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Shenandoah National Park And Sky Line Drive
Skyline Drive Video
Guide: Hiking Shenandoah National Park
Planning Your Trip To The Shenandoah Valley
If you like being outdoors and seeing natural beauty, you will love the Shenandoah valley.
There are tons of mountain trails to explore, a plethora of wildlife to see, caverns to tour and educational activities everywhere!
The Fall is a beautiful time to come to the Shenandoah Valley. The mountains are covered in trees. They turn a variety of eye-catching colors in the Autumn.
The Mountains are a little cooler than lower elevations. I would say the mountain tops are around 5-10 degrees cooler than the valleys below.
If you would like, you could bring a picnic lunch to eat at one of the many picnic areas. If you are lucky, you may see a deer walk past you while you are eating.
Be careful to pick up behind yourself because any food left at the picnic areas will attract bears.
They do have garbage bins located close the the public restrooms and Rangers stations that lock so the bears cannot get into them.
The restrooms by the Rangers stations are clean and well stocked.
Skyline Drive Map
The scenic road that follows the Shenandoah's mountain ridge is called Skyline Drive.
The cost to enter Skyline Drive is around $10 per car per visit or $30 for a year pass.
Once you get on Skyline drive, you can drive for around 100 miles and find dozens of trails, camp sites, Rangers Stations, picnic areas and scenic overviews.
If you are coming from Front Royal, Virginia, the first Ranger station you will find will be Dickey Ridge.
Skyline Drive extends from Front Royal, Virginia to Waynesboro, VA.
The Skyline Drive extends for 105 miles over the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Anthodites within Skyline Caverns, Virginia
Caverns In The Shenandoah Mountains
Skyline Caverns - You can find Skyline Caverns about a mile or two from the entrance of skyline drive. Admission is free for kids under 6 years of age. Adults cost $18 each for the tour, but you can get a $2 discount per adult for showing your military ID or AAA card. Skyline Cavern has a plenitude of stalactites and stalagmites for you to view. They have an underground pond with fish in the cavern. Many famous people have toured this cavern, including: Clint Eastwood and Redskins Football players to name a few. Anthrodites (see the picture to the right) grow one inch every 700 years. Very rare. Only grow in air pockets found deep under the ground. I saw these on the skyline cavern tour when we were 260 feet under the surface of the Earth! The oils/acid on our fingers can cause a stalagmite or stalactite to stop growing.
Luray Caverns - This cavern is a lot like Skyline Cavern, but it is about an hour from the Skyline Drive Entrance in the town of Luray. Bring your Giant card to get 50% off the price of the second adult!
Things To Bring On Your Trip To The Shenandoah Valley
Things To Bring
Map Of Trails
Have You Seen A Bear In The Wild?
Dickey Ridge is the first Ranger Station you will find when you are entering Skyline Drive from Front Royal. At Dickey Ridge, you will find:
- Water fountains
- Ranger Station
- A Small Store
- Picnic tables
The restrooms are well maintained and stocked regularly. The water fountains are made for people and have a faucet on the bottom for dogs!
The Ranger Station has a beautiful view of the mountains. There are normally 2-3 Rangers inside who can help you with any questions you may have and will guide you to the trails that you would like to hike on.
In the Ranger station, you will find a small store that contains books, coins, National Park Passport books, maps, kids hiking tools, calendars and puzzles. Everything in the store relates to the Shenandoah valley.
On the other side of the Rangers station, you will find a museum (in the same building) that contains facts about the Shenandoah valley and descriptions of many of its wildlife. There is a 3-D model of the Shenandoah Valley. The kids will love pushing the buttons to make different trails light up on the model.
Past the museum, you will find a small theater that shows a 10-15 minute long movie on the Shenandoah mountains.
If you cross the street from the Rangers Station, you will find kid-friendly trails. There are tons of raspberry bushes along the trails which are OK to eat from. Watch out for bears though! We saw a baby Black Bear while on our trail. We turned around to go on another trail and were informed that there 3 baby bears and a momma bear on the other trail. We didn't hike any further that day!
When you leave the Ranger station and pass the restrooms (on foot), you will see a small trail that leads back to a picnic area which contains lots of picnic tables and a few stand-alone grills for you to barbecue on and plenty of shade from the trees hovering above. Be careful not to leave any food behind when you are done because it will attract bears to the picnic area.
If you would like a map to follow, you could buy one at the beginning of the trails across the street for $1 or in the Ranger station or you could get them when you first enter Skyline Drive where you pay to enter. They also have painted markers along the trails to make sure you are on the right track.
Views From Skyline Drive
Animals You Can Find In The Shenandoah Valley
While in the Shenandoah Valley, you will see wildlife everywhere. Some of the animals and bugs that you will see are:
- Black Bears - Watch out for them. If there is a baby bear, the momma bear is close by.
- Snakes -They like to be on warm areas like rocks or cement.
- Ground hogs
- Deer - We had one walk past us during our picnic there.
- Butterflies - In the fields.
- June Bugs -These bugs are huge!
Things To Do In The Shenandoah Valley
- Hiking in the Mountains
- Touring Caverns
- Seeing the wildlife
Front Royal, Virginia
Front Royal is a small mountain town located at the beginning of Skyline Drive.
It is large enough to have a many different types of local and national restaurant chains, hotels and gas stations.
Picture Of Front Royal
Video Of Shenandoah Valley
Things to Bring To The Shenandoah Valley
Here is a short list of things to bring with you to the Shenandoah Valley:
- Bug Spray
- Comfortable Walking Shoes
- Ziploc Bags - to place garbage in until you reach a garbage can
- Money (for Entrance Fee, Shops and Maps)
- Whistle (to scare away wild animals)