Top Ten Scenic Mountain Drives
|Take me home, country road (NPS)|
If you like to slow down and enjoy the ride, Skyline Drive is the road for you—and not just because the speed limit holds you to a leisurely 35 miles per hour. Driving this gently graded, sharply winding road lets you explore the beauty of Shenandoah National Park from atop the narrow spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains—which is reason enough to stop and smell the rose azaleas.
Pull off at one of 75 overlooks to take in the view—the gentle, rolling hills of the Virginia Piedmont to the east, and the fertile Shenandoah Valley to the west. Get a closer look at wildflowers, ferns, and, in late spring, banks of mountain laurel in bloom. Stretch your legs with a walk down the Limberlost Trail, which passes through a stand of giant hemlocks—some as ancient as 400 years old. For a more serious trek, tackle part of the Appalachian Trail; 101 of its 2,160 miles run through the park.
Wildlife abounds in Shenandoah, with black bear being the marquee critter. If you feel like getting up close and personal, the best places for ursine viewing are along the drive at Milam Gap, Skyland, and Big Meadows access roads; bear sightings are also common at Loft Mountain. While deer can be seen almost anywhere, check out Big Meadows at dusk; meander through the grass and you'll spot between 50 and 100 deer, from adorable fawns to championship bucks.
Just the Facts
Route: Front Royal to Rockfish Gap through Shenandoah National Park.
Length: 105 miles (four hours)
Season: Year-round; occasionally closed due to winter weather.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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