Skyline Drive’s overlooks make the Shenandoah National Park arguably one of the best drives in the eastern US. Especially to see the amazing fall foliage.
The road and the park start just outside of Front Royal and stretch southward for 105 miles to Afton. Here is where the drive meets up with another favorite, the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Along Skyline Drive’s scenic roadway are 75 overlooks. To the west the Shenandoah Valley, while the Virginia Piedmont lies to the east.
As not all 75 overlooks are worth a stop, we’ve narrowed down the overlooks most memorable for us. Running from north to south, this guide is divided into the three sections of the park and includes mile-markers to make the overlooks easy to find.
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The North District starts at the Front Royal Entrance Station, milepost 0.6. It concludes at milepost 31.5, the Thornton Gap Entrance Station.
Signal Knob Overlook (milepost 5.5, west facing)
Great view over the valley and Shenandoah river. However, it’s the sign that makes this a memorable stop for us. Images of this view from 1940, 1965 and 1997 clearly document the growth and development of the valley below over the years.
Thornton Hollow (milepost 27.5, east facing)
A fantastic sunrise spot and tied with the Point Overlook for our favorite overlook on Skyline Drive. It is wide with a gorgeous view of the expansive rolling mountains below. A perfectly posed tree sits in the foreground giving you an ideal focus feature.
Central District Overlooks, Shenandoah National Park
The Central District starts at milepost 31.5, Thornton Gap Entrance Station, and goes to the Swift Run Gap Entrance Station at milepost 65.7.
Only have time for one section of the park? In our opinion, the Central District has the most to offer, with the bulk of the best overlooks.
The overlooks in this part of the Shenandoah National Park are quite fantastic. Plus you have the Byrd Visitor Center, Skyland, and a some of the park’s best hikes.
Hazel Mountain Overlook (milepost 33, east facing)
Large rocks provide an excellent vantage point. Though, if you want to include the boulders in your photo composition, get there for sunrise to beat the hordes of rock posing tourists.
Jewell Hallow Overlook (milepost 36.5, west facing)
One of the larger overlooks. There are two parking lots with large boulders between them. We prefer the area vertical to Skyline drive. This overlook also has easy access to the Appalachian Trail.
Crescent Rock Overlook (milepost 44, west facing)
The overlook itself provides a decent view of Hawksbill Mountain, the highest peak in the park. However, what made this stop memorable for us is the little trail that provides a spectacular framed view of the mountain.
The trail is not the easiest to spot. It’s a little off to the right where there’s a mound of rocks. Walk up on the rocks and follow the trail behind it. You don’t need to go too far to see the little clearance.
Spitler Knoll Overlook (milepost 48, west facing)
For those counting, you’ll notice we’ve actually included 11 overlooks. Spitler Knoll wasn’t part of our original post. The overlook is not that exciting during the day. However, with its open field view, it’s one of the best places to catch sunset.
The Point Overlook (milepost 55.5, west facing)
Tied with Thornton Hallow for our favorite overlook in the park.
The Point Overlook has a little secret outcropping that’s easily overlooked if you don’t read the sign. At the gap in the wall, there is a short but very narrow and a tad steep trail. It takes less than five minutes to walk and leads to a rocky area with the most amazing views. It is probably the easiest “hike” with the most rewarding views.
Bonus, hardly anyone notices the path, so you may have it to yourself like we did.
South District Overlooks, Shenandoah National Park
The South District starts at milepost 65.7, the Swift Run Gap Entrance Station, and ends at milepost 105, Rockfish Gap Entrance Station. It is the longest stretch of the Skyline Drive.
Our favorite viewpoint in the South District is from one of the hiking trails. However, there are still plenty of overlooks in this section of the Shenandoah National Park that are worth a stop.
Bacon Hollow Overlook (milepost 69, east facing)
One of the best eastern facing views in the park. Just imagine looking out on a sea of reds, oranges, and yellows in fall.
Two Mile Run Overlook (milepost 76.0, west facing)
A tiny overlook with a great view of Massanutten Mountain about 10 miles out.
Sadly, so many of the trees in this area have died. We suspect these were the great Eastern Hemlock trees. A sap sucking pest plagued the trees a few years ago and destroyed 95% of the parks Eastern Hemlocks.
Rockytop Overlook (milepost 78.0, west facing)
The views from the Central and North Districts primarily overlook the Shenandoah Valley. The overlooks in the South District, like Rockytop, provide up close views of the surrounding mountainside.
Turk Mountain Overlook (milepost 93.5, west facing)
For some reason this gem of a spot is only an unnamed dot on the park’s map. There is however a sign from Skyline Drive indicating the pull in.
Rightly named, this overlook gives a fantastic view of the conical shaped Turk Mountain.
Where To Stay For The Shenandoah National Park
- To stay in the park you need to book through GoShenandoah.com. Expect high demand in summer and fall.
- Waynesboro is a good starting point for the southern entrance of the park. We stayed at the Hampton Inn.
- Hotel Madison in Harrisonburg is about 30 minutes away from the central entrance to the park.
- At the northern entrance of the park, TownePlace Suites by Marriott is a good option on the outskirts of Front Royal.
Books on the Shenandoah National Park
If you plan to spending more time in the Shenandoah National Park you may want to consider picking up a book or map on the area.
- We found the Falcon Guide to the Best and Easy Day Hikes in the Shenandoah National Park well worth the investment.
- National Geographic’s Map on the Shenandoah National Park provides a detailed view of roads and trails within the park.
- If you travel for waterfalls, you will need Larry W. Brown’s Guide to Waterfalls of the Shenandoah National Park