Posts Tagged ‘Skyline Drive’

Front Royal sets at the northern end of Skyline Drive one of the premier motorcycling destinations on the east coast.  Thousands of motorcyclists pass through Front Royal on their way to Skyline Drive or to parts unknow as they leave the Drive.  At most they spend a night in town before heading on their way.

However, riders should spend a day or two riding in the Front Royal area. There are more than a few great riding roads and routes that will appeal to every motorcycle rider. Adventure bikers, you can check out the availability of roads in the Geroge Washington National Forest as some become open to motorcycles, there is even a Jeep “Trail of Honor” that will put your skills to the test.

Fort Valley was first surveyed by George Washington in 1748. Washington would later make plans for Fort Valley to be his winter retreat, had the revolutionary army been defeated, as it has a lot of natural defensive features.

Between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, the valley was a major source of pig iron for the new nation. During the Civil War the mountains surrounding the valley served as observation post for the Confederate Army, overlooking multiple local battles.

Canyon Carving and Valley Riding

One of the best kept motorcycle riding roads is Fort Valley Road.  A ride that is part canyon carving and chill’n valley riding.  The ride will take about 2-3 hours, depending on how often you stop to take pictures or visit some of the local attractions along the way.

Once you turn onto Fort Valley Road it just a few minutes before you are whipping your motorcycle through a tight canyon.  Rock wall cliffs on one side and a sharp drop into creek on the other will keep you attention very tightly focused.  After a while, that canyon passage will open into a farming valley.

You will ride for miles through a mix of green and amber fields intermixed with forest treescapes. This is part of the ride that will have you setting back and admiring the views of the steep mountains to your left and right and the family farms you motorcycling though. 

But before long you are at the southern end of the valley where you will encounter an unmarked section of the road.  This part of Fort Valley Road is a steep climb out of the valley through twists and tight hairpin curves. As soon as you crest the top of the mountain you will begin a just as steep drop to the bottom of the mountain.  The views of the Shenandoah Valley as you descend can be quite awesome.

Once at the bottom you will leave Fort Valley Road and make your way back to Front Royal via US 340.  You will find that when you get back you just might want to do this loop a second time.

Local Highlights along the ride:

Front Royal Visitors Center

George Washington National Forest

Fort Valley Museum (open irregularly)

Skyline Caverns

The route:

From the Front Royal Visitors Center

Right on Main Street

Right on Royal Street = US 55 and 340

Left on Quadrant Road = US 55 (as you cross the bridge)

Left on Strasburg Road = US 55

Left on Fort Valley Road = VA 678

Straight on Fort Valley Road / Camp Roosevelt Road = VA 675

Left on North Egypt Bend Road = VA 684

Right on Bixlers Ferry Road = VA 675

Left on North Broad Street = US 340

Right on Main Street Front Royal

We have not been getting out on the motorcycle a lot, nowhere near what I want. Between work (new job) and life (covid, weddings, etc.) I am way behind on this year’s riding.  I hope to change that with less than half the year remaining.

But we did get the motorcycle out for good ride a few weekends ago.

That morning we set out with new helmets (Harley Davidson/Sena Outrush), new jackets and I had a new pair of Kevlar lined riding pants.  Each of those products will get a separate post. For this motorcycle ride there was no real destination, I had only a road to start on, “Fort Valley Road” or State Road 678.  

Fort Valley Road is, at the start, a quite twisty road with stone cliffs on one side and a drop into Passage Creek on the other. After a while the valley widens to allow for farmland and the road goes from twisty to rolling hills with a few tight turns thrown in for fun.

We rode Fort Valley Road to the end and then made our way into Luray, VA. Riding through downtown Luray it is evident that we need to come back and spend some time here.

Taking State Route 211 out of Luray, we crossed through Shenandoah National Park, and under Skyline Drive.  The ride up and down the mountain is normally spectacular, this day not so much.  There has been a lot of thunderstorms recently and there were several places where gravel had washed onto the road requiring slower speeds and more attention.  In one spot there was several inches of water running across the road.

After coming off the mountain we decided to ride over to Culpepper, VA for lunch. Culpepper is another of those small towns in which we need to spend some time.  That day we did not get to lunch in town as every spot we checked had a line and many were closed (it was a Sunday).

By now the day was getting quite warm, it was over 90F. Luckily our route back to home was via a scenic mostly tree covered route.   We did not take a direct route but wandered through a dozen back roads until we ended back in Front Royal.

It was an awesome day to be out on a motorcycle ride!

