Exploring Skyline Drive - Camping, Hiking, And Things To Do

Posted by Nick Niesen on October 27th, 2010

Skyline Drive is a scenic 105 mile long roadway curving across the majestic Blue Ridge mountaintops through the Shenandoah National Forest in Virginia. Enjoy a slow and relaxing drive through the park, experiencing gorgeous views from the many picturesque overlooks along the way. There are plenty of opportunities to see wild animals and to enjoy the fragrant and beautiful flora that decorates the mountainsides.

Skyline Drive offers bed and breakfast inns and other nearby lodging, as well as numerous camping opportunities, including backcountry camping in the Shenandoah National Forest and family campgrounds along Skyline Drive. Whether you?re filling up the Coleman chest cooler for an afternoon picnic at one of the picnic areas along Skyline Drive or planning a backpacking trip through the more than 500 miles of hiking trails through the Shenandoah National Forest, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy along the way, not to mention the beautiful vistas and many nearby attractions. This guide to Skyline Drive will help you plan your visit to this popular scenic roadway.

Skyline Drive?s northern end is in Front Royal, VA, off US 340 and just 500 feet above sea level. Both automobiles and bicyclists share the curvy mountain drive, so it is important to obey the 35 mph speed limit along the parkway. Backcountry camping is allowed throughout the Shenandoah National Forest and a free camping permit can be obtained by mail in advance or at a ranger station after you arrive. A small entrance fee is charged for entrance to Skyline Drive and the pass is good for seven days.

Shortly after entering Skyline Drive from the northern end, you will come to the Dickey Ridge visitor center and picnic area at MP 4.6. The visitor center offers a variety of information as well as exhibits of the surrounding area. The first campground on Skyline Drive, Mathews Arm, is located at MP 22.1. Campers can enjoy hiking to Shenandoah National Forest?s tallest waterfall or stroll through a relaxing nature trail near the campground. Nearby, at MP 24.1 is Elkwallow Wayside for groceries and camping supplies and the Elkwallow picnic area. The Wayside also features a grill serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner to carry out to the picnic area or outdoor patio.

At MP 31.5, you can exit Skyline Drive via Rt. 211 to visit beautiful Luray, VA in the peaceful Shenandoah valley. Luray is home to the amazing Luray Caverns where you can take a guided tour of the magnificent cave formations, including the famous singing rocks. Luray also offers a variety of bed and breakfast lodges, as well as secluded cabin rentals. Just ahead, at MP 32, you will pass through Mary?s Rock Tunnel, the only tunnel on Skyline Drive. There is an overlook shortly after the tunnel that offers great picture opportunities of the structure.

The Pinnacles picnic area is located at MP 36.7 on Skyline Drive and offers a peaceful, picturesque spot to enjoy a picnic lunch or cook on one of the available charcoal grills. Restrooms are available here as well.

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Nick Niesen

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Nick Niesen
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