by Patressa Kerns
A tour down Skyline Drive is one of the most popular trips in the Shenandoah Valley—for three seasons.
But have you tried it in winter?
A winter tour of Skyline Drive? Isn’t it full of snow and ice?
Well, sometimes, yes. And Skyline Drive can be fully or partially closed because of the weather conditions, with little notice. You can check by calling 540-999-3500, press 1, then press 1 again. But when conditions allow, and they often do, a winter ride down the 105-mile Skyline Drive can present a starkly beautiful view of Shenandoah National Park.
Waterfalls may be fully frozen. Spectacular mountain views are extended with the leaves down. Crowds are nonexistent. Treetops sparkling with fresh snow and ice make for breathtaking photo opportunities.
And while storms can close the road, the National Park Service usually gets them cleared quickly. And of course there are many days with no snow or ice at all. A study of snowfall over a 12-year period in the Park showed an average of just 8.2 inches in the month of December, with temperatures ranging between 23 and 39F. If you keep an eye on the weather and drive cautiously, a winter tour of Skyline Drive is a unique getaway at a hectic time of year.
Moreover, there are several Valley towns easily accessible from the Drive’s four entry/exit points. While most facilities and accommodations on the Drive are closed in December, lodging, dining, Christmas shopping and more are easily found just off the Drive. Many suggestions may be found here.