Shenandoah National Park, VA
Grandaddy of Scenic Drives
Built in the 1930s, the 105-mile Skyline Drive runs the length of the park, connecting to the famous Blue Ridge Parkway in the south. It's the ultimate car tour, dotted with pullouts, hikes, picnic spots, and photo ops.
Our recommended route begins north, at the junction of U.S. 340 near Front Royal, Virginia. Plan on three hours to do the whole drive, including stretch breaks for the kids.
White-tailed deer, copyright
Shenandoah National Park
- Shenandoah Valley Overlook. At this first stop, you'll get a sweeping view across the valley to Signal Knob, a Civil War communications post.
- Skyland. About 40 minutes into the trip, you'll hit Skyland, the highest point on the Drive (elevation 3,680 feet). Naturalist George Freeman Pollock built this resort in the 1890s. You can stop for lodging, food, crafts, and souvenirs, take a hike on Stony Man Nature Trail, or go horseback riding.
- Cedar Run/Whiteoak Canyon. If you love waterfalls, this spot has six of them! But you'll have to work a little to see them; it's a strenuous 4-mile hike to the base of the canyon, where you'll encounter your first waterfall. Most hikers stop here. Or you can continue for an easy 1.2-mile trail to Limberlost, an area of ancient hemlocks. Take a good, long look. Scientists predict that this endangered species will be dead within 5 years!
- Jones Run. Towards the end of your drive, there's another opportunity to see falls. The 3.6-mile hike to Jones Run Falls has a great payoff: moss and flowering plants growing on the 42-foot, water-sprayed cliff -- simply breathtaking!
Best of the Blue Ridge, copyright
Shenandoah National Park.