Travel Guide to Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive

Entering Shenandoah National Park on the Skyline DriveEntering Shenandoah National Park on the Skyline Drive

Shenandoah National Park is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the State of Virginia. The park is linear in nature, mostly in a north to south orientation. On the west side of the park is the Shenandoah River and Shenandoah Valley. The Virginia Piedmont lies to the east of the park.

The highest peak in the park is the 4,051 foot Hawksbill Mountain.

A premier destination in the park is Skyline Drive, running 105 miles along a dominant ridge in the mountains. The two-lane road begins in the north at Front Royal, and ends at the interchange with U.S. 250 near I-64, the starting point of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Skyline Drive features 75 overlooks, and offers access to campgrounds, visitor centers, resorts and trails, including the Appalachian Trail. It is designated a National Scenic Byway.

Wildlife abounds in the park, including deer, black bear, turkeys and many species of birds and butterflies.

 

Shenandoah National Park is always open. However, portions of Skyline Drive, the only public road through the park, are periodically closed during inclement weather. Visitors may still enter the park on foot to hike even when the drive is closed.

Most facilities in the park, including visitor centers, lodging and dining, campgrounds, and picnic grounds begin opening in March and close by late November.

Spend a day, or more, and enjoy and explore Shenandoah National Park, and take a slow ride on Skyline Drive. We have driven the entire length of the Drive several times over the years ... it is a highly recommend road trip!

The Harry F. Byrd Sr. Visitor Center located near Milepost 50 on Skyline Drive
The Harry F. Byrd Sr. Visitor Center located near Milepost 50 on Skyline Drive


Autumn is a popular time to drive Skyline Drive in Virginia and view spectacular fall foliage
Autumn is a popular time to drive Skyline Drive in Virginia and view spectacular fall foliage

Accessing Skyline Drive

The North Entrance to Skyline Drive, near Front Royal, VirginiaThe North Entrance to Skyline Drive, near Front Royal, Virginia

There are four entrance points to Skyline Drive:

  • US 340 near I-66 in Front Royal
  • US 211 in Thornton Gap
  • US 33 in Swift Run Gap
  • US 250 near I-64 in Rockfish Gap

The speed limit on Skyline Drive is 35mph. An entrance fee to the park is charged.

Numbered concrete mileposts on located on the west side of Skyline Drive, and numbered north to south.

The Dickey Ridge Visitor Center is located just south of the north entrance at Front Royal, at milepost 5. The Byrd Visitor Center is roughly half-way down the Skyline, near milepost 50.

Popular stops along the way include Mathews Arm, Skyland, Big Meadows, Lewis Mountain, South River and Loft Mountain.

 

The Thornton Gap Entrance to Shenandoah National Park
The Thornton Gap Entrance to Shenandoah National Park
Skyline Drive directions to north and south destinations from the Thornton Gap Entrance
Skyline Drive directions to north and south destinations from the Thornton Gap Entrance

 

Lodging Options In/Near Shenandoah National Park & Skyline Drive

Lodging in the park includes the following:

  • Big Meadows Lodge - 25 rooms in the main lodge, 71 additional rooms in rustic cabins, multi-unit lodges, and suites (Milepost 51)
  • Skyland - 179 guest rooms, rustic cabins, multi-unit lodges and modern suites (Milepost 41.7)
  • Lewis Mountain Cabins - offers several rustic, furnished cabins with private baths and outdoor grill areas
  • Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) Cabins - 6 locked, primitive cabins

Be sure to check the status of lodging facilities, as most are open only from March to late November.

Five campgrounds are provided in the park:

  • Mathews Arm Campground (Milepost 22.1)
  • Big Meadows Campground (Milepost 51.2)
  • Lewis Mountain Campground (Milepost 57.5)
  • Loft Mountain Campground (Milepost 79.5)
  • Dundo Group Campground

Lodging is available in numerous cities and towns along the Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina. Visitors can choose from upscale hotels, B&Bs, inns, cabins, campgrounds, RV parks and lodges.

In addition, eight campgrounds are open from May through October along the Parkway.

Included below is just a small sampling of lodging options and locations ... there are many more!

 

Shenandoah National Park Lodging

Waynesboro, Virginia Lodging

Charlottesville, Virginia Lodging

Harrisonburg, Virginia Lodging

Front Royal, Virginia Lodging

Winchester, Virginia Lodging

Woodstock, Virginia Lodging

Culpeper, Virginia Lodging

Luray, Virginia Lodging

Scenes Along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park

Breathtaking overlook to the horizon, on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park
Breathtaking overlook to the horizon, on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park
Highest point on Skyline Drive ... Elevation 3,680 feet
Highest point on Skyline Drive ... Elevation 3,680 feet


Marys Rock Tunnel on Skyline Drive, near Milepost 33
Marys Rock Tunnel on Skyline Drive, near Milepost 33
Summit Old Rag Mountain ... Elevation 3,291 feet ... Near Milepost 45
Summit Old Rag Mountain ... Elevation 3,291 feet ... Near Milepost 45
Shenandoah National Park is Bear Country! Protect your property and food
Shenandoah National Park is Bear Country! Protect your property and food
A black bear sighting, common in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia
A black bear sighting, common in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia
The Appalachian Trail, the 2,000 mile footpath from Maine to Georgia
The Appalachian Trail, the 2,000 mile footpath from Maine to Georgia
The Appalachian Trail along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park
The Appalachian Trail along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park
Fall foliage for miles and miles in Virginia, in Shenandoah National Park
Fall foliage for miles and miles in Virginia, in Shenandoah National Park
Sign in the Loft Mountain area along Skyline Drive ... campstore, campground, amphitheater and nature trail
Sign in the Loft Mountain area along Skyline Drive ... campstore, campground, amphitheater and nature trail

 


Waterfall splashing over moss-covered rocks along Skyline Drive
Waterfall splashing over moss-covered rocks along Skyline Drive
Overlook on Skyline Drive in Virginia
Overlook on Skyline Drive in Virginia
Bootens Gap on Skyline Drive ... Elevation 3,235 feet ... Milepost 55
Bootens Gap on Skyline Drive ... Elevation 3,235 feet ... Milepost 55


 

Map of Shenandoah National Park

Map of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia (Courtesy of the National Park Service)
Map of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia

 

Interactive Map of the Shenandoah National Park Area

 

More Information about Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park official website at NPS

 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

 

Blue Ridge Parkway