The Skyline Drive, a National Scenic Byway, is 105 miles long, running north and south for the entire length of the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It is also designated as a National Historic Landmark, and is inscribed on the National Register of Historic Places. The southern terminus is in Rockfish Gap just north of Waynesboro. The northern end is in Front Royal, Virginia. As with many improvements to provide access to our national parks, the Skyline Drive was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It provides an excellent and relaxing day trip experiencing the spectacular beauty of Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley.
The relaxing drive is somewhat guaranteed by the speed limit of 35 miles per hour which applies for the entire length and is strictly enforced by the park police. The charge of $15.00 per car is not specifically for use of the Skyline Drive, but is the standard cost for entering the National Park, and is valid for a full week. The Drive requires your complete attention while driving. The road is winding and can be treacherous to the incautious. Bikes, motorcycles, and hikers are always sharing the roadway. It is also often crossed by deer, bear, and other wildlife. For safety reasons, and for a full enjoyment of the spectacular views, stopping only at the scenic overlooks, of which there are over seventy, is recommended. They also offer a great place to enjoy the picnic lunch that you brought with you. If you’ve timed your travel prudently, you can also take advantage of the restaurants that are available. One in particular, the Skyland Lodge, offers a spectacular view of the Shenandoah Valley.
Getting off the road and walking on one of the many trails in the park is a great way to experience the national park at its best. You’ll very likely see lots of wildlife, and many of the trails end up at a scenic vista or a roaring waterfall.
The Shenandoah National Park is open throughout the year, although the Skyline Drive may be closed temporarily during bad weather and travel conditions. When the weather is favorable, there is no better way to see the Blue Ridge and the Shenandoah Valley than a leisurely tour along Skyline Drive. No matter which way you travel, north or south, if you wish to return to your starting point at a faster pace than that allowed on Skyline Drive, Interstate Highway 81 offers a parallel route.