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June 25, 2013
From journal Trip to Virginia
Great Falls, Virginia
April 11, 2011
From journal Living as an Expat in the Washington Area
St. Louis, Missouri
April 15, 2009
From journal Insight from a 4-Year Visitor to Washington, D.C.
July 19, 2003
When you hear "Shenandoah National Park", one automatically thinks of the famous and historic "Skyline Drive" which runs from Front Royal to Waynesboro, Virginia.
Skyline Drive officially starts in the north at Front Royal, VA, however there are three other entrances to the park. Thornton Gap (mile 31.5) is accessible via U.S 211, Swift Run Gap (mile 65.7) via U.S. 33 and the south entrance at Rockfish Gap (mile 105.4) via I-64 and U.S. 250. The Swift Run Gap entrance is the closest to McGaheysville, as it is only 14 miles away.
Skyline Drive is a 105 mile ridge top adventure that twists and turns along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Signature stone walls line most curves and overlooks along this scenic drive. Spectacular vistas of the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding mountain ranges can be seen from the road or one of the 75 overlooks that are located throughout the park.
Nestled amongst the rocky cliffs and the ancient hemlock trees, mountain laurel and azalea bushes were bursting with brilliant colors Memorial Day weekend. Their vibrant colors could be seen for miles and I always commented how beautiful they were. One bush in particular stood out since it was a rich, "hot pink" color against a grayish-brown mountainside slab of rock. My husband said it was the prettiest one in the park and always gave me advance notice that "my favorite bush" was just ahead. Bluets could also be spotted alongside the road, sprinkling a blueish-purple color amongst the dark green grass.
Deer are plentiful inside Shenandoah and can be seen alongside the road or amongst the forest trees. Be extremely careful while driving as they decide to cross the road without any warning!! They certainly don’t look for oncoming traffic!! We lost count after seeing 60 plus deer one day while driving through half of the park. Big Meadows (mile marker 51) is a popular area for spotting deer during the day, but they can be found in larger numbers around dusk. Big Meadows hosts several ranger programs throughout the day that provides a better understanding of the Shenandoah ecosystem. One of the most popular programs, Twilight at Big Meadows, is a one mile stroll where you have the opportunity to see animals in their natural habitat as nightfall approaches. This program meets at the Byrd Visitor Center at 7pm on Monday and Thursday nights and takes about 1.5 hours.
Numerous trails start on Skyline Drive and the Appalachian Trail covers 101 miles in Shenandoah (look for the white mark on the trees).
There are seven picnic areas, two main restaurants, and four snack-bar/souvenir stores in this 105 mile span. Restrooms are not frequent, but can be found at all visitor centers and picnic areas.
Shenandoah is a vacation "bargain"! For only $10, you can spend seven days hiking trails, viewing wildlife, or simply being a "car tourist"; driving and absorbing the sights along the scenic stretch of highway known as Skyline Drive.
From journal Spending Time in Shenandoah
Belmar, New Jersey
December 7, 2006
One of the first stops on our journey was to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. One of the most impressive parts of our drive across this beautiful country was the stretch along Shenandoah's Skyline Drive. Running north/south along the Blue Ridge Mountains, this 105 mile roadway is one of the most amazing sights in the country. There are 75 overlooks that offer views of the Shenandoah valley, and it seems like you can see for miles! Along the way you will drive through mountain tunnels (long stretches through mountains that will remind you of your days watching Looney Toons!); the wildlife is aplenty along this road too.
We made our trip in early summer and saw large black bears, cubs in tow, walking along the road, as well as hundreds of deer and other wildlife. We had a great camping experience at Big Meadows Camp Ground, which is both tent and camper friendly. If you aren't much for sleeping under canvas, don't worry, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy the park. For those who aren't so rustic that they want to sleep on the ground, but would like to be a little more outdoor-sy than a hotel room, can opt for the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, which has several primitive cabins in the park. Each cabin comes equipped with mattresses, blankets, and cookware... a pit toilet and spring water are nearby.
