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Great American Road Trips: Skyline Drive

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On: Mon, Nov 11, 2013 at 1:56PM | By: Bill Wilson


Great American Road Trips: Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive is a 105-mile roadway cut through the most scenic points in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park.  Similar to the Blue Ridge Parkway in character, it makes a great addition to that classic American road or a fun motoring adventure all on its own.

Easy to Travel, Hard to Build

Skyline Drive was built during the Great Depression, a project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Construction began in 1931 and the last section was finished eight years later. Along the way, crews blasted stones, chipped at hillsides with hand tools, and hauled away thousands of tons of rock. They cut into mountains and knolls to build a road through some of the densest wilderness in the eastern United States. They added guardrails, planted countless trees and shrubs along the way, and constructed 70 scenic overlooks with parking areas.

The result of their efforts, and those of work crews since, is a smoothly paved highway that offers visitors a chance to enjoy spectacular scenery, see wildlife in its native habitat, and feel a sense of oneness with nature. Deer, bears, turkeys, and other creatures are common sites along the drive.

So are views of both the magnificent Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains. As part of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain, the Blue Ridge gained its name from the sapphire tint created by water evaporating from the trees in the surrounding valleys.

Lots to See, Lots to Do

There’s more than just sightseeing waiting for you along Skyline Drive. Some of the activities you can enjoy include the following:

  • Hiking on the Appalachian Trail, which intersects the drive at several marked points.
  • Touring Rapidan Camp, a 1930s presidential retreat restored to its former glory and now open to visitors.
  • Enjoying the gracious hospitality and impeccable accommodations at Skyland Resort, a world-class lodge located at 3680 feet above sea level, the drive’s highest point. The resort offers comfortable rooms with amazing views, a restaurant that serves a variety of delicious meals, horseback riding, and a gift shop that offers many one-of-a-kind items.

Due to the close presence of wildlife and the constant curves and elevation changes, a 35 mph speed limit is in place throughout Skyline Drive. Park rangers strictly enforce this as well as the other rules, which include prohibitions against littering and possessing alcohol in any form. There’s a small admission fee that gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy the drive for up to seven days. You can find out more at Skyline Drive’sofficial website.


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