leaving on Aug 14/15 and arriving at Boston on Aug 27/28). On the way, I want to visit:

Clingmans Dome (Great Smoky Mountain National Park),
Blue Ridge Parkway (starting at https://www.google.se/maps/dir/35.5056073,-83.3007718//@35.500821,-83.3105565,15z/data=!4m2!4m1!3e0 )
Skyline Drive (Shenandoah National Park)

Then drive directly to Boston and live/work there for at least 2 years (or forever).

Please kindly share your tips (Do's and Do Not's) about those 3 attractions. For example, is tripod allowed at Clingmans Dome? Are there reasonable amount of gas stations and resting spots long Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive? I assume the answers are yes, yes and yes, but would like a confirmation.

I know I should wait for an hour or so, if fog is too heavy at Clingmans Dome. As for the rest of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, I have looked at TripAdviser photos of Roaring Fork, Cades Cove, Laurel Falls and decided to save them for next trip.

I have also looked at tourist photos taken from all attractions mentioned in my previous thread and have decided to skip all of the follwing on my short list (and save them for next trip):

Talladega National Forest
Chattahoochee National Forest
Nantahala National Forest
Pisgah National Forest
Cherokee National Forest
Front Royal
Roan Mountain State Park
Grayson Highlands State Park
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Do you strongly believe that I am skipping too much, in view of my 13 days' of time allowance? Or my plan sounds about right, in your opinion?

I prefer concentrating my limited time on Great Smoky Mountain NP and Shenandoah NP; if I have to add something, I will probably only add the Grayson Highlands State Park, as I like those wild ponies.

To drive from Houston to Clingmans Dome, I will NOT drive through Louisiana for fear of flood and hurricane. I will drive along Highway 59, to Nacogdoches, to Texarkana, then take Hwy 30, to Little Rock, AK, then Hwy 40, to Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville, TN (https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Hou...ea92dac4f534c5!2m2!1d-83.9207392!2d35.9606384).

Is there a faster or more scenic route to drive to Clingmans Dome from Houston, without going through Louisiana?

From Knoxville, I will drive along Hwy 441 and 321 to Clingmans Dome, then to Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive.

Google suggested two ways to drive from Shenandoah National Park to Boston. I am guessing the northern route may have less traffic?
https://www.google.se/maps/dir/Shen...7cbf240162e8a0!2m2!1d-71.0588801!2d42.3600825

Thank you very much!
I guess from your post that you are not used to do long road trips?
If you are ignore this answer.

You have 13 days to do the drive, it is about 1600 miles as the birds fly.
About 1900 miles along the shortest route (according to Google Maps).
Between 2000 to 3000 miles (guesstimate and 3000 is kind of extreme) for the route you are taking with exploring along the route.

You have 13 days for this, that is plenty!

If you drive 3000 miles for this trip and take 3 rest days (local exploring), it is 300 miles per day!
300 miles / 55 mph (average speed) gives you a driving time per day of about 6 hours a day.
Yes, BRP and Skyline drive will lower your average speed a fair bit, but there are the 3 rest days to use for that.
AFAIK, professional drivers (truck drivers) drive 8 hours a day so 6 hours is not to bad, gives you a chance to take a couple of hours off to explore each day.

Have a nice trip!
 

zzffnn

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I guess from your post that you are not used to do long road trips?
If you are ignore this answer.

You have 13 days to do the drive, it is about 1600 miles as the birds fly.
About 1900 miles along the shortest route (according to Google Maps).
Between 2000 to 3000 miles (guesstimate and 3000 is kind of extreme) for the route you are taking with exploring along the route.

You have 13 days for this, that is plenty!

If you drive 3000 miles for this trip and take 3 rest days (local exploring), it is 300 miles per day!
300 miles / 55 mph (average speed) gives you a driving time per day of about 6 hours a day.
Yes, BRP and Skyline drive will lower your average speed a fair bit, but there are the 3 rest days to use for that.
AFAIK, professional drivers (truck drivers) drive 8 hours a day so 6 hours is not to bad, gives you a chance to take a couple of hours off to explore each day.

Have a nice trip!
@BosseBe ,

No, I am not used to driving long road trips at all. Have only done one (Houston to Pensacola, Florida) in my whole life.

Please kindly let me know, what is the best way to get turn-by-turn driving direction from Google Map, going from start of Blue Ridge Parkway to end of Skyline Drive? I see that BRP has a phone app that does connect with Google Map interactively and have tried it on my phone. Is that what you would use? Are there road signs that clearly says "Blue Ridge Parkway"? Google Map does not show the exact route by itself, with the BRP app's help.

Your calculations make me understand it much better. I can definitely drive 6 hrs a day, if not 7 or 8.
 
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@BosseBe ,

No, I am not used to driving long road trips at all. Have only done one (Houston to Pensacola, Florida) in my whole life.

Please kindly let me know, what is the best way to get turn-by-turn driving direction from Google Map, going from start of Blue Ridge Parkway to end of Skyline Drive? I see that BRP has a phone app that does connect with Google Map interactively.

Your calculations make me understand it much better. I can definitely drive 6 hrs a day and I probably do not need 3 rest days.
Do you belong to AAA? A good Road Atlas will be handy and you won't get lost on the BRP since it goes straight through all the way to Waynesboro, VA. When you have to get off for lodging or gas is when the maps will come in handy.
You'll probably want to go up through Knoxville, Tennessee and take the highway from there over to Gatlinburg and that will take you on through the Smokies to Newfound Gap and Clingman's Dome then on the Cherokee and then to the BRP.
 
