Skyline Drive – South Entrance
July 11-12, 2007 – Many times during our trip up the Blue Ridge Parkway, I was told to be sure not to miss Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive that starts close to where the parkway ends. I didn’t realize how close it was, because we ended up on Skyline Drive before we realized we were really off the Parkway. This was the last leg of the trip for me and mom.
Mom and I were celebrating seeing every one of the 469 mileposts of the parkway when we found ourselves at the gate entering Shenandoah. There was nowhere to turn around in my 36′ motorhome without unhooking the car right there, so the ranger told me there are several turnoffs that I could use to change direction. To further complicate matters, it was foggy and starting to rain and I knew that would slow us down even more. I wasn’t particularly happy about this turn of events at first because it’s pretty slow going with a speed limit of 35 mph. Mom’s plane home was leaving Richmond on the 14th and we had planned to head straight there.
Once we got to this pull-off, though, all complaints had ceased and we just stood there in awe expressing thanks for the clouds that were putting on this kind of show for us.
The clouds were so near the road we could practically touch them and we were thrilled to be able to just watch them drift by. We called this Clouds on Parade.
Even the ones that were farther away and clung to the valley made this stop one of the most special we’d experienced so far.
We then decided to just press on and spend the night at Loft Mountain, the first National Park campground from this entrance about 25 miles up the road.
Here’s a panoramic shot that still doesn’t do justice to the expansive beauty of this day.
The next day we were better rested and when we stopped at this pull-off, Mom said now she could say she walked part of the Appalachian Trail!
The sun was out more today and the daisies seemed to be happily celebrating that. The wildflowers alongside the road and in the foreground of views like this was an extra treat for the eyes.
My mom always got real nervous when I got close to the edge like this, but I never could resist and she took the shots anyway.
When we finally took off down the road again we were laughing at the good luck of this “mistake” of a stop and were so glad that we took that extra day for the Skyline Drive.
2018 note: When I was updating these pages, it hit me that even though we didn’t know it then, that turned out to be the last trip my mom was able to join me on. Her health really started to deteriorate more after 2008 and she died on November 23, 2014.
I did a Memories of my Mama memorial page that outlined some of the travels we did together starting in 2002, including Alaska and many others. In one of the talks we had not long before her death, she said she wanted me to know that these trips were her absolute favorite memories and she thanked me profusely for taking her along. It wasn’t always the easiest thing traveling with her, but the only regret I have now is that we weren’t able to do more.