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  1. #1

    Default Skyline Drive & Blue Ridge Parkway

    Over from the UK doing a road trip in August. Have planned basic route but struggling once we've got to Gettysburg. Here's what I have so far.... Starting in Philly (2 nights) - down thru Delaware/Maryland (1 night somewhere by the coast before the bridge *any suggestions*) driving over the Ches' Bay bridge and onto to Williamsburg (1 night). Upto DC (2 or 3 nights). To Gettysburg (1 night). Head for Front Royal to start the Skyline Drive. I know the drive to FR is about 2 hours and onto Luray via the Skyline is another 1 1/2. Is it a good idea to stop and pick up a picnic in FR and hire some tubes before continuing to Luray, visiting caverns then checking into a hotel? From there we want to head for Peaks of Otter for another overnight. Is it a good idea driving the rest of the skyline and joining the BRP at the beginning? So long as we tube somewhere - Shen' or James River and sit in the mountains admiring the views with a picnic I'll be happy!
    From Peaks we're heading to Lake Norman, NC to finish our vacation relaxing with a boat (unless you know somewhere better?? - we're flying home from Charlotte). Any suggestions on the final leg of our route? - I get it to 3 1/2 hrs on mapquest. Any sites worth visiting on the way down?
    Look forward to any ideas, thanks, Nicola.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Skyline Drive

    A straight-through traverse of Skyline Drive is about four hours, allowing time for some scenery and stopping for a picnic - which I would recommend doing as there are many great locations for just that. There is some construction along the length of the Drive so be aware of the potential for certain overlooks to be closed due to repair. I would recommend taking the entire length of the road for the simple pleasure of the drive. It appears you have enough time to make the trip and the views and experience are well worth the added time as opposed to the Interstate.

    In between Gettysburg and Front Royal is Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, a place of historical significance and perhaps something you may be interested in.

  3. #3

    Default The language barrier......

    .........and we're each speaking English!

    Hello nicola,

    I'm afraid I'm mystified over the term "tubing". Seems to mean overnighting in a motel? In any event