A solitary bicyclist has the Blue Ridge Parkway pretty much to himself as he approaches the Rocky Knob Campground in Floyd County.
Traffic on the 71-year-old scene route that winds through the Blue Ridge from Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smokey Mountains continues to decline — down again for the fifth straight year.
Some blame gas prices. Others say that as development closes in on the once open scenery, the Parkway has lost its appeal.
"The parkway may not appeal to the younger folks," Wayne Strickland, executive director of the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, told The Associated Press in 2006. "The baby boomers enjoyed it. The younger generation, they like to be entertained."
Budget cutbacks have left parts of the Parkway in need of repair and overzealous traffic tactics by Parkway Rangers leave some potential travelers seeking alternative routes.
Whatever the reasons, they all raise questions about the future of the Park.