The Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley courtesy of

Heading to a concert in southwest Virginia, we took the scenic route of 211 West. And it is just that: scenic. The winding road with horseshoe-shaped curves crisscrosses its way up one side of a mountain and then down again.

Signage courtesy of the National Park Service tells us that the road passes through Shenandoah National Park.

At the higher altitudes, the temperatures have not yet been conducive for the budding of the trees. That enabled me to glance through the leafless boughs to an adjacent mountain.

I noticed a strip of bareness on the other mountain and was attempting to figure out what it was. Some type of logging going on, perhaps?

Later I realized it was a road, and in fact, was a famous road called Skyline Drive. According to, “Skyline Drive is a National Scenic Byway in Virginia that runs 105 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains.” The starting point is in Front Royal and the endpoint is at Waynesboro. Skyline Drive serves as the only public road through Shenandoah National Park, and there are just four access points to the road.

So if you’re not at one of the access points, you literally can’t get there from there.

Since the speed limit is 35 mph through the park, it takes at least three hours to drive from start to finish. I say “at least” because there are 75 overlooks that provide magnificent views of the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains (such as the photo at the top of this post).

Skyline Drive is a huge people-draw in the fall when nature paints a stunning array of reds, yellows, oranges, and browns in seemingly endless hues. The “leafers” come out to take in the spectacular sights.

As my husband and I headed southwest on 211, our path and Skyline Drive eventually intersected. The tiny strip of bareness I had seen transformed into an overpass above my head. The directions to our destination called for us to stay straight, but there was a moment of hesitation in my mind where I nearly called out, “Let’s turn right!”

As we drove on straight, it occurred to me that had the trees’ spring foliage begun, I could not have seen that speck of bareness that eventually made me aware of the intersection ahead. So even though our trip over the mountain in mid-March provided a stark landscape, I was happy for that moment of insight.

Just as on the conceptual road of life in the bleakest of our seasons, we may experience times of absolute clarity that we would have otherwise missed if the view had been spectacular.


Information from Skyline Drive’s site