Ride On, Ride Safe

We were able to sneak out for about 2-hour motorcycle ride this past weekend.  Still a lot going on in life/work, so I am just happy to get out on the motorcycle.

Motorcycling around Front Royal, VA and the surrounding area is a lot of fun.  More than a few nice places as destinations and more than a few good country roads to ride.

We even got up on Skyline Drive for a short ride. The leaves have not yet reappeared on the trees, so the views were spectacular!

The curiosity of the day was the “Audi” Can Am Spyder.  The reality was the guy was not happy with the big, black, empty area on the front of his trike and put the Audi badge there.  It was a neat conversation starter.
Ride on, Ride safe

I though I would try my hand at video recording my travels.  This ride I wanted to “shoot the gap”, the southern gap of Skyline Drive.

There are two places along Skyline Drive where you can ride your motorcycle under the parkway, after going up a twisty mountain road and of course back down the other side.  I had never ridden the southern gap so now was the time.

As you can see in the video it was a wonderful day to ride a motorcycle.  Setting out from my home in Front Royal with a clear, bright, blue sky and a cool but comfortable temperature just made for a perfect journey.  Low traffic in the Shenandoah Valley provided little impedance, except for the deer and her three fawns.  I had to stop and let them cross, woe is me riding in the country. 

So why 150 in 9?  This was a 3-hour ride, but my batteries died after 2 ½ hours.  NO ONE wants to watch a 150-minute ride with no commentary, I have not figured that one out yet, so I set it to fast forward and got the whole thing down to 9 minutes.

Hope you enjoy.


Ride on, Ride Safe


We pulled out of our driveway on a cool, crisp Friday morning for a long weekend motorcycle ride.  By cool & crisp I mean 51 degrees Fahrenheit, a little less with wind chill, of course. We knew it was going to be at least that or a bit less on Skyline Drive.

We had decked ourselves out in appropriate clothing and closed the vents of the Harley Davidson Ultra Limited, so the chill was not very noticeable. Otherwise, the sun was out with blue sky all about and traffic out of town was quite light.

It took us about an hour to get from home to the northern terminus of Skyline Drive in Front Royal, Virginia. I really think that the state could do a bit better job of signage to get people to the park.  I knew where it was but, until you are right upon it the signs are few and far between.

A lot of motorcycles on the road!

Once we were on Skyline Drive the cool air got a bit cooler! There was nearly a 10-degree difference from the valley to the top of the mountain.  While we did notice it, and I turned on the heated grips, the motorcycle seemed to love the cool air and purred as it rolled up, down and around the ridge.

The leaves had not yet started to change colors or drop from the trees, but the greens were awesome to view. I do have another complaint, maybe it is a by-product of Covid 2020 but several of the overlooks really did not overlook.  The trees and bush build up limited the view on some of the stops.   Only a minor disappointment as the day was so nice!

We reached the southern terminus of the parkway late afternoon and headed to our hotel in Charlottesville, VA. The next day we went to some local site like Monticello. Our return tip was via the American BywayJourney Through Hallowed Ground Byway”, which will be documented on another post.

It was our anniversary by the way!

Skyline Drive by motorcycle really shows that the adage “Riding in car is like watching a movie. Riding on a motorcycle is like being in the movie” is absolutely true.

If you live on the east coast this ride needs to be on your bucket list.

Ride On, Ride Safe

american byway

Interactive map of American Byways

A few years ago, I wrote about a website the federal government got right, their “America’s Byways” website.

What I did not know, at that time, was that the authorization for identifying and creating new byways had expired in 2012. From 1991 until 2012 nearly 150 roads were defined as an American Byway or an All American Road.

Now, it turns out, that both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed the “Reviving America’s Scenic Byways Act” and it is now with the president to sign. And who said that they could not work together to make something happen.

This act requires the Secretary of Transportation to seek nominations for and eventually make a decision of those roads that can be added to the list. This program also provides resources to those communities along the roads to help further improve the byways.

plan a motorcycle ride

American Byways info page

This website is a great source in helping plan a future ride. We have used it and have rode several of these byways ourselves including: The Highland Scenic Highway, George Washington Heritage Trail, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Northwestern Turnpike, Skyline Drive and the Natchez Trace among others.

