Field Report: POTA Roadside activation with a view!

On Monday, October, 18, 2021, I finished a few errands in Asheville, NC and realized I had just enough time to squeeze in an afternoon activation. The weather was beautiful, the fall air felt amazing, and although I had no clue what propagation was like, I needed some field radio therapy!

Blue Ridge Parkway to the rescue!

I’ve mentioned in previous videos that pretty much anytime I drive into Asheville I pass by the Blue Ridge Parkway. Over the years, I’ve discovered numerous POTA (Parks On The Air) spots scattered along “America’s Favorite Drive.”

It’s fall, so we’ve autumn leaf colors and loads of tourists in the region–especially on the BRP.

Even so, I’ve one favorite overlook that is often overlooked by tourist!

It’s a little unofficial turn-out on the parkway that offers up spectacular views. I believe the reason tourists pass by it is because it’s located just beyond one of the most popular overlooks in the area: the Tanbark Ridge Overview. Tourists stop at Tanbark to enjoy the views not knowing that a mere +/-200 meters away, there’s one they could enjoy all on their own.

Because we’re radio family, I’ll share the coordinates with you: 35.655696, -82.483880 🙂 Let’s keep this between us, okay?

The only downsides of the spot are that while there are trees to hang shorter wire antennas, it’s right up against the road. Typically, when I activate this site, I put my car or truck between me and the road to offer up a bit more of a barrier. This is also a spot where I deploy vertical antennas like the CHA MPAS Lite.

The view from my shack!


It’s funny, but I’ve yet to find anyone parked at this spot when I stop by for an activation, but when I park on it myself, people start pulling into it. As I set up on the 18th, no less than two cars pulled in and both parties had loads of questions about my radio gear. Frankly, I was happy to answer their questions.

I set up the CHA MPAS Lite on the edge of the overlook in a spot where no one would accidentally park. I ran the counterpoise along the brush at the edge of the overlook, again, to prevent it from being a tripping hazard for others.  Keep in mind: the last thing a leaf-looker expects at an overlook is an HF antenna system! I don’t want their first memory of meeting a crazy ham to be that they tripped on my counterpoise. 🙂

On the air

As with all of my activations, I set the KX2 power level to five watts. This whole year, I made it my goal to at least validate each activation with 5 watts of power. I suspect I’ll continue doing this next year.

I started calling CQ on 40 meters and worked seven stations in 8 minutes. A very good start!

I then moved up to 30 meters where I worked five more stations in 11 minutes.

Finally, for fun, I hit 20 meters where I worked K9IS and K1EEB.

In total, I racked up 14 contacts in 34 minutes.

I had a valid activation (10 contacts) after only 20 minutes on the air.

 QSO Map


I made a real-time, real-life video of the full activation. In this video you’ll hear everything from CW to crickets and, of course, cars passing by:

Thank you

Thank you for reading this field report and joining me on this short activation.

Again, a special thanks to those of you who are supporting the site and channel through Patreon and the Coffee Fund. While certainly not a requirement as my content will always be free–I really appreciate the support.

Here’s wishing you some serious radio fun this week!


Thomas (K4SWL)

2 thoughts on “Field Report: POTA Roadside activation with a view!”

  1. Excellent Video! In a past video, you mentioned how POTA is like a family. Listening to your video, I kept saying to myself, “I worked him”, “I worked him” It’s almost like seeing a familiar face. When I did my recent activation (K-4450), it was comforting recognizing call signs. It was my first CW activation, so I was a little nervous.

  2. I know exactly where you were. You were just south of Elk Mountain Scenic Highway. We have been by that overlook numerous times. We usually go up to The Sourwood Inn each November for a week and I usually come in via the BRP s I like that approach better than coming in the other way through town. We always stop at the official overlook.

    Thanks for the memories.

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