James River Visitor Center to Roanoke Mountain Professional Review and Guide
"Since you are starting out at the lowest point on the Parkway and heading toward the highest point on the Parkway in Virginia, expect to do some climbing. Uphill climbs will amount to 4,000 feet. That’s quite a bit for a mere 25 miles.
It is 35 miles from Peaks of Otter to Roanoke Mountain. The
city of Roanoke sits in a valley, so the majority of this section is downhill. With both an airport and bus service, this is a possible beginning or ending point for a tour of the Blue Ridge. If you are on an extended tour, it is also the place to seek assistance for any major difficulties. The population of the Roanoke metropolitan area is over 200,000, which makes it the largest city directly off of the Parkway, though Asheville, North Carolina, runs a close second."