Shenandoah Valley/Skyline Drive

Old Jun 28th, 2004, 05:50 PM
  #1  
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Shenandoah Valley/Skyline Drive

My husband and I are thinking of driving to the Shenandoah Valley from our home in NY in September. We would like to take Skyline Drive through the park and do some hiking and all the neat stuff. We will have a week to travel. I have no idea where to stay or what my itinerary should look like. At this point any suggestions or recommendations are welcome. Thanks.
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Old Jun 28th, 2004, 07:39 PM
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It's a lovely time of year to go, and I think you will really enjoy the change in the colors. You can car-camp in the park (but it gets really chilly at night, since you're at elevation), and that would be the best way to go. You don't mention if you plan to use the whole week driving Skyline Drive-- it can be done in a day, but there are lots of little towns where you can stop. North of Skyline you might want to try "Washington, Virginia," where there is a famous B&B and Michelin 3-Star restaurant, "The Inn at little washington." It's VERY pricey, but there is a wonderful B & B down the street that is perfectly nice, as well. Enjoy it.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 05:27 AM
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Have you considered continuing on south to the Blue Ridge Parkway? It connects with Skyline Drive. It looks like there's more hiking and things to do along the BRPkwy.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 05:56 AM
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Your next stops should be at these URLs:

www.nps.gov/shen
www.shenandoah.national-park.com
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 06:10 AM
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We love Shenandoah National Park. We honeymooned at Skyland Lodge and we try to tent camp there at once every other year or so.

One trip we did included Monticello and Natural Bridge.

If you like P. Buckley Moss, she has a museum and a home in Waynesburo, the southern end of Skyline Drive.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 06:58 AM
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Thanks for the replies. I was thinking about continuing onto the Blue Ridge, but I don't know how much time it will all take and I wasn't sure how much driving we wanted to do on the return trip. If one week is too much to spend in the VA part alone, then we will prob head further south into north carolina. I have never planned a trip like this before so I am not sure how to approach it. I have already looked at those websites, and there's a lot of helpful info there, but I wanted to also get personal opinions and advice.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 09:38 AM
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Unless you wish to camp in a tent or your car (for budget or recreational reasons), I would strongly suggest spending a few nights at Big Meadows Lodge. It's in the heart of Shenandoah National Park, at around mile 51 of Skyline Drive. The lodge has basic hotel rooms for around $80-90 (a bit more if you want a valley view from your room). The lodge has a very good restaurant on site (on no account miss the blackberry cobbler), a gift shop, and a small "tap room" pub where local musicians play in the evenings.

There are trails all over the property to stroll, and the Appalachian Trail runs right nearby if you'd like to spend a few miles on that storied trail. It's also less than a mile from the visitor's center in the middle of the park, where you can watch short films about the region; buy books on local hikes, history, birds, flowers, etc.; and from where many interesting ranger-led programs take place.

Because of Big Meadows' central location, it's a good base for driving to notable trails/waterfalls/views throughout the park, the horseback-riding stables at Skyland, and places down in the valley outside the park. Speaking of those, Luray Cavern is a "must-see" in my book. All of the schlock surrounding the site gives way to genuine awe when you're in the caverns; you'll marvel at what nature has wrought (and is continuing to make).

A day trip to Charlottesville and Monticello would also be just a few hours away. And when you stay on Skyline Drive, you always have a beautiful drive to whereever you're going and the chance to see all kinds of wildlife.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 10:36 AM
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I have read that the central portion of the park is the most interesting, but according to Big Meadows web site they don't have lodging available for my dates. I don't know how accurate that is, so I will probably call them anyway. What about staying in Luray? It seems there's lots to do in and around that area. Another thing is should I start my trip from Front Royal or head right to the central part after I pass washington d.c.? BTW, Frommer's gave me lots of good info, but I really enjoy reading the personal comments, keep em coming!
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 10:51 AM
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Oh my goodness, so many options...... you could easily spend your entire week in the Shenandoah Valley, but I'd recommend driving it north on your way back to NY. Stop in Lexington VA for its CW connections to Lee and Jackson, continue on to Staunton were you can find lots of options for a meal or overnight accommodations. The town of Dayton offers an interesting side trip with a Farmers Market and its wonderful county museum. Continue north to the New Market Battlefield if you're a history buff before merging with I 81 towards NY.

