Beginning in Virginia, the Parkway follows the Blue Ridge Mountains for the first 355 miles. Then it skirts the southern end of the massive Black Mountains, named for the dark green spruce and fir that cover them, weaves through the Craggies, the Pisgahs, the Balsams, and ends in the Great Smokies. The flora of the Blue Ridge Parkway is so diverse because of its variable climate, large north-south geographic range, diverse geology, and the many different habitats that are protected here. More than 1,400 species of vascular plants occur in the park.
Spruce-fir forests at the highest elevations are more typical of forests found hundreds of miles to the north. In the moist coves and hollows at mid- to low-elevations are mixed hardwoods, and in the driest, hottest sites can be found the oak-pine forests.
Given the wide range in elevation from high peak to low valley, park visitors can enjoy a tremendous variety of wildflowers throughout the spring, summer, and fall months. While the summer wildflowers are blooming in the valleys, the spectacular spring wildflowers are just beginning to bloom on the high peaks. The following showy wildflowers are commonly found from May to August: Turk?s Cap Lily, Pink Lady’s Slipper, Evening Primrose, Bee Balm, and Fire Pink.