You can make lodging reservations online at www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/lodging.htm. Entrance to the park is not very expensive, ranging from $10-$20 per non-commercial vehicle, depending on the season, which is valid for 7 consecutive days. As you make your way along Skyline Drive, make sure you have time to stop at one of the many caverns. We recommend Luray Caverns (although we didn't get there this time around). The Luray Caverns are among the most impressive underground caverns in the country, and definitely worth your time. Although we visited the park in summer, temperatures still got a little cold at night. I would recommend bringing extra layers and blankets, particularly if you are planning to sleep outside. If there is one thing that is consistent from campsite to campsite, it's the bugs. Stock up on your bug spray and citronella candles, you won't be sorry! The biggest piece of advice that I can offer is this: for goodness sake, go to the bathroom before you start on Skyline Drive! The restrooms are few and far between, and you could be squatting next to a deer before you know it!
For this park, the best way to travel is definitely by car. The speed limit is 35 mph, which is for your safety as well as the safety of the resident wildlife. Don't be surprised to come around a bend and see a bear in the middle of the road, unsure of which way he was intending to go. For his sake and yours (hey, nobody wants the imprint of a large mountain animal in their bumper), please drive carefully!
From journal The Cross Country Road Trip of a Lifetime
May 23, 2006
There is so much to do here. Before planning your visit, go to http://www.nps.gov/shen/pphtml/planyourvisit.html. We enjoyed stopping along the way and taking a few short hikes along the Appalachian Trail system.
In addition, be sure to watch for deer! We saw deer everywhere. Be cautious as they are quite tame, and are very curious. Unfortunately, people have started feeding them over the years. We had a couple come right over to our car window and want us to feed them.
From journal Virginia in the Fall
March 24, 2006
From journal Fun in Virginia... Despite the Timeshare Pitch
August 30, 2005
Skyline Drive is a 105-mile-long winding road that runs along the Blue Ridge Mountains through the length of the park. There are many overlooks, a total of 75 altogether - which provide outstanding vistas of spectacular scenery. We were very glad we had film along, as we got some great shots of wildflowers and various types of foliage.
It also provides far off views of the Blue Ridge Mountains -- which also provides some great photo shoots!
We stopped at the Byrd Visitor Center where we caught a young park ranger telling an audience all kinds of things about the animals in the park, and she was having the time of her life--we could tell she really and truly enjoys her job!
There are trails that take you into the "forests of Shenandoah", where you can see many plants and animals. These trails total more than 500 miles, and many of the trailheads are located on Skyline Drive and in developed areas. Much of the park, therefore, is accessible to hikers.
We found Skyline Drive to be a truly awesome driving experience! It is one of the "must-dos" of your vacation!
From journal A Fantastic Massanutten Vacation!
June 10, 2004
The speed limit on this drive is 35mph, so take your own time and drive. We encountered several deer, turkeys, and several marsupials. You could park your car near the overlook and take your own time to appreciate the nature's beauty.
There are numerous hikes one could take; they range from less than a mile round trip to 14 miles round trip. These hikes take you to waterfalls and some give a good view for sunrise/sunset viewing.
The skyline drive has several campgrounds like Big Meadows, Matthews Arm, and Lewis Mountain. There are three visitor centers on the Skyline drive providing all the information one needs plus some have a grocery store and gas station. Dickey Ridge Visitor Center at Mile 4.6, Byrd Visitor Center entrance at Mile 51, Humpback Rocks Visitor Center down south.
There are several entrances to Skyline drive at Front Royal Mile 0 in the north, Thornton Gap entrance at Mile 31, Byrd Visitor Center entrance at Mile 51, Swift Run Gap at Mile 65, and Rockfish Gap at Mile 105 on South.
Last but not the least, pick up a guidebook from any of the visitor centers. These books contain lot of information about the overlooks, hikes, trails, waterfalls, etc. and also the facilities available through out the drive, and also contain handy maps.
From journal Vacation in Shenandoah Valley
by murph the serf
July 21, 2003
There are plenty of picnic areas and hiking trails all along Skyline Drive. Sidetrips to the wonderful caverns of Virginia can be accessed from Skyline Drive. Try the Shenandoah and Luray Caverns.
The fall colours is phenomenal and I would highly recommend this time for a drive along the Skyline.
Skyline Drive ends at the Swift Run Gap. You can check out Massanuten Mountain and its many resorts or contiue on the massif. If you continue on, you start travelling on the
Blue Ridge Parkway. This extends all the way to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. But that's another story to be told.
While staying at Chalet High in Basye VA, this is an excellent day trip to take.
From journal Virginia Mountains