Craggy Gardens is an exquisite stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway, high up in the Great Craggy Mountains. Its mile-high peaks are located to the north of Asheville climbing over 3,500 feet in elevation.
The Craggies are known for the exposed surfaces, or “balds,” found at this high altitude. What makes Craggy Gardens extra special, though, is the source of the second part of its name: the show-stopping display of colorful wildflowers that bloom along these high slopes.
The star of this floral landscape is the native Catawba rhododendron. In the springtime, the large pink and purple blossoms blanket the green mountain with color. A gnarled thicket of tall rhododendron bushes twist and bend into natural tunnels that arch over the winding trails leading to the summit. The effect is like something out of a fairytale.
These floral canopies dot the popular Craggy Pinnacle Trail along its short path to the summit, where the scenery only gets more spectacular. The high peaks offer 360-degree vistas over the Southern Appalachians.
Know Before You Go
The rhododendron tunnels can be seen along the Craggy Pinnacle Trail. Drive past the Visitor Center to the “Craggy Dome” upper parking lot at Milepost 364.1 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The trail head is on the left, indicated by a sign. The hike is about 1.4 miles round trip to the summit, Craggy Pinnacle.
The best time to visit is in June when the rhododendrons are in full bloom.