Bluffs Lodge Along The Blue Ridge Parkway Shuttered For 2011

Lack of a concessionaire means the 24-room Bluffs Lodge and its coffee shop along the Blue Ridge Parkway will not open this year. Top photo by David and Kay Scott, coffee shop photo courtesy of Forever Resorts.

Bluffs Lodge, one of four lodging facilities along the Blue Ridge Parkway, will be closed for the 2011 season.

The lodge and nearby coffee shop have been managed by Forever Resorts after taking over the contract in 2002 from National Park Concessions. Forever Resorts decided to discontinue its operations on the Blue Ridge Parkway following several years of one-year contract extensions. Forever Resorts was concessionaire at Rocky Knob Cabins, Mabry Mill, and Crabtree Falls in addition to Bluffs and the coffee shop. All are on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Forever Resorts in April 2010 did not renew its concession at Lake Crescent Lodge in Olympic National Park. That property was picked up under a 10-year contact by ARAMARK Parks and Destinations that operates Kalaloch and Sol Duc Hot Springs in the same park. ARAMARK is also concessionaire for Lake Quinault Lodge in neighboring Olympic National Forest.

Bluffs Lodge has experienced several issues, including problems with a new roof and closure of portions of the Blue Ridge Parkway due to construction work on historic rock guardwalls. The parkway is currently closed from milepost 241 to 245.5. Beginning July of this year, the closure is expected to move north to a section between milepost 232.5 and 241. The lodge is at milepost 241. Current construction work on the rock guardwalls is expected to be complete by the spring of 2012.

Capital improvements are not typically made by concessionaires operating on one-year contract extensions, and understandably so. Numerous short-term extensions at the same facility often result in a need for substantial expenditures by either the NPS or a new concessionaire. Contract length has sometimes been a contentious issue between concessionaires and the National Park Service.

According to Lisa Davis, concessions specialist for the Blue Ridge Parkway, it is hoped that Bluffs Lodge and the nearby coffee shop will reopen for the 2012 season under a new concessionaire. Bluffs relatively small size, with only 24 rooms, makes it difficult to operate profitably.

The gift shop at Crabtree Falls (formerly called Crabtree Meadows) will remain open and serve as a bookstore for Eastern National. Snacks and other pre-packaged food items, visitor convenience items, and camping and picnic related items will also be offered for sale.

Rocky Knob Cabins and Mabry Mill will also remain open with a new concessionaire under a temporary two-year contract.

The two of us have stayed at Bluffs Lodge on six or seven occasions and our experiences have always been positive. The rooms are dated, but we view this as part of the appeal, and it certainly blends perfectly with the coffee shop that hasn’t changed much in appearance since its construction in 1948. On one occasion we walked to our room after checking in and discovered a guest from our neighboring room playing a harp on the balcony. You don’t find that at a Holiday Inn.

Here’s hoping a new concessionaire soon comes forth and offers rooms to parkway travelers who enjoy a great place to spend the night.

Comments

What a shame!
The Bluffs Coffee Shop is such a highlight on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail goes right past the coffee shop and was such a welcome stop.
Danny Bernstein
www.hikertohiker.com

We stayed at Bluffs Lodge last fall and enjoyed it very much. I'm sad to hear they won't be opening this year. It really is a great place to stop.

We were devastated by this news. Stopped by Bluffs Lodge every spring for the past 25 years, first on our motorcycle, later by car. Worthy of mention is that two of the waitresses in the coffee shop had worked there since it opened (1949?) and added much charm to the old fashioned atmosphere. This definitely will be a big loss to the experience. Sure hope another operator steps in - and maintains the same late 40's look of the place. If memory serves me, this was the first lodge built on the BRP.

This is a real loss. Although I've stayed in the nearby campground instead of Bluffs Lodge in recent years, the lodge is a wonderful throwback to the Parkway's early days and its plain, simple rooms are part of its charm. The ranger programs on the patio, with the fireplace blazing and a peaceful highland meadow as a backdrop, have offered one of the finest places to gather in the southern Appalachians.

Sad to hear this. One of my favorite "must stops" when traveling that part of the Parkway. Hopefully it reopens next year.

Had just gotten on the internet to see about booking at the Bluffs for our 30th anniversary trip we will take late summer and am so sad to see it has closed. We loved the old rooms and the cool breezes through the windows. This was a truly wonderful place to get away from it all and relax. I also loved the coffee shop. Hope it reopens soon

We have stayed at Bluffs Lodge every fall for over 25 years, and it has been our haven from the over-busy work world - the one place we could get back in touch with ourselves and each other. The unique part of Bluffs Lodge was the fellowship with the other guests. The balconies were open, so you saw your neighbors as they came and went. And best of all was sitting on the patio in the evenings sharing the big stone firepace, swapping stories, and finding out how many parts of the US and other countries we represented.

