Skyline Drive, a panoramic road in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia.

Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive is a 169-kilometer (105 miles) long road that runs through Shenandoah National Park. The road is also called America’s favorite drive.

This national park is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Generally placed along the crest of the mountains, this scenic route, classified as a National Scenic Byway, provides access to Blackrock Peak. It is visited by more than two million people annually.

Where is the Skyline Drive located ?

The legendary road passes through the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah National Park in a natural landscape within a beautiful area.
Skyline Drive connects Front Royal to Rockfish Gap, Virginia, USA.

You can locate the road on the map below:

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How long is Skyline Drive ?

This road is paved. The road is a two-lane 169-kilometer (105 miles) long road.

To cross the road you will have to pay the entrance fee of the national park, a 25$ ticket. The fauna is very present: bears, deer, wild turkeys, and other wild animals. It is, therefore, necessary to redouble vigilance while driving.
This explains in part why the speed limit is 35 mph (56 km/h) on the entire Skyline Drive. It will take a minimum of three hours to complete the entire route.
However, it is not mandatory to drive the entire route as there are entrances that allow you to exit the park along the way.

On the left side of the road when you go up to Front Royal (i.e. on the right side when you go south), there are useful mile markers. Indeed, the park is full of points of interest all along its route, and stops are easily made. Just memorize the areas where you want to stop and look at the markers regularly to easily find your way around the points of interest, views, restaurants, stores, campsites, and other accommodations. You might think you’re going to be walking through these points of interest, but it’s just the opposite. They are rather well hidden and set back from the main road, which offers an immersion in nature.

A preview of this legendary road:

You can discover the beauty of this road by watching the following YouTube video :

History of the road

Opened in 1939, this road that winds along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains is classified as a National Scenic Byway and offers a breathtaking spectacle.

In addition to the beautiful scenery, especially in the early fall when nature begins to turn ochre, the road is very winding and is a treat for those who like to take turns.

On many occasions, the road passes on the crest of the mountains and offers a sublime view of the valley.

Although the sections are intertwined between ascents and descents (relegating the flat sections to oblivion), the climbs (sometimes very long) do not exceed 6% inclination.

How to get to the Skyline Drive ?

By air, come to Washington Dulles International Airport, which is centrally located in the Capital Region and is served by direct flights from the United States and many other airports around the world.

If you are coming from Washington D.C. take Highway 66 until Front Royal then follow the directional signs.

Also, if you are coming from the south (from Charlottesville for example) take Highway 64 until the Rockfish Gap.

You can also drive the Chesapeake Bay Bridge that is not so far from this road.

You visualize how to get there on this map of the drive:

Is Skyline Drive open ?

Skyline Drive is open year-round except when weather conditions do not permit, such as snow or ice. The road is also closed at night during the whole hunting season. Alerts for hazards or section closures are posted in real-time on the park website.

If the road can be done in one day, it is ideal to plan two days in order to make some visits and pauses, in particular, to take advantage of the splendid landscapes. You can stop at the Luray Caves which are among the most beautiful caves in the eastern United States.

The Skyline Drive, a mythical road through the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah National Park, is a panoramic road that is a must when visiting Virginia.
Considered one of the best places to drive on the East Coast, known for its history, ruggedness, and fascination, driving this road will be an unforgettable experience.

Pictures sources: By Famartin – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

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