Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

Biltmore Estate, N.C. Arboretum announce ourdoor access, Blue Ridge Parkway to reopen

Biltmore Estate Gardens will be open to passholders starting Saturday. [PHOTO BY THE BILTMORE CO.] Biltmore Estate Gardens will be open to passholders starting Saturday. [PHOTO BY THE BILTMORE CO.]

Three popular destinations, the Biltmore Estate and the North Carolina Arboretum, announced they will permit limited access to outdoor areas on Saturday, the first day of the phase 1 reopening plan Gov. Roy Cooper laid out this week. The Blue Ridge Parkway, meanwhile, announced it would reopen to motor vehicles on Saturday.

The Biltmore Estate will begin reopening the grounds to season passholders from Western North Carolina starting on Saturday. The Biltmore House and other estate experiences, including "Downton Abbey: The Exhibition," now extended through Sept. 7, will remain closed until government mandates are updated.

The health and safety of Biltmore’s guests and employees remain the company’s top priority. Safety protocols have been established to follow CDC, state and local guidelines for guests and employees.

In consideration of social distancing and mass gathering mandates, admission will be limited to annual passholders, by reservation only, at this time. More information is available at

Village Hotel on Biltmore Estate is now accepting reservations for western North Carolina residents or any employee who works for a business or organization defined as essential. More information is available at The Inn on Biltmore Estate remains closed.

The N.C. Arboretum, a 434-acre public garden in Asheville, will reopen its trails on Saturday, May 9, in conjunction with the North Carolina's easing of its stay at home orders and phased reopening plan. Similar to Cooper’s reopening plans, the Arboretum will be opening its campus in several phases, beginning with trails only. Under phase 1:

  • The Arboretum will limit the number of cars on-site in compliance with the governor’s 50% capacity order to ensure that social distancing protocols can be managed. Please be aware that if you arrive to the Arboretum and our capacity is full, you will have to wait until space opens up or come back at another time.
  • The Arboretum will continue to operate under its traditional Fall/Winter Property Hours schedule. The property will close at 7 p.m. and the incoming gate will close one hour prior at 6 p.m.
  • Only credit cards will be accepted for parking fee payment at the Gatehouse.
  • Both buildings and the Bonsai Exhibition Garden will remain closed. Several portable restrooms will be available on campus for use.
  • Parking will only be available at two locations: the Recreation Parking Lot located near the Gatehouse and the parking lot located near the Production Greenhouse. Campus Police will direct any overflow parking along Greenhouse Way. The main parking area is under heavy construction and will be inaccessible during this first phase of trail access.
  • Guests are encouraged to use the trail system only at this time; garden access may be restricted in certain places and accessible only by trails. One-way routes will also be employed in designated areas to minimize contact with others and control social distancing. 
  • Groups of 10 or more are discouraged. Please continue to stay six feet apart from others when on the trails and in the gardens.
  • Personal face coverings are encouraged while on the Arboretum property. Please follow all CDC guidelines regarding proper sanitation and hygiene measures; do not leave your home if you are showing any symptoms related to COVID-19, including a dry cough, fever, shortness of breath.
  • All on-site programming, including classes and events, remain suspended. Online classes are available for registration via the Arboretum's website. 

As the Arboretum monitors the response and interactions on campus during “Phase 1,” information on next steps and subsequent Phases in conjunction with the state and the Arboretum’s own safety measuring process will be released to the public. 

The Blue Ridge Parkway announced it would reoopen sections of the historic roadway previously closed to motor vehicle traffic.

Beginning Saturday, the parkway will reopen gates providing motor vehicle access to the southernmost 14 miles of the park, from Milepost 454 to 469 in coordination with the Qualla Boundary and Great Smoky Mountains National Park planned reopening.

  • Beginning Friday, May 15, the Parkway will reopen gates providing motor vehicle access at the following locations in North Carolina, once initial seasonal mowing and road preparations are complete:

    Milepost 292-296.5 near Blowing Rock, including Moses Cone Parking Area and Hwy 221 Bass Lake Parking Lot.
  • Milepost 298.6-308 through Grandfather Mountain area, including Rough Ridge and Linn Cove Viaduct
  • Milepost 316.4 Linville Falls Spur Road, including parking at Linville Falls trailheads
  • Milepost 334-342 including Crabtree Falls Area, near Little Switzerland, NC
  • Milepost 355-375.6 from Mt. Mitchell to Ox Creek, including Craggy Gardens
  • Milepost 377.4 Parking areas at Craven Gap (Town Mountain Rd) for MST Trail access
  • Milepost 384.7 Roadside parking at MST Trailheads at US 74A Parkway access ramps
  • Milepost 393-454 from French Broad River Overlook and south to Soco Gap

In addition, all parkway trails and all other sections of the motor route in North Carolina and Virginia previously accessible to motor vehicle traffic remain open.