This post is in partnership with Visit Shenandoah Valley who hosted our visit. All opinions are my own. You can read my full Disclosure Policy here.
If you’ve checked out my other posts on our visit to the Shenandoah Valley, you can see how much there is to do here and how fun it is for families. There was one thing we enjoyed so much that we did it twice, and that was drive a portion of Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park.
Shenadoah National Park includes 190K+ acres of protected wilderness through Western Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you’re outdoorsy, add it to your travel bucket list.
To be quite honest, I’m not exactly the most outdoorsy person I know, but I can appreciate a spectacular view. So while Shenandoah National Park offers amazing hiking and camping experiences (there are over 500 trails!), my family chose to experience it with a drive on Skyline Drive.
Skyline Drive is the road that spans the entire length of the Park, for 105 miles north to south. It’s the only public road through Shenandoah National Park, and there are just a handful of entrances to get on it. There is a fee to drive the road and access the Park, but it’s not steep and it’s totally worth it.
The speed limit stays low through the entire length of Skyline Drive (I am trying to remember and I think it’s 35mph). This is an incredibly scenic drive so you don’t want to rush it anyway.
Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife (see some of our pics below!), and enjoy all of the pull-off areas where you can park and get out of the car to take in the view. Do NOT forget your camera!
Views from Skyline Drive
We drove on different portions of Skyline Drive on two different days. One day we were there during beautiful weather in the morning, and the other day that we visited it was later in the evening and more overcast. We saw difference sights each time we went, so if you have the opportunity to visit more than once, I’d suggest doing the same!
Most of the pull-offs have a rock wall like this one, probably to prevent people from falling down the mountain, but it makes for a great step to stand on and enjoy the view.
The shadows the clouds create on the mountains are gorgeous, aren’t they? I love this view. Some of my other favorite photos are below:
At one of the pull-offs there was a big rock formation that my kids went right for and climbed to the top. Because of the frequent opportunities to get out and run, climb up on those rock walls, and (ahem, #boymom) throw rocks, the kids enjoyed this drive as much as my husband and I did.
There are many places to stop and go down a trail for a hike. We ventured down one for about 10 minutes, and then turned to come back. Don’t forget when you’re going downhill that the way back is all uphill!
Wildlife in Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park is home to wildlife galore, so keep your eyes peeled both to enjoy what you see, and for your own safety.
We saw several deer along the sides of the road. One of the more unique animals we saw was a great horned owl! I wasn’t ready with the camera so I don’t have a photo of that, but he flew over us and landed on a tree branch. I’ve never seen one in the wild before and they are pretty stunning!
Let me tell you the story of the copperhead snake. (Yuk.) We were stopped at one of the pull-offs to enjoy the view, and my husband called out that he had found a snake tucked on the inside of the rock wall that we were all walking along.
I ran to the car (I don’t do snakes) and the kids ran to him to check it out. They came back with this photo, and of course I kinda freaked out. Copperheads, as you probably know, are poisonous and very dangerous. A word of caution: Watch out for creatures like this one and husbands and kids that are too adventurous for their own good.
This furry guy is more my speed. We saw a cute little black bear romping around in the woods. He was hidden pretty well behind the foliage so I couldn’t get a super clear photo of him, but you get the idea. Pretty neat to see a bear in the wild!
This mama and baby deer are DEFINITELY my kind of wildlife. So sweet!
Visit the Shenandoah National Park website to learn more about what other adventure there is to be had in this gorgeous Park! Be sure to browse the Visit Shenandoah Valley website for more tips on what to else there is to do while you’re in the area.
More Shenandoah Valley Posts:
- Natural Bridge, Virginia: A Photo Tour
- Massanutten Resort Review: Family Adventure in the Shenandoah Valley
- Grand Caverns In Virginia: A Photo Tour
- Amazing Animal Interactions at Virginia Safari Park
- Skyline Drive Through Shenandoah National Park