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Facts about the Blue Ridge Mountains for Kids


The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province of the larger Appalachian Mountains range. To the west of the Blue Ridge, between it and the bulk of the Appalachians, lies the Great Appalachian Valley, bordered on the west by the Ridge and Valley province of the Appalachian range.

  • Trees put the “blue” in Blue Ridge, from the isoprene released into the atmosphere, thereby contributing to the characteristic haze on the mountains and their distinctive color.
  • Within the Blue Ridge province are two major national parks: the Shenandoah National Park in the northern section and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the southern section.
  • The Blue Ridge also contains the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile (755 km) long scenic highway that connects the two parks and is located along the ridge crestlines with the Appalachian Trail.
  • While South Mountain dwindles to mere hills between Gettysburg and Harrisburg, the band of ancient rocks that forms the core of the Blue Ridge continues northeast through the New Jersey and Hudson River highlands, eventually reaching The Berkshires of Massachusetts and the Green Mountains of Vermont.
  • The Blue Ridge contains the highest mountains in eastern North America south of Baffin Island.
  • About 125 peaks exceed 5,000 feet (1,500 m) in elevation.
  • There are 39 peaks in North Carolina and Tennessee higher than 6,000 feet (1,800 m); by comparison, only New Hampshire’s Mt.
  • Washington rises above 6,000 feet (1,800 m) in the northern portion of the Appalachian chain.
  • The Blue Ridge Parkway runs 469 miles (755 km) along crests of the Southern Appalachians and links two national parks: Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains.
  • Recent studies completed by Richard Tollo, a professor and geologist at George Washington University, provide greater insight into the petrologic and geochronologic history of the Blue Ridge basement suites.
  • Modern studies have found that the basement geology of the Blue Ridge is made of compositionally unique gneisses and granitoids, including orthopyroxene-bearing charnockites.
  • Analysis of zircon minerals in the granites completed by John Aleinikoff at the U.S. Geological Survey has provided more detailed emplacement ages.
  • Many of the features found in the Blue Ridge and documented by Tollo and others have confirmed that the rocks exhibit many similar features in other North American Grenville-age terranes.
  • The Blue Ridge Mountains have stunted oak and oak-hickory forests and comprise most of the Appalachian slope forests.
  • The area is host to many animals, including: The bluegrass song “Blue Ridge Cabin Home” performed and recorded by many, including Flatt and Scruggs.