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Do you belong to AAA? A good Road Atlas will be handy and you won't get lost on the BRP since it goes straight through all the way to Waynesboro, VA. When you have to get off for lodging or gas is when the maps will come in handy.
You'll probably want to go up through Knoxville, Tennessee and take the highway from there over to Gatlinburg and that will take you on through the Smokies to Newfound Gap and Clingman's Dome then on the Cherokee and then to the BRP.
The 100 miles a day is taking all day counting the stops at overlooks and picture taking and there are numerous opportunities for that. Just take your time and enjoy it.
 

zzffnn

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Do you belong to AAA? A good Road Atlas will be handy and you won't get lost on the BRP since it goes straight through all the way to Waynesboro, VA. When you have to get off for lodging or gas is when the maps will come in handy.
You'll probably want to go up through Knoxville, Tennessee and take the highway from there over to Gatlinburg and that will take you on through the Smokies to Newfound Gap and Clingman's Dome then on the Cherokee and then to the BRP.
Thank you very much @Shadetree . Google Map is very clear about how to get to the start of Blue Ridge Parkway and my route before that. It is the BRP itself and its connection to Skyline Dr that is not clear to me. It sounds like I would not get lost (by much :cautious:) on BRP, based on what you said above.

Yes, I have AAA membership and know they give out maps. I don't enjoy reading maps though.
 
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Perfect! A Civic will do well on the BRP with all the hills and curves on the NC end of it - you'll have lots of fun with that.
The transition from the BRP to the Skyline Drive occurs when they cross I-64 near Waynesboro, VA and there should be some lodging near there. When are you going? If you have time you might want to contact the Blue Ridge Parkway folks and they will send you a map and some up-to-date info.
 

zzffnn

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Should I use the Front Royal (north entrance) for Shenandoah National Park?

Front Royal (North Entrance)
Near Front Royal, Virginia, off Route 340 (also called Stonewall Jackson Highway)
GPS Coordinates: 38.905729, -78.198624
Front Royal on Google Maps

Thornton Gap
East of Luray, Virginia and west of Sperryville, Virginia, off Highway 211 (also called Lee Highway)
GPS Coordinates: 38.660959, -78.320761
Thornton Gap on Google Maps

Swift Run Gap
Physical address: 22591 Spotswood Trail, Elkton, VA
GPS Coordinates: 38.366176, -78.578864
Swift Run Gap on Google Maps

Rockfish Gap (South Entrance)
A few miles east of Waynesboro, Virginia off Highway 250
GPS Coordinates: 38.033777, -78.85902
Rockfish Gap on Google Maps

Since Skyline Dr is the only public road for Shenandoah National Park, I should not get lost, I think.

I am starting on Aug 14th from Houston. There is some more time for research.
 
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Actually, the Skyline Drive runs through the Shenandoah National Park and it appears on Google Maps that it is the main road through there and it would be really hard to get lost.
You'll probably want to stop at Mabry Mill and take a few shots.
 
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When you get to the upper end of the Skyline Drive you might want to take a jaunt up to Harper's Ferry, definitely worth the time if you have it. It's one of those places that people visit several times and always ready to go back.
 

BosseBe

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@BosseBe ,

No, I am not used to driving long road trips at all. Have only done one (Houston to Pensacola, Florida) in my whole life.

Please kindly let me know, what is the best way to get turn-by-turn driving direction from Google Map, going from start of Blue Ridge Parkway to end of Skyline Drive? I see that BRP has a phone app that does connect with Google Map interactively and have tried it on my phone. Is that what you would use? Are there road signs that clearly says "Blue Ridge Parkway"? Google Map does not show the exact route by itself, with the BRP app's help.

Your calculations make me understand it much better. I can definitely drive 6 hrs a day, if not 7 or 8.
When I do road trips I always bring a GPS.
(Nowadays as an App on my android tablet (a Samsung Galaxy Note "something", with a 8 inch screen), the App I use is Sygic)
It is mounted to the front window, this is because I do my trips alone. I don't have anyone to act as navigator!

Every evening I plan the next days route on my laptop using Google Maps.
There is no good (simple) way to transfer the route to the Sygic App on the Tablet so I basically replicate the route on the tablet by entering start and end points and then adding necessary waypoints to get the App to show the route I want.

Yes, this takes some time but I think it is well worth it as I know the GPS-App will guide me the way I want.

The reason I use the App on the Tablet is that I don't want to rely on having mobile connection to the internet when I drive, the tablet does not have a mobile connection only WiFi and GPS.
So if I need new maps I download them in my hotel room in the evening as needed.

I would suggest that you try out your mode of navigation before you go, try it to and from work or on other drives and see how it works.
Don't try to read a physical map while driving!
 

zzffnn

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I use Sygic and Google Map quite a lot on my phone. Google Map tens to be better (Sygic made a few mistakes before; had wrong street address for example), when connection is solid. If not, I use Sygic.

I think I stopped using physical maps about 12 years ago and always use a GPS.
 

exakta

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It is the BRP itself and its connection to Skyline Dr that is not clear to me. It sounds like I would not get lost (by much :cautious:) on BRP, based on what you said above.
It is a continuous road, no directions are needed once you are on the BRP. You only need directions if you plan getting off and on.
 
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