Located along the crest of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway are regularly touted among the best mountain drives in the United States. And with good reason. These drives are epic, and create lasting memories.
The action all begins in Front Royal, Virginia (about 75 minutes from Washington DC), and runs all the way down to Cherokee, North Carolina.
Skyline Drive, a 105-mile national scenic byway in Shenandoah National Park, is well known for spectacular panoramic views and relatively easy access from the Washington DC region. The speed limit here is 35 mph, so you can roll down your windows, feel the breeze and experience every curve and turn of this beautiful drive. There are 75 overlooks that offer stunning views of the Shenandoah Valley to the west or the rolling Piedmont to the east. Skyline Drive is the only public road through the park, and it serves as the primary access for nearly 500 miles of hiking trails. Plan ahead, as there are only four entrances to Skyline Drive, and it takes about three hours to travel the entire length of the park.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile drive that connects Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Access to the Parkway is offered at several intersections to major roads and highways. The Parkway’s maximum speed limit is 45 mph.
- Deer, black bear, wild turkey, and a host of other woodland animals call these wilderness areas home, and regularly cross the roads their daily travels. Watch carefully for wildlife that may dart across your path without warning. If you want a closer look, be sure to pull completely off the Drive and stay in your vehicle. (Remember it is unlawful to feed the wildlife.)
- Both roads are generally open 24 hours a day / 7 days a week, weather permitting.
- Access points and alternate roads can be used to create a loop drive in multiple locations throughout the Shenandoah Valley, allowing visitors to explore smaller sections of these stunning destinations.
- Shenandoah National Park has an entrance fee, the Blue Ridge Parkway does not.
- There is only one gas station along Skyline Drive, and no gas stations along the Parkway, so plan accordingly and “fill up before you drive up.”
- Want to explore beyond the car? Don’t worry, there’s tons to see and do along the way.