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Old 09-06-07, 09:16 PM   #1
Greyfox2
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Skyline Parkway

Does anyone have any experience with the Skyline Drive in Virginia? We're considering a weekend trip this fall.
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Old 09-07-07, 04:59 AM   #2
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I used to live near there but have never done any biking. Beware that it gets cold up there in a hurry. It used to be possible to see snow on your car in the morning and swim in Virginia Beach in the afternoon.

Not unreasonable for Californians but a little interesting for those of us in the east.
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Old 09-07-07, 05:02 AM   #3
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there can be a lot of car traffic in leaf season on the weekends. you might have less traffic farther south on the blue ridge parkway. scenery and riding is roughly the same. services are limited along both roads and its a long way down (and back up!) to any towns

grades are not steep but are long. some climbs are 6 miles, maybe more.

I've ridden pretty much the whole blue ridge parkway and skyline drive but it was a long time ago. If you have any specific q's ask -- I might still remember
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Old 09-07-07, 08:24 AM   #4
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Great riding there - though in peak color season I'd try to avoid Skyline Drive. I rode about 20 miles of the Parkway a couple of weeks ago as part of the Blue Ridge Extreme century ride (metric in my case) - I was surprised by the lack of traffic. This was further south than Skyline - near Waynesboro. Highly recommended!
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Old 09-07-07, 09:04 AM   #5
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I live about 20 miles from Skyline Drive. The leaf season will definitely bring out cars. I agree that the Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects with Skyline Drive at Afton Mountain, would likely be a better bet for quieter riding.

However, I would add that many of the roads in the nearby Shenandoah Valley offer some wonderful riding. PM if you want and I'd be happy to help identify some routes for you.
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Old 09-07-07, 06:12 PM   #6
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If there are a lot of cars on the road, is there at least a decent shoulder to work with?
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Old 09-07-07, 07:15 PM   #7
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Although I currently live in NY I moved here from VA. I rode the Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway a lot. I agree that the SD can be busier and there is a fee to use it for cars. One memorable ride for me was just north of Mill Mountain (Roanoke VA) to the Peaks of Otter lodge and then back the next day. Several long climbs but a great ride. The lodge had a very nice all you can eat buffet. I also like Massanutten to Skyland - a nice lunch in the resturant and then back home again, also some long climbs and I have been snowed on as late a early April near Skyland. Both the paarkway and the SD haev a fair shoulder, traffic is limited in speed and there are a lot of pull offs. The problem is people don't watch the road very well (as they are gawking at the scenery) and there can be a lot of big campers.
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Old 09-10-07, 06:22 PM   #8
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Thanks to everyone for their replies. Based on your collective wisdom we've decided that we want to do Skyline Drive but not at the time of year we were considering. We're going to try it in the spring. Sounds like a great trip.
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Old 09-10-07, 09:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greyfox2 View Post
If there are a lot of cars on the road, is there at least a decent shoulder to work with?
I wish--but no.
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Old 09-10-07, 09:45 PM   #10
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Be aware that although water and restrooms are relatively available, food and
accommodations can be sparse while up on the ridge, necessitating drops into
the valley on either side. You need to research this when planning the ride
if an overniter is being considered in a car free state. My one venture, long ago,
when I naively planned a trip from Dulles to Bham on the Blue Ridge, was young
and in excellent shape, banged up against this in early Oct when I realized that
my lightly loaded bike (15-18#) was going way too slow up the long hills. I got
down in the Shenandoah and was able to do the 80-100mi/day I needed to do until
rain set in in Ashville and I bailed, flying to Atlanta and biking home from there with
one day to spare out of my 10day planned trip.
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Old 09-11-07, 06:53 AM   #11
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There was a great thread on the long distance forum last year about a guy who rode the Blue Ridge - it can be found here: Blue Ridge Parkway...end to end. He has a link to a blog - a great read with nice pictures.
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Old 09-11-07, 10:56 AM   #12
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Spring is good. Personally, I like mid-June, 'cause traffic isn't too bad, a lot of the azalea, laurel, etc., are blooming, and weather is pretty mild.

Traffic's always worse in leaf season and major summer holidays, but in general the further south (i.e. away from DC) you get, the better it is. In my opinion, once you get south of Skyland, it's not too bad. The park speed limit is 35, so *most* people aren't in too big of a hurry. Still, it's not unusual for a huge RV to pass at a bad time and put the squeeze on you when a car comes from the other direction. Apart from regional population centers, (e.g. Roanoke) traffic drops off quite a bit once you get to the Blue Ridge Parkway (i.e. south of the park).

For the cyclist, hiker, or camper, another annoyance this time of year is gnat season. I don't know just when, but it seems like sometime in July or August they get thick. As soon as you stop, there's instantly a swarm all around you. They disappear when it cools off a little. They aren't as much of a problem on the parkway.

Last edited by roadbuzz; 09-11-07 at 11:04 AM.
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Old 09-11-07, 11:18 AM   #13
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Roadbuzz,

I was really surprised at the Blue Ridge Extreme event how little traffic was on the BRP. Definitely worth a trip - though I'd stay clear of Skyline for the next month or so.
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Old 09-11-07, 07:04 PM   #14
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Roadbuzz,

I was really surprised at the Blue Ridge Extreme event how little traffic was on the BRP. Definitely worth a trip - though I'd stay clear of Skyline for the next month or so.
Glad you enjoyed it. I was rest stop captain at the stop atop the Vesuvius climb. We got sooooo lucky with the weather this year. And you're right, traffic was pretty low on the BRP that day.

Well, you can stay clear... I ride from my house up to Big Meadows or Skyland and back pretty much every Sat. morning this time of year. Skyline isn't the problem, it's the first few miles of the climb along 33 headed up to Swift Run Gap that are awful. And, frankly, at least at the times and on the sections I ride, the traffic on Skyline and shoulder width are no worse, if not better, than most of the county roads I ride on.
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