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America’s “Favorite Drive,” the Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, and the Biltmore Estate

Program Number: 18143RJ
Start and End Dates:
9/8/2013 - 9/13/2013;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Black Mountain, North Carolina
Price starting at: $699.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: History & Culture
Meals: 12; 5 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Come and enjoy the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina with us! Journey along the Blue Ridge Parkway, "America's Favorite Drive," and discover the natural scenic beauty of our mountains and forests along the way. Explore Asheville, a cosmopolitan area rich in art, culture and history, a city that has been an international destination for statesmen and the wealthy since the 1800s. Enjoy the magnificent Biltmore Estate and George Vanderbilt's chateau, Linville Caverns, Looking Glass Falls, Mt. Mitchell and much, much more!


• Enjoy magnificent vistas as we journey along the Blue Ridge Parkway, “America’s Favorite Drive.” Visit Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, and venture inside Humpback Mountain on a guided visit of Linville Caverns.
• Visit the Cradle of Forestry and learn about the birthplace of forest conservation in America. Enjoy the beauty of Looking Glass Falls, one of North Carolina's most scenic waterfalls
• Marvel at the splendor of the nation’s largest private home, the Biltmore Estate, home to priceless art collections and other artifacts dating back as far as the Ming Dynasty. Stroll through the beautiful gardens, visit the estate conservatory and enjoy wine-tasting at the Biltmore Estate Winery.

Activity Particulars

Walking up to two miles on field trips.

Date Specific Information


Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.

Coordinated by Mars Hill University.

Black Mountain

Tucked into the glorious mountains of Western North Carolina, Black Mountain is an ideal location to take advantage of the history, culture and natural environs of Asheville and the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. Its historic downtown features local craftsmen demonstrating iron works, dulcimer making and hand-thrown pottery.

Conference center with glass-enclosed dining room offering beautiful views of mountain splendor and lush woods.
Meals and Lodgings
   Blue Ridge Assembly- Blue Ridge Center
  Blue Ridge Assembly 5 nights
 Blue Ridge Assembly- Blue Ridge Center
Type: Conference Center
  Description: Lodge has all the modern facilities, plus a nice lobby with a large fireplace, glass enclosed dining area to frame the beautiful views, hotel type rooms with private baths, and an elevator. All activities are in the same building. A television room is on the first floor, and for all the "early risers" there is plenty of coffee available in the lobby each morning. Wi-Fi is available for guests as well. Two laptop computers are set up in the meeting room for individuals to surf the internet and check e-mail during free times.
  Contact info: 84 Blue Ridge Circle
Black Mountain, NC 28711 USA
phone: 828-669-8422
  Room amenities: Telephones, private baths, clock radio.
  Facility amenities: Tennis courts and mountain trails
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Check in time: 4:00 PM
  Check out time: 10:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Blue Ridge Assembly Check-in 3:00pm You will be staying at Blue Ridge Assembly- Blue Ridge Center that night.
  End of Program:
Blue Ridge Assembly 10:30am You will be staying at Blue Ridge Assembly- Blue Ridge Center the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Free parking available
To Start of Program
  Location:  Blue Ridge Assembly
  Nearest city or town:  Black Mountain/Asheville, NC
  Nearest highway: I-40
  Nearest airport:  Asheville, NC
  From End of Program
  Location: Blue Ridge Assembly
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Asheville Regional


From Airport




Black Mtn. Cab Company
phone: 828-230-1121
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


call for rates
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


.05 hours (1/2) 




20 miles


Please call Black Mountain Cab Company to arrange ground transportation from the airport or bus station to the Blue Ridge Assembly Conference Center. All transportation arrangements must be made directly by the participant prior to your arrival. Please inquire about the Mars Hill College/YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly discount.


Asheville Regional


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Airport Ground Transportation
phone: 828-209-3660
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


30 minutes 


The Airport Ground Transportation desk is conveniently located in the Baggage Claim area of the Asheville Regional Airport. Whether your destination is local or in one of the surrounding counties, taxi cab service can be obtained at the Ground Transportation desk. For Ground Transportation service, call 828-209-3660

