Message from the Park Superintendent

As I approach my second full season as the Blue Ridge Parkway superintendent, I’m reminded of a number of things that apply to this special place and to all parks and public lands. I know they are true because I see them on a regular basis when I’m out interacting with visitors, park staff, or spending time in the many communities throughout the Parkway corridor. These may be things that you have realized or thought of yourself, or they may be new ideas, especially if you are new to the Parkway.

First, I’m reminded of the incredible opportunities the Parkway offers all of us to explore, to recreate, and in many ways, to find renewal. One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is the occasions I have to talk to visitors. And during the course of these last two years, at overlooks, on trails, or at music concerts, I have met visitors who have a destination in mind. They know before they leave home which trail, which district, which campground, or which community they are going to in order to find that renewal or recreational opportunity. On the other hand, many visitors I engage with discover that place after they arrive. These are the true “explorers” of the Parkway who happen upon a view or a an overlook that has just the right elements – maybe the sun’s shadow, a rainbow, the crisp and clear atmosphere, or the opportunity to see a soaring hawk or a new born fawn.

Secondly, I have long been aware of the unsurpassed value of the educational opportunities that the Parkway offers to visitors of all ages – the students – who do another kind of exploration among the cultural and natural history stories that are protected within the Parkway corridor. These educational opportunities outside of the traditional classroom may happen during a conversation with one of our staff members, participating in a demonstration of traditional crafts at a place like Brinegar Cabin, or cuddling up at the evening campfire with an Appalachian novel purchased in one of our visitor centers. Education and learning are an exciting and sometimes fun by-product of a visit to places like the Parkway.

Finally, I am thrilled to be a part of protecting parks and doing my part in conveying the value and importance of such places to our nation and to the generations yet born. I think of the words of Margaret Murie that “surely America is not so poor that it can’t afford such places as national parks, nor so rich that it can do without them.” I am grateful for the role the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation plays in the protection of the Parkway. The ongoing support of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation and its Community of Stewards is important and makes a tremendous difference in achieving the mission of the Parkway.

Enjoy your Parkway journey.

Mark H. Woods