Motoring along Skyline Drive is a scenic 105 mile tour along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park. Over two million people visit Skyline Drive each year and it is particularly well traveled during the leaf-changing season in the fall.
Construction of the road took eight years, from 1931-39. It began as a Great Depression era WPA project. The Civilian Conservation Corp assisted in the work and built many of the overlooks and guardrails, planted trees, and so forth.
Most of Skyline Drive is along the ridgeline of the mountains, which often had to be widened to accommodate traffic. Cars, motorcycles, RVs, horse trailers, and other recreational vehicles are all common to the park. In fact, any vehicle that can clear the 12’ 8” Mary’s Rock Tunnel can enjoy the scenic views along the full length of the route. The entry cost is $15 for a car or $10 for a motorcycle. Seasonal passes are $30 (good for one car or two motorcycles).
A driving tour is beautiful (see this driving map) and the 35 mph speed limit allows thorough enjoyment of the scenery. Many stops along the way provide scenic views. But the park also accommodates hiking, camping, biking, and horseback riding. There are numerous trails and a portion of the Appalachian Trail runs through the park. Visitors centers, cabins, restaurants, and lodges also offer places to stay and dine.
Maps of the park are geared to the mile markers along the road. These run north to south along the western side of the Drive. Areas of interest, lodging, picnic areas and the like are located by the nearest mile marker.
Skyline Drive can be accessed at four points from north to south: Front Royal, Virginia (U.S. Highway 340); Thornton Gap (U.S. Highway 211); Swift Run Gap (U.S. Highway 33); and Rockfish Gap (Interstate 64, U.S. Highway 250). The final point at Rockfish Gap is the southern end of the Drive and begins the Blue Ridge Parkway, which continues traveling along the mountains until it ends in North Carolina at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Skyline Drive is in the National Register of Historic Places, is a National Scenic Byway, and is a National Historic Landmark.
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