Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Shenandoah's Skyline Drive

Stretching 105 miles from its northern entrance at Front Royal to its southern entrance near Waynesboro is Shenandoah National Park.

Recently, we covered 30 miles of Skyline Drive, which extends the length of the Park. Shortly after connecting with Skyline Drive at the Thornton Gap Entrance, we stopped at one of the nearly 75 overlooks where we were greeted with the view shown in the three photos below (from south to north).

The overlooks provided the opportunity for studying both grand vistas and the small signs of beauty throughout the Park.

Shenandoah was established in 1935 "to provide the 'traditional western national park experience' to the urban east."

In 1914, conservationist John Muir described that experience as follows:
"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity; and that
mountainparks are useful, not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life" (Park Visitor Guide).

Some of the small scenes were striking, such as this tree and its dying branches,

while others conjure up thoughts of adventure, such as this trail, which we believe was part of the Appalachian Trail.

With a speed limit of 35 mph and frequent stops at overlooks, we were treated to
a number of the parts that make up the whole of what is Shenandoah National Park.

Although a haze--due more to air pollution than to low clouds or moisture--impaired visibility,

there is an eerie beauty to the outline of the ridges that, along with the valleys, make up this part of Virginia.

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