Will the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Bluffs Lodge ever Reopen?

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The Bluffs Lodge is one of the three “motels” actually on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Surprisingly it has been closed for the past couple of years — a victim of its relative age, the Sequestration, and the inability of the National Park Service to find anyone willing to operate it. My wife and I stayed there on our honeymoon, and found it to be a great representation of what travel must have been like in the classic era of the 50s-60s.

Bluffs Lodge 1

The Bluffs Lodge is located in a pastoral region along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo by Angela Williams

The lodge was clean, the surrounding Doughton Park region was beautiful, and the rooms featured the largest closets I’ve ever seen in a hotel. Maybe someone will come to their senses and reopen the place soon? Here is a review of Bluffs Lodge I wrote a few years back — check out my reviews of the Peaks of Otter Lodge and the Pisgah Inn as well.

Bluffs Lodge is the most retro of the three hotels along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Looking like a classic motor lodge dropped into a scene of pastoral beauty, the Bluffs overlooks parkway land that is a leased to a local farmer.

Located at mile marker 241 of the BRP, Bluffs Lodge is part of Doughton Park, a parkway recreation area named for Robert Lee Doughton, a North Carolina politician and benefactor of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Doughton Park also features miles of hiking trails, camping, and other outdoor activities.

Bluffs Lodge Features

  • 24 Rooms (no TV/Phone)
  • Bluffs Restaurant
  • Gift Shop
  • Pet-Friendly Rooms Available
  • Patio with Outdoor Fireplace

Pastoral Retreat in the North Carolina Mountains

Doughton Park and the Bluffs area feature an interesting history. In the early 20th Century, the area was a thriving mountain community known as Basin Cove. A devastating flood in 1916 changed all that, and the area stayed dormant until Robert Doughton purchased much of the surrounding land in the 1930s as the Blue Ridge Parkway was being developed.

Bluffs Lodge 2

The Bluffs Lodge is a classic 50s style motorlodge. Photo by Angela Williams.

A trail next to the lodge leads to the Wildcat Rocks, which sports an overlook into the old Basin Cove area where an older cabin is still visible as a remnant of a long lost mountain life. Another more strenuous trail leads down into old Basin Cove offering a closer view of Caudill Cabin.

The surrounding beauty of Doughton Park is breathtaking. Some of the parkway land here is leased to local farmers, so it isn’t surprising to wake up at Bluffs Lodge finding cows grazing peacefully outside the window. Some of the lodge’s comfortable rooms face the meadow and mountains, while the other half face the parking lot. Obviously, it is worth the extra price for a mountain view room.

A Classic Restaurant Along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Bluffs Restaurant is located on the opposite side of the parkway from the lodge’s access road. Built in the 1950s at the same time as the lodge, it is a classic-styled restaurant that features waitstaff that have worked there since it first opened. There is also a gift shop in the same building as the restaurant as well as an adjacent camp store that services the nearby campground.

Doughton Park’s miles of hiking trails offer fun for hikers of all experience levels. No visit to Bluffs Lodge would be complete without checking out Brinegar Cabin. Located a couple miles before the lodge’s access road, the photogenic Brinegar Cabin was the homestead for Martin Brinegar’s family from the late 1800s until the 1930s when the family sold out to the National Park Service before the Blue Ridge Parkway was built.

Brinegar Cabin

The Blue Ridge Parkway’s unforgettable Brinegar Cabin. Photo by Angela Williams.

Bluffs Lodge is recommended to anyone traveling the BRP, or for couples looking for a romantic North Carolina mountain getaway. The pastoral beauty of the Doughton Park area has delighted parkway travelers for years.

William Lord’s books on the Blue Ridge Parkway — listed below — are highly recommended.

11 comments for “Will the Blue Ridge Parkway’s Bluffs Lodge ever Reopen?

  1. Andy
    April 20, 2014 at 8:20 PM

    Some of my early memories include the beautiful area of Doughton Park. Sharing a great meal with family and friends in the Bluff’s restaurant and talking with many of the wonderful people that worked there for many years. We certainly miss “Sparky”, Bill and Evelyn Smith and the rest of the staff that were so sincere in their willingness to ensure you had a great experience while dining. Though I am fortunate to have these great memories, I remain hopeful that the restaurant and the lodge will open once again to continue the tradition of families having the opportunity of escaping from the stresses of life for just a weekend, to build wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.
    Though I hold out hope that this area would be revitalized, it seems as though the financial commitment that the federal government requires from any interested party willing to manage will remain a hurdle that most will not be financially capable. Federal Government needs to think outside the box and apply some energies towards ensuring this area continues to be an oasis for those travelers that truly enjoy creating memories in a beautiful area.

    • Paul Williams
      April 25, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      Thanks for your comment. I was honestly shocked when I saw that the Bluffs had closed. Maybe the State themselves can help out, even though the BRP is a federal property?

  2. Jim Isley
    September 9, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    Where can one find a list of the financial obligations along with the tyrannical requirements of our Federal Government to reopen the lodge and restaurant? I’ve heard rumors but haven’t been able to acquire any facts.

    Hopeful and interested,

    • Jan
      May 7, 2015 at 11:37 PM

      Hi, Jim,

      The best way to find out would probably be to email or call the National Park Service. http://www.nps.gov is the main site, and you can narrow it to the Blue Ridge Parkway and use the contacts listed there.

      We spent part of our honeymoon there, and we would dearly love to return and hike and relax (and eat)!

      Best of luck!

  3. John Ward & Rita Doughton
    September 29, 2014 at 6:17 AM

    We are both very disappointed to see that Bluffs Lodge is closed. We stayed there in the early 1990’s
    and it was a very nice place. We hope that one day it will regain it’s place as a classic ‘rest’ lodge. We
    wish you well and will watch for any results. Regards, John and Rita Ward, nee-(Doughton)…..

  4. Jan Wickline
    May 7, 2015 at 11:11 PM

    My husband and I spent part of our honeymoon at the Bluffs Lodge, and we loved returning there every so often to relax and get away from the busy world. The meadow hike in the morning was spectacular, and the restaurant was excellent. We really miss being able to go back there and revisit such a special place! Hopefully, someone will be willing to reopen it soon.

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