1. Travel
Send to a Friend via Email

Skyline Drive – a Driving Guide of Virginia's National Scenic Byway

Shenandoah Valley, Shenandoah National Park, and the Blue Ridge Mountains

By

Skyline Drive – a Driving Guide of Virginia's National Scenic Byway © Virginia Tourism Corporation

Skyline Drive is a National Scenic Byway that runs 105 miles north and south along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park. There are 75 overlooks that offer stunning views of the Shenandoah Valley to the west or the rolling piedmont to the east. Fall is an especially popular time to travel along Skyline Drive, with its colorful foliage from late September to mid-November. Spring is also a great time to visit with spectacular views of wildflowers and mountain laurel.

The maximum speed limit on Skyline Drive is 35 mph. It takes about three hours to travel the entire length of the park on a clear day.

Getting to Skyline Drive

From Washington, DC, take I-495 to I-66 West. Take exit 13 toward Linden/Front Royal/VA-79/VA-55. The drive from Washington DC to Front Royal is about 70 miles and takes approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes in normal traffic. During the fall and spring, you should be prepared for delays and slow traffic.

There are four entrances to Shenandoah National Park. They are located at:
  • Front Royal via I-66 and Route 340
  • Thornton Gap via Route 211
  • Swift Run Gap via Route 33
  • Rockfish Gap via I-64 and Route 250
See a map of Skyline Drive

Visiting Tips

  • As you travel along Skyline Drive you will notice mileposts that will help you find your way through the park. The mileposts begin with 0.0 at Front Royal and continue to 105 at the southern end of the park.
     
  • Call the Park’s Recorded Information Line for Driving Updates - (540) 999-3500
     
  • Call the Fall Color Hotline for foliage updates - (800) 424-LOVE
     
  • Watch carefully for animals who may cross your path without warning. Wildlife that inhabits this region includes the white-tailed deer, black bear, raccoons, opossum, skunk, birds, red and gray fox, beaver, river otter, mink, weasel, woodchuck, rabbit, squirrel and chipmunks.
     
  • Stop along the way and attend a ranger program
     
  • Visit on weekdays to avoid crowds during the busy seasons

Highlights Along Skyline Drive

Front Royal - northernmost entrance at Milepost 0.0

Skyline Caverns - Front Royal. Famous for its Anthrodites — Orchids of the Mineral Kingdom, Skyline Caverns is the closest natural wonder to Washington, DC. Guided tours are available. Kids also enjoy a ride on the miniature train, the Skyline Arrow.

Appalachian Trail - runs parallel to Skyline Drive with 500 miles of hiking trails, wildlife and outdoor adventure programs.

Luray Caverns - 970 US Highway 211 West Luray, Virginia. Luray Caverns are the largest caverns in the eastern United States and probably the most popular attraction in the Shenandoah Valley. Explore this natural wonder with towering stone columns, mud flows, stalactites, stalagmites, crystal-clear pools and many other formations. Also at Luray Caverns, visit the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum and experience the history of transportation. See more than 140 cars, carriages, coaches and costumes from 1725.

Skyland Resort - Milepost 42.7. - Shenandoah National Park's largest lodge is located at the highest point on Skyline Drive at 3,680 feet. Accommodations include 178 units ranging from historic cabins to modern hotel rooms and suites. There is a dining room, family-friendly entertainment, ranger guided programs, horseback riding and a conference hall.

Big Meadows Lodge - Milepost 51.2 - Big Meadows Lodge is a smaller lodge in Shenandoah National Park with just 25 rooms and 72 cabins, suites and traditional rooms. The lodge has a dining room, family-friendly entertainment, guided ranger programs and a Visitor Center nearby.

Waynesboro - southernmost entrance at Milepost 105

Visitor Centers Along Skyline Drive

The following locations offer amenities such as restrooms, information desks, exhibits, orientation movies, bookstores, publications, maps, backcountry permits, and first aid.
  • Dickey Ridge Visitor Center - Mile 4.6
  • Harry F. Byrd, Sr. Visitor Center - Milepost 51
  • Loft Mount Information Center – Milepost 79.5
For more information, see A Visitors Guide to Shenandoah National Park

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.