For those of us that like these roads a special thanks must to go out to the American Motorcyclist Association. The AMA is part of the coalition that has gotten us to the point of renewing a government program that actually works.

plan a motorcycle ride

American Byway map page

A bit ago my wife, Debbie, and I along with our friends Tim and Karma rode the length of Skyline Drive on our motorcycles. We made the ride

Pit stop in Front Royal, VA

before the leaves appear from their winter hibernation and the views from the drive were nothing but spectacular!

As we left Tim and Karma’s home the morning was crisp, cool, bright and sunny, it appeared that we had a great day form riding ahead of us. Mostly taking the small roads, it took a little over an hour to ride to Front Royal, VA, which is the northern terminus of the national park. When we arrived at Front Royal we stopped to top of the bikes (there is only three gas stations on Skyline Drive) and goofed off for a few minutes.

Getting back on the road, we immediately made a wrong turn and missed the Front Royal park entrance. That wrong turn became a disguised blessing as we got to ride up Thornton Gap to the next Skyline Drive entry point. Thornton Gap (US Route 211) is a twisty bit of motorcycle heaven, enough so that it warrants a special sign at the bottom to warn bikers that this is a high crash area. I HIGHLY recommend that if you are riding Skyline Drive that you jump off to ride this bit of highway!

Ijustwant2ride.comOnce on the parkway it turns out this ride was better than most of our trips to the park. Very little traffic, no park police, awesome views everywhere you looked and great friends made this a special day to ride. We stopped often to admire the panoramic views, but with 75 overlooks into the valleys below trying to stop at them all it would make for a very long day. With the stunning country view and nary a metropolitan area in sight, is hard to believe that we are less than 100 miles from the Washington DC rat race.

I have come to the conclusion that early spring, before the leaves exploded into life, has to be the best time to ride Skyline drive. As note before we did not encounter a lot of cars but we did see a lot of other motorcyclist riding everything from sport bikes, café racers to other touring bikes.

The ride from Thornton Gap entrance to the southern end of the park took us about 3 ½ hours. Charlottesville and the University of Virginia are a short trip to the east and we decided to ride into to town and have a late lunch. The last time Debbie and I were in Charlottesville we were picking up our black Ultra Limited, which we traded a year later for our new blue Ultra Limited.

During our lunch we debated our route back finally settling on Route 15. The ride north to our respective homes was uneventful. All in all we sent about 8 hours and a bit over 350 miles in the saddle that day. Good friends, good rides make for a good day!


This past weekend my wife and I rode from our home in Leesburg to the New Market Civil War Battlefield.  We rode west on US Route 7 then took Route 340 south to Luray, VA. On the way we passed the interesting roadside attraction of Dinosaur Land.  The place was not open when we stopped for a photo op but it looked very cool for small kids! Image

After posing a few minutes with T-Rex we contained south on 340 passing through rolling farm county and small towns of the Shenandoah Valley.  The largest town we passed through was Front Royal, which is also the northern entrance to Skyline Drive. We have done the Skyline Drive before but I am sure we will do it again this summer, it is just a too nice a ride not to do it as often as possible. (Route 340 south of Front Royal is also known as the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Highway to honor the Civil War General.)

Rolling past Front Royal we soon arrived in Luray, VA and our next intersection.  Taking Route 211 west we passed the entrance to Luray Caverns, a US National Landmark.  We did not stop at the caverns on this trip but I am sure we will sometime in the future.


Crossing under I-81 on 211 we were immediately at the entrance to the Virginia Museum of the Civil War and New Market Battlefield.  From the website “The Virginia Museum of the Civil War (VMCW) interprets the 1864 Battle of New Market with emphasis on the role of Virginia Military Institute Cadets and the Civil War in Virginia.”  The museum was quite nice with small displays on most of the major engagements of the war which occurred in Virginia.  They also have a

A couple of hours later we hopped back on the bike and traced our route back north.  We deviated a bit by riding to Grove’s Harley Davidson in Winchester, VA.  We arrived at the dealership about 15 minutes from closing and did not stay too long.   I was hoping to look at their helmets as I am in the market for a new one.  30 minute video “The Field of Lost Shoes” that focused mainly on the boy soldiers of the Virginia Military Institute role in the battle.

Turing right out of the dealership we took US 50 east to State route 601 also called the “Secret Blue Ridge Mountain Northern Stretch”.  This is a twisty section of road that connects US 50 and US 7.  This is a great short ride and well worth the side trip.  The views from the mountain are limited by the forest but you should be concentrating on the road anyway, right!

Our trip was 166 miles round trip and lasted a bit more than 7 hours.  Debbie and I had a nice motorcycle ride together but we still need to figure out the intercom system!