Driving Directions
  Asheville, NC YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly is located approximately 14 miles east of Asheville, NC. Follow I-40 E to exit 64 - (Black Mountain/Montreat exit) and turn south onto Highway 9 at the end of the exit ramp. Proceed 0.5 mile to the fork in the road and veer right onto Blue Ridge Road. Drive 0.9 miles and look for the YMCA sign on your left. Turn onto Blue Ridge Assembly drive and proceed to the end of the road and our entrance. Please note, once on our property, the roads are all one-way.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Check-in and pick up program materials, orientation, and reception to meet the staff and your new friends.
(Sunday, September 8)
 Arrive To: After a short drive on the beautiful wooded entrance road you will check-in to your room at the Blue Ridge Assembly Conference Center. Check-in begins at 3:00pm. Early arrivals may opt to relax and enjoy the comfortable lobby. Taking a leisurely walk around the landscaped grounds and streams is also an option. For the more adventurous, there are marked trails to hike. Guided trail maps are available at the customer service desk. Program registration begins in the Conference Center Lobby at 4:30pm.
 Dinner: Dinner this evening is in the Blue Ridge Assembly Dining Hall, a facility with large windows giving beautiful views of the wooded areas outside. All meals will be in this facility unless noted otherwise.
 Evening: Dinner will be followed by a program orientation meeting and a reception, getting the week kicked off in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. We will go over the schedule and answer any questions about the week. Participants will receive written materials to enhance their educational experience. An informal reception will be held in the Conference Center Lobby, providing you an opportunity to wind down from your day and get acquainted with your new friends.
Accommodations: Blue Ridge Assembly- Blue Ridge Center
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: A day of adventure on the Blue Ridge Parkway!!
(Monday, September 9)

Note: Touring the Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Caverns, Mount Mitchell and the Folk Art Center

 Breakfast: All you can eat breakfast buffet, with hot and cold food items.
 Morning: This morning we'll tour parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway to the North of Asheville. En route, the video "The Blue Ridge Parkway - America's Favorite Journey" will provide insight into the construction of the parkway as well as highlight some of the natural and cultural heritage of the area. Our first stop will be Linville Caverns where we'll venture inside Humpback Mountain for a unique educational experience, learning first-hand about the geological make-up of the surrounding mountains. We will then continue on to Little Switzerland where we'll have a wonderful lunch.
 Lunch: Lunch in Little Switzerland, NC
 Afternoon: After lunch, you may choose to visit some of the craft shops in the quaint village of Little Switzerland or simply take a short stroll and enjoy the cool mountain breeze. We then head south on the parkway we'll stop at Mt. Mitchell State Park, the first state park of North Carolina, established in 1915. Mount Mitchell, with an elevation of 6,684 feet is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. While there, we'll enjoy a brief lecture by a park ranger, tour the exhibit center and take a short hike to the park's observation deck that affords a 360 degree span of spectacular views. Our final stop of the day will be at the Blue Ridge Parkway's Folk Art Center, home to the Southern Highland Craft Guild.
 Dinner: Full buffet dinner at the Blue Ridge Assembly
 Evening: This evening a local historian will present a program on the unique and beautiful city of Asheville, North Carolina, in preparation for tomorrow's visit.
Accommodations: Blue Ridge Assembly- Blue Ridge Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Gray Line Historical Trolley Tour of Asheville
(Tuesday, September 10)

Note: Learn about the history, culture and architecture of Asheville aboard a Gray Line trolley, then enjoy the remainder of the day visiting the sites of your choice.

 Breakfast: Full breakfast buffet.
 Morning: This morning learn about Asheville's early settlers, famous citizens and authors aboard the historic Gray Line Trolley. You'll also learn of the architecture, the history and the arts that make Asheville a very unique and special place.
 Lunch: Enjoy lunch on your own at one of the many eating establishments in downtown Asheville.
 Afternoon: This afternoon enjoy the hop-on and hop-off services of the Gray Line Trolley. Visit the sites that you want to see..., the River Arts District, Pack Square, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, the Grove Arcade... you decide. Simply hop-on and hop-off at the designated stops along the tour route. Trolleys run throughout the day and pick up in 30 minute intervals.
 Dinner: Dinner at the Blue Ridge Assembly
 Evening: Evening cultural presentation
Accommodations: Blue Ridge Assembly- Blue Ridge Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Another day of exploration in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina!
(Wednesday, September 11)

Note: Tour the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education; Stop at the scenic Looking Glass Falls; Tour the Cradle of Forestry; Travel another section of the Blue Ridge Parkway

 Breakfast: Full breakfast buffet.
 Morning: Today we'll spend another wonderful day exploring the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. We'll make our first stop at the Pisgah Center for Wildlife Education where exhibits and programs focus on the wildlife and habitat of this southern Appalachian region. Looking Glass Falls will be out next stop on our journey. Looking Glass is one of the state's best known and photographed waterfalls, being one of two hundred fifty that make up this "Land of Waterfalls." After a delightful picnic we'll visit the Cradle of Forestry, a 6,500 acre historic site within the Pisgah National Forest. We'll learn about the birthplace of forest conservation in America through exhibits and a guided tour of the Biltmore campus, restored historic buildings representative of the first school of forestry.
 Lunch: Picnic Lunch in the Pisgah National Forest
 Afternoon: Early afternoon we will continue our exploration of the Cradle of Forestry. We'll have an opportunity to hike the Forest Festival Trail to see the old sawmill, a 1915 restored locomotive and many other interesting exhibits pertaining to forestry. From there, we'll travel to the top of the mountain where we'll begin our travel on another section of the Blue Ridge Parkway that descends into Asheville.
 Dinner: Full dinner buffet.
 Evening: After dinner we will view a wonderful presentation on the Biltmore Estate and Gardens, giving us a glimpse into tomorrow's visit.
Accommodations: Blue Ridge Assembly- Blue Ridge Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Spend the day exploring the beautiful Biltmore Estate.
(Thursday, September 12)

