Animals of the Blue Ridge Parkway

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Many people explore the Blue Ridge Parkway for the flora, but let’s not forget about the fauna, as well! The parkway is home to some absolutely amazing creatures, each beautiful in his or her uniqueness.

One can find 42 different species of amphibians along the trails, and of course, this includes the salamander. According to the National Park Service, the Southern Appalachians are the “center of salamander diversity on earth.” Not only that, but the Blue Ridge Parkway is at the “heart of this zone.” One can also find more than 250 species of birds along the parkway, including bobolinks, eastern meadowlarks, American kestrels, great blue herons, kingfishers, and peregrine falcons. This is an ideal setting for the avid bird-watcher! Along with amphibians and birds, the Blue Ridge Parkway is also home to 50 different species of fish, 22 species of snakes, and 7 species of turtles.

Spring is still a couple months away, so many of these animals are most likely staying warm in a deep hibernation,. This, however, doesn’t mean that the forests are entirely devoid of wildlife! The white-tailed deer are as active as ever, and you may even catch a glimpse of them right outside your room at the Iris Inn. Gray squirrels also remain prevalent throughout the year, scampering across the woods with impish drive.

Photo by Richard Seaman

Just remember, though, if you’re planning to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway during the winter months, be sure to stay up-to-date with weather related closures: “The most up to date closing information about the Blue Ridge Parkway can be accessed by calling (828) 298-0398, 24 hours a day.  You may also find some closing information on the National Park Service website: http://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/roadclosures.htm.”