Skyline Drive winds through the Blue Ridge Mountains and is one of the country’s most beautiful road-trip tours. At 105 miles long, the abundance of changing leaves and bucolic greenery filled with wildlife make this trip perfect for social.
Here’s a route to take if you want to have great updates this season — just be sure to stop safely before you start to shoot.
Where to Enter Skyline Drive
There are four points of entry for Skyline Drive — and once you’re on the drive, you’ve officially entered Shenandoah National Park. Depending on where you’re coming from, you can choose one of the following mile marker entries.
- Mile 0: Front Royal Entrance Station is near I-66 and off Route 340
- Mile 31.5: Thornton Gap Entrance Station is off Route 211
- Mile 65.7: Swift Run Gap Entrance Station is off Route 33
- Mile 105: Rockfish Gap Entrance Station is off I-64 and Route 250
For Sunrises and Sunsets
If you want to catch the first and last light of the day, there are plenty of opportunities. Here are some spots where you can safely stop to catch the sun as it rises or sets for the day.
- Mile 17: Range View Overlook
- Mile 32.8: Buck Hollow Overlook
- Mile 40.5: Thorofare Mountain Overlook
- Mile 41.7: Stony Man
- Mile 55.5: The Point Overlook
- Mile 56.4: Bearfence Mountain Summit
If you pull over to catch the sunrise or sunset, you’ll also be likely to see deer or black bears as they come out at dawn and dusk. Keep your distance from wildlife, however. For deer, stay at least 75 feet away. For bears, stay at least 150 feet away.
Remember to only pull over if you can safely get all four tires of your vehicle completely off the road, safely. Do not get out of your car.
Whether you’re a solo traveler or in a group, set up your yurt at one of these campgrounds. Make sure to note whether you need reservations in advance or can just show up unannounced. And make sure you are prepared by checking out the available amenities before you head out.
Mile 22.2: Mathews Arm Campground is open from May through late October. This campground is first come, first served.
Mile 51.2: Big Meadows Campground is open from March through mid-November. This campground is first come, first served.
Mile 57.5: Lewis Mountain Campground is open from late March through mid-November. This campground is first come, first served.
Mile 79.5: Loft Mountain Campground is open from May through late October. This campground is first come, first served, but you can also make reservations here.
Mile 83.7: Dundo Group Campground is open from May through late October. This campground is for groups only, so make sure to book reservations.
If you’re looking for some of the most gorgeous views in the country, the overlooks on Skyline Drive are your best bet. Here are the mile posts to do so.
Mile 17.1: Range View Overlook offers views of the mountain ridges of Stony Man and Blue Ridge. From the south, you can see Jenkins Mountains, Gimlet Ridge, Massanutten Mountains, and the Alleghenies.
Mile 48.1: Spitler Knoll Overlook offers views of the Shenandoah River.
Mile 81.2: Big Run Overlook is what the park is known for, opening into one of the park’s largest streams.
Mile 92.6: Crimora Lake Overlook looks down into the lake that’s enclosed by Turks Mountain and Rocks Mountain, as well as Wildcat Mountain.
Where to Find Visitor Centers
Finding the visitor center is a must on any road trip, especially since there are only two visitor centers along this scenic drive. It’s a 45-mile drive in between rest stops, so make sure you know where you can — or where you should — use the restroom.
Mile 4.6: Dickey Ridge Visitor Center has an orientation movie and it’s purportedly a classic. Watch it to get your bearings. It’s open mid-March through late November.
Mile 51: Harry F. Byrd Visitor Center is right across from Big Meadows, with large windows looking onto the grassland. There’s also an information desk and a bookstore.
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