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Bluffs Lodge Along The Blue Ridge Parkway Shuttered For 2011

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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

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!


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 :(


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