EPIC ROAD TRIP IDEAS
The Best Self-Driving Routes For Exploring Shenandoah
Shenandoah National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the east, and Skyline Drive is one of America’s favorite mountain drives. Cresting the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains, it is the only route through Shenandoah National Park. At 105 miles long, the Drive has four entrance points with connections to epic experiences in all directions.
With the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Alleghany Mountains to the west, the Shenandoah Valley is filled with natural beauty, charming small towns, and delicious dining. This is the year to check off your bucket list: travel a national scenic byway, hike a summit peak, explore an underground cavern, ride horses through the forest, and paddle a legendary waterway – all in a single day, if you want. To the east is Virginia’s Piedmont area, where vineyards, antique shops, and art galleries abound. With so many options, sometimes it’s nice to have an idea of how to break the trip into manageable parts – we’ve come up with a few self-driving routes to get you started.
Ready to get exploring? Take your pick. Each one of these routes is packed with epic experiences.
Ride The Sky
Shenandoah National Park is known for spectacular panoramic views along Skyline Drive, a 105-mile National Scenic Byway that traverses the entire length of the park. Located along the crest of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Skyline Drive is often voted one of the best mountain drives in the United States. Along the Drive, enjoy 75 overlooks — and relax with breathtaking views of the Shenandoah Valley and the Virginia Piedmont.Plan My Trip!
Four entrances mark the three different districts of Shenandoah National Park. The Northern District extends from the Front Royal Entrance Station to the Thornton Gap Entrance Station, U.S. 340 to U.S. 211. On this itinerary, you'll also weave in and out of the gateway towns of Front Royal, Strasburg, Sperryville, and Linden.Plan My Trip!
The Central District extends from the Thornton Gap U.S. 211 to Swift Run Gap at U.S. 33. The overlooks in this Central District are absolutely incredible, and it is home to some of the most popular attractions in the park including BIg Meadows, Byrd Visitor Center, and Skyland Resort. Gateway communities on this itinerary include New Market, Stanley, and Luray.Plan My Trip!
The Southern District features waterfalls, swimming holes, and rock outcroppings with outstanding views of the Shenandoah Valley. The Southern District extends from the Swift Run Gap Entrance Station to the Rockfish Gap Entrance Station. Gateway communities included in this itinerary include Staunton, Waynesboro, Elkton, Harrisonburg, Crozet, and Charlottesville.Plan My Trip!
Southern Shenandoah Valley & Blue Ridge Parkway
Just south of Skyline Drive, the Parkway winds its way 469 miles through mountain meadows and past seemingly endless vistas. Split-rail fences, old farmsteads and historic structures complement spectacular views of distant mountains and the Shenandoah Valley. Outstanding scenery and recreational opportunities make the Blue Ridge Parkway one of the most popular units of the National Park System.Plan My Trip!