We hope Bluffs Lodge will reopen with its unique character intact, and that we will once again see Ellen, Katherine, and Eva, along with the "kids" Shannon and Amanda, and all the others.

Oh no!! We were just checking in because our plan was to use our "chicken card" and call ahead for tomorrow for some scrumptious fried chicken!

We too, like the other commenters, just LOVE Bluff's Lodge and are sad to see it closed. I hope it is opened again soon, and that all of us will meet sometime at the fireplace, or over biscuits and jelly.

I have been on every mile on the NC Blue Ridge Parkway and am so luck to also live near it. The Asheville part is great but I am partial to the part of the Parkway near Boone and Blowing Rock. It goes next to Price Park, Grandfather Mountain, and the famous Linn Cove Viaduct.
There are lots of historic cabins, picnic areas, ponds, wildlife, hiking trails, and even gift shops and museums. Whats not to love.


we,ve stayed at bluffs lodge off and on for the 30 yrs we,ve been married; and have given weekend stays as Christmas gifts to my parents. we were planning a day trip up to this area this saturday, and looking forward to lunch at the coffee shop. CLOSING IS UTTERLY HEARTBREAKING

We thought it the best accomodations among the four provided by the NPS on the Blue Ridge. The only hot spot for cells there was the big rock at the end of the wooden fence behind the lodge.

I have organized a large motorcycle trip down the parkway for 12 years now. We love staying at Bluff's Lodge and eating at the coffee shop. It is unfortunate that it has closed for 2011. I understand the BRP closure due to the rock wall renovation, but I don't understand how such a beautiful and secluded place as this can't be profitable for a 24 room resort. Bring Bluffs Lodge back in 2012!!!

Reading all the nice comments concerning Bluffs Lodge
and Bluffs "Coffee Shop" Restaurant makes me smile, but at the same time, I am
saddened that it is not open for the 2011 season. I, as well as fellow staff,
are hoping for the best for the 2012 season. We want our customers to know that
we miss them so much and hope
that we will get the chance to see and visit with you all again soon.

WE ARE SO DISAPPOINTED TO HEAR THAT BLUFFS LODGE AND COFFEE SHOP ARE CLOSED.

HOPEFULLY, SOMEONE WILL REOPEN BOTH FOR THE 2012 SEASON. IT WAS ONE OF OUR

VERY FAVORITE PLACES TO VISIT - SO QUIET AND RELAXING THERE. THE COFFEE SHOP HAD

SUCH GOOD HOME-COOKING.....A FAVORITE WAS COUNTRY HAM.

Shannon~ we miss all of you so very much! Hope to see you in 2012! Have a good Winter and we will see you in the Spring!!!

We, too, miss the Lodge and the restaurant! We have been there opening weekend and closing weekend for many years. Along with day trips just to sit on the patio! We hope a new concessionare can be found and we can meet all of our friends there in the Spring.

My family has been staying at Bluffs Lodge for many years now starting way back with my Grandparents. My folks took me their many times growing up and I even once talked my Dad into hiking down to the cabin when I was 12 or 13. Been back a few times on my own and have been planning another trip in the near future so my youngest daughter can see the place that gives her father so many fond memories. I do hope everything works out and they are back in business for 2012 becuase for a self proclaimed computer geek the lodge is one of the few places I can really enjoy being unplugged. If there is anything those of us who love the Lodge and coffee shop can do to help make sure they are there for our kids please let us know.

I have very good memories of stopping by the restaurant the past twenty years. The cobblers were to die for,the best around,almost as great as my moms,and add vanilla ice cream....YUMMMM. Sure hope to see the openning in 2012! I'll be there with my spoon in hand.

This news is heartbreaking. We used to go to Bluffs Lodge a couple of times each summer when our chidren were young and went to camp in the area. I remember birthdays celebrated in the lodge, watching the wildlife, family hikes, etc. In more recent years, we have gone back in the fall to see the foliage. The food in the restaurant was to die for. It reminded me of breakfasts ad dinners at my grandmother's. I sincerely pray that it will reopen. If not, it will be sorely missed!

I was all primed to head for the Parkway and catch some fall foilage by the light of the full moon tonight. It's only 3 hours from Raleigh. Provided Bluffs Lodge had accomodations. Well, so much for that impulse. I didn't know until I called their phone that something was amiss. Oh, well, maybe next year.

P L E A S E someone re-open this quaint little coffee shop! And go ahead and re-hire the entire staff, because it just won't be the same without the same ladies cooking up those wonderful meals!!! I have to be completely honest...I come from a heritage of great country cooks! (My mama being the absolute BEST, and several aunts not far behind). And I have eaten many, many places in my few travels...but THIS restaurant serves THE BEST breakfast that I have EVER eaten!!!! (And I'm 56 years old) God bless ya'll for all those years of being the BEST!

