Shenandoah National Park’s famous Skyline Drive is a gorgeous bucket-list ride for motorcyclists, especially in the fall.
by Jonathan B. Slater, attorney Burnett & Williams P.C. Orange, Culpeper, Charlottesville
The only public road through Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park is the breathtaking Skyline Drive: 105 motorcycle-perfect miles of twists and turns along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you’re a biker looking for a perfect fall ride, this may be it. You can still be treated to glorious foliage, and plenty of wildlife — black bear, wild turkey, and deer are just a few of the critters that you may catch a glimpse of as you cruise the road or stop at one of the roughly 70 scenic overlooks the park offers.
This fantastic ride is just 80 miles west of the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC, making it a perfect weekend getaway destination, or a good place for a Sunday outing. You can hop on or off of Skyline Drive in four spots: near Front Royal; between Luray and Sperryville; at Swift Run Gap; and just east of Waynesboro. To make finding your way easy, you can download a digital map to your phone.
What to expect
The speed limit on the Skyline roadway is an enjoyably slow 35 miles per hour, meaning the journey is meant to be a leisurely one. If you drive the full length of the road — the 105 miles that meander between Front Royal and Waynesboro — without stopping, it will take you about three hours. But if you choose to take plenty of time to take it all in, there are great places to stay in and near the park, including camping spots, and plenty of hiking trails and stream fishing to enjoy along the route.
One thing to keep in mind is that there is a fee to use Skyline Drive. A motorcycle pass costs $25, and is good for 7 days. If you think you might like to bike Skyline in all seasons, the $55 annual pass might be a worthwhile investment.
As always, motorcyclists need to be vigilant about their safety when out on the road. While only 3% of all registered vehicles in the US are motorcycles, motorcyclists account for somewhere around 14% of all US traffic fatalities. If you’re a biker that’s a scary statistic, but the good news is that there are things you can do to help protect yourself from accident injury. Investing in a high-quality new helmet is a must — look for the DOT sticker, which means that the helmet meets safety standards required by law. And always wear sturdy boots and as much protective leather or kevlar biking gear as possible: pants, jackets, gloves. High-quality protective gear is an investment, but if you ever are in a bad crash it could save your life.
As all bikers know, when you’re on a motorcycle you should never assume that other drivers see you. Bike defensively, by staying out of cars’ blindspots, and by keeping your movements predictable and never weaving in and out of traffic. Be on vigilant lookout for road hazards like gravel, manhole covers, or train tracks that wouldn’t be an issue for a car or truck, but could cause a motorcycle crash. And as with any other motor vehicle, don’t drive too fast, stay attentive to the road and your surroundings, never drink and ride, and use your headlights at all times.
We here at Burnett & Williams wish you many days of happy and safe cycling. If you ever are unlucky enough to be seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, don’t hesitate to call us at (703) 777-1650, or contact us on the web; we are here to offer you a free consultation and to help any way we can.