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Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park (Virginia, USA)
The Skyline Drive is 105 miles long and runs from north to south along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia (from Front Royal to Rockfish Gap). There are four entrance points: in Front Royal near Rt. 66 and 340, Thornton Gap at Rt. 211, Swift Run Gap at Rt. 33, and Rockfish Gap at Rt. 64. The maximum speed limit is 35 mph (enforced by the park police), and it takes about three hours to travel the entire Drive on a clear day. The road is open all year around; however, since during winter time snow is not removed from the road, Skyline Drive can be closed.
Entrance fees: motorcycles - $10, private vehicles (passenger cars, pickup trucks, RVs, vans, and converted buses) - $10 Dec. through Feb. or $15 Mar. through Nov. Individual passes (when entered without a car) - $5 or $8 respectively. Pass is valid for seven days the day of purchase included.
There are 75 overlooks that offer strikingly beautiful views of the Shenandoah Valley to the west or the rolling land at the foot of the Blue Ridge to the east. The best way to locate your position on the Skyline Drive is to use concrete mileposts on the west side (right side if you are traveling south) of the road (they begin with 0 at Front Royal). All park maps and information use these mileposts as a reference. You can purchase fuel at one of three places along the drive: Elkwallow, in the northern end, Big Meadows Wayside, and Loft Mountain. Use this link to access excellent online map of the Skyline Drive with adjacent areas. The section of the US National Park Service site dedicated to the Skyline Drive can also be a valuable resource in planning your visits to the area.
Generally speaking, the best time to visit the Shenandoah National Park is late spring, summer and fall; though it may depend on your particular destination. In planning your trips, keep in mind that temperatures on Skyline Drive can be 10 - 15 degrees cooler than in the valleys below. The heaviest traffic is in the fall. While driving, watch carefully for animals that cross Skyline Drive in their daily travels: you can meet deer, black bear, wild turkey, and a host of other woodland animals in abundance at Shenandoah National Park. Remember that it is unlawful to feed the wildlife.