The stimulus money at work program is the reason for the closure of the BRP in Doughton Park, NC. The lay off of all the employees of the Bluff Cafe, Lodge, closing access to trail heads , all to rebuild the stone guard rails. The original guard rails were built by the labor of skilled workman, no cement. All they need ed was maintenance to correct damage from sevral years of abuse. Just wait til you see this mess, and the waste that is going on is being hidden all for political patronage, payoffs. Shame on you people!

We have stayed at the lodge and always make it a point to stop at the coffee shop . It has been a meeting spot for local friends when we come up from florida each year.PLEASE reopen both as it is a part of the history of the parkway for over 50 years

This is sad news, indeed. My husband and I love Bluffs Lodge, dated though the rooms may be. That is part of the charm of the place. Always clean, too. We have stayed there almost every year for the last 25 years. Please, please reopen for 2012.

We have stayed at the Bluffs several times, and we refer to it as "our most favorite place on earth". It is our prayer that someone will re open the lodge and restaurant. Yes, it is not the Holiday Inn, but we don't want the Holiday Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway, do we????

My brother and I stayed there finally last year after spending many childhood memories at Doughton park..It was a very special weekend right before it closed...Unfortunately my brother died suddenly 1 month later..I am SO glad we had that memory and special time at Bluff's.It was wonderful....PLEASE RE-OPen!!

For over 20 years the Lodge was our favorite stop when traveling the parkway. My wife and I are hoping that some how the Lodge and Coffeshop will be back in Business. It has many wonderful memories for us and our family.

We hate that the Bluffs will once again be closed as the dining venue was easy access for our guests. We have opened Mountain Hearth Lodge at mile post 231.5, just about 10 miles North of the Bluffs. We have 4 beautiful lodge rooms and 3 luxury cabins. Take a look at our web site and we hope to see you traveling the parkway this Spring and Summer. www.mountainhearthlodge.com. We are proud members of the Blue Ridge Parkway Association and The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation as a Parkway Plus member.

We vote to reopen!
20+ years of family reunions here. Great place.

My wife and I are saddened by the closing of The Bluffs, it is one of those "special" places where life memories are made. Is there any new about Aramark possiby reopening or acquiring rights by the spring of 2012. Sure hope someone will open it again.

You can find the same country fried chicken at Buckaroo's Grille
www.buckaroogrille.com
Off the Parkway at MP 248.1

Very sad. My wife and I had to take a slow ride home from the Smokies because she broke her leg and couldn't sit in the car too long so, we decided to drive the parkway and spent the night here. A roaring fire outside, some wine and friendly people were just what we needed!

The chef is now at Buckaroo's Grille. 9531 NC Hwy 93, Piney Creek, NC 336-359-2825. www buckaroogrille.com

There was no sign of RE-opening when i was there on Memorial Day :( and yes i am a "human' visitor (as per your CAPTCHA below, duuuuuuh.

We also road the Parkway all the way from the Virginia side on Memorial day and never saw any construction on the rock walls ! and there was no sign of re-opening either :(

I spent at least one weekend every year at the lodge when growing up. I have taken the opportunity on several occasions as an adult to revisit the lodge and it brings back such special memories. I hope it re-opens soon. It would be a great loss to lovers of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

My family has nearby the restaurant...walked up there this past weekend and there is no sign of anything opening any time soon :(. Sure was nice to wake up on a Saturday morning and walk up to the restaurant for breakfast. Miss that.

We have also stayed at the lodge for many years, ever since we were first married. I hope and pray that it will reopen. The rooms and the view were so special, just the way they were with the cool breeze flowing. We knew all the ladies at the restaurant. The staff there also made it so special.

Bluffs Lodge is one of the gems you find by accident when traveling through an area. A wonderful respite for my wife and I in early August when the temperature at home can be miserable. It is very enjoyable to open a bottle of wine (or two) and need a blanket to keep warm in the dead of Summer. Bluffs Lodge could be run as a psuedo bed and breakfast if there is an entreprenueur with the desire to do so. Hopefully someone with the desire to do so will step forward (soon) and make this happen. Alas another year will slide by that we will not get to enjoy the view and watch the dear frolic in the fields while the sun sets gracefully behind the mountain ridge.

I really miss working at the Bluffs Lodge. I hated that it closed down after I started working their a copy months I miss all the working crew that work their with me. I met some wanderful people that came and stay at the Bluffs.this place is a true place and will be in everyone hearts. I do wish it would open back up.

The cooks are now at Buckaroo's Grille near the parkway.

9531 NC Hwy 93, Piney Creek, NC 28663

336-359-2815

www.buckaroogrille.com

If anything can be screwed up for the tourists, the Blue Ridge Parkway will guarantee that they will screw it up as is illustrated here!