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May 19, 2024

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Authorities Close 8 Miles of Parkway

Due to repeated incidents of visitors feeding and attempting to handle a young bear at the Lane Pinnacle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway authorities have decided to close an 8-mile section. Effective from Monday, October 30, 2023, until further notice, the Parkway will be inaccessible between milepost 367.6 near the Craggy Gardens Picnic Area and milepost 375.6 at Ox Creek Road due to concerns over human-bear interactions. While visitors can reach the Craggy Gardens recreational area via NC80 from the north, the visitor center at milepost 364.5 will remain shut until the road reopens.

Situated at milepost 372.1, the Lane Pinnacle Overlook offers scenic views of the southeast Swannanoa Valley. A photo shared on the Blue Ridge Parkway’s social media depicted a group of people standing “perilously close” to a young black bear, capturing photographs.

Eyewitnesses who recently experienced close encounters between humans and a young black bear along the parkway shared snapshots of the incidents on social media. One such instance featured a bear at Lane Pinnacle Overlook, approaching a parked motorcycle. Another witness captured a young bear strolling around a bustling overlook in the Craggy Gardens area on October 21, 2023. Fall marks a crucial period for bears, as between September and November, they may spend up to 20 hours a day foraging for food in an attempt to gain weight for the winter and hibernation. During this time, bears actively seek natural food sources but may also resort to human food when it becomes available. If you come across a bear while on the parkway, please call 828-298-2491 or visit the nearest Visitor Center to report the encounter.

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