At the beginning of your journey, be sure to stop at Harpers Ferry on your way south before joining up with Skyline Drive. This scenic little town is just full of historic connections to Jefferson, Lee, and John Brown's Raid. Take a side trip to Charlottesville to tour Monticello and Ash Lawn before continuing south to Bedford where you can visit the new D Day Memorial there. I'd recommend spending a night at the Peaks of Otter Lodge (milepost 86) on the Blue Ridge Parkway where you can also pick up part of the Appalachian Trail. Natural Bridge VA located closeby is worth a stop before turning north through the valley.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 11:04 AM
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I haven't done this road the way you're going, so I apologize if there are a couple of goofs. Since I'm in NC, I take different routes.

From DC to Front Royale, take the interstate.

Skyline drive charges a fee, while the Blue Ridge Parkway is free. There is a highway the runs parallel to Sklyline drive if you decide to not pay the fee.

It think it's around Waynesboro where Skyline Drive changes to BRP, but double check. Roanoke, along BRP, is worth a detour. Head up the mountain to look at the star. Also along the BRP is Mabry Mill, a must stop.

Since you are in the area, stop by Charlottesville, VA and visit the sites such as Monticello, Ash Lawn, and the UVa campus.

Also in the mountains of Va is the town of Lexington, it's nice for a few hours. Visit the home of Stonewall Jackson and the Washington and Lee campus.

There is a book that breaksdown the BRP by mile marker and tells you what is at the pullovers. Also has some history to it. I've mentioned it before, so click on my name or search for Blue Ridge Parkway and you should find it.
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Old Jun 29th, 2004, 11:13 AM
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It's from a 5/7/2001 post (boy, does time fly)

The book is called "Guide to the Blue Ridge Parkway" by Frank Logue.
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Old Jun 30th, 2004, 06:34 AM
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Thanks ncgrrl, I will check it out. Anyone have ideas about staying in Luray or one of the other surrounding towns? We would really like to stay in a private cabin,as opposed to a hotel or a B&B. Thanks.
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Old Jul 1st, 2004, 06:24 AM
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I asked the same question (re. quaint places to stay just off of Sky. Dr.)last year and did not receive a single reply. I would suggest that you call ARAMARK every day for an opening/cancellation on Skyline Drive. Don't forget about the Lewis Cabins. They are fully modernized w/small decks & outside fire areas.
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Old Aug 20th, 2004, 11:22 AM
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We did a trip to the Shenandoah Valley area in May and loved it.

For the Shenandoah National Park/Skyline drive, how much time to spend there depends on how much you like to hike. They have some wonderful trails, including at least 5 that lead to various waterfalls. The minimum for the Skyline Drive would be to drive half of it in the afternoon, do a short hike [2-3 hrs RT], spend the night, and drive the rest in the morning. If you like to hike more, you can easily add to this.

As other posters have mentioned, there are several things off Skyline Drive that could be of interest. Of those, I would recommend Luray Caverns in Luray, Monticello and Rotunda/UVA in Charlottesville, Lee Chapel, VMI and "downtown" in Lexington, and Natural Bridge in Natural Bridge, VA. All of these together probably would take about 2 - 2.5 days to see.

while not must-sees or must-dos, the nearby area is home to several wineries. There are also several canoeing/cayaking outfits - not sure if it too cold in September.

Hope this helps,

Mike
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Old Aug 20th, 2004, 02:43 PM
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As a resident of the valley, I have to agree with retired teacher's suggestions. Dayton however is on route 42, a lovely drive, but check it on a map. Canoeing on the Shenandoah River is a fantastic trip. About ten years ago we did one trip on the river with friends, first time in a canoe, and loved it. Bought a canoe the same week and went up every weekend for the next five years 'til we moved to the valley. The canoe liveries are in Bentonville, 10 miles south of Luray on route 340. They will shuttle you upriver for six, twelve or more mile trips.
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