Note: Self-guided tour through the château; walk through the gardens and conservatory; visit the estate winery and other exhibits at Antler Hill Village

 Breakfast: Full breakfast dinner.
 Morning: After breakfast, we'll depart for the Biltmore Estate to get a glimpse into the lifestyle of George Vanderbilt. We'll spend our morning visiting the 250-room château, America's largest privately-owned home where you will view priceless, carefully preserved artworks and furnishings.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own at the Biltmore Estate, with selections ranging from sandwiches to the gourmet lunches at the Stable Cafe Restaurant.
 Afternoon: Our afternoon continues on the estate with an opportunity to walk through the beautiful estate gardens and visit the conservatory. Mid-afternoon, well depart for Antler Hill Village, home of the estate winery. The first vineyards were planted in 1971 and eight years later in 1979, the first bottle of wine was sold. You'll have an opportunity to tour the winery complex and enjoy a complimentary wine-tasting. Besides the winery, the village includes many historical exhibits and shops for your enjoyment.
 Dinner: Full dinner buffet.
 Evening: Free evening. Opportunity to visit some of the many local points of interest or prepare for departure on Friday. Optional activity will be provided.
Accommodations: Blue Ridge Assembly- Blue Ridge Center
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 6: Final presentation (includes information about Christmas at the Biltmore Estate) and departure
(Friday, September 13)
 Breakfast: Full breakfast buffet.
 Morning: Final presentation: Christmas at the Biltmore Estate, followed by wrap-up question and answer time, passport stamps, and check-out. Approximate end time is 10:30 AM.
Meals Included: Breakfast

Free Time Opportunities
  Blue Ridge Assembly Airport Ground Transportation
For information regarding ground travel to and from Asheville Regional Airport please see the enclosed website. or for Ground Transportation service, call 828-209-3660 For additional information, visit
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway

Author: Logue

Description: A guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway, highlighting mileposts with significant points of interest, locations of tunnels, overlooks and waterfalls as well as key entry and exit locations. Book includes a brief history, geological information as well as an extensive wildflower bloom calendar.

Asheville Mountain Majesty

Author: LouHarshaw

Description: "Sometimes called the Paris of the South, Asheville is known for its grand mountain views, rich and diverse culture, deep-rooted artistic heritage, historical architecture, and the legendary Biltmore Estate. Author Lou Harshaw - historian, teacher, lecturer, and lifelong resident of Asheville - gives a firsthand look at the history and development of this magnificent city by drawing upon a host of historical sources and an extensive oral tradition. The result is a journey through time that documents the emergence and evolution of one of America's most attractive and intriguing cities."

Lady on the Hill: How Biltmore Estate Became an American Icon

Author: Howard E. Covington Jr.

Description: From Publishers Weekly: Set amid thousands of lushly landscaped acres in the North Carolina mountains, the Biltmore estate is a 250-room Gilded Age mansion stuffed to the rafters with objets d'art. Writing a very authorized business history rather than an architectural appreciation, journalist Covington celebrates the estate's transformation from quasifeudal folly to lucrative tourist mecca. Built in 1895 by George Vanderbilt, who played lord of the manor to hundreds of tenant farmers and servants, the estate passed in the 1960s to his grandson William Cecil, whose tight-fisted budgets, canny marketing initiatives and rapt attention to customer service turned it into a profitable museum of robber-baron privilege, selling more tickets than Colonial Williamsburg. The author's sycophantic account of this not unduly exciting saga is mainly a tribute to Cecil, who wrote the afterword. Covington defends the Biltmore owner's model of private, for-profit historical preservation against charges of commercialism leveled by nonprofit preservationists, repeats his complaints about inheritance taxes, extols his entrepreneurial daring, salutes his Biltmore restoration projects ("surpassed what many had seen anywhere") and raves about "customer satisfaction reports... comparable to those enjoyed by a five-star resort." This anodyne hospitality-industry success story will find a place in the Biltmore gift shop, but probably nowhere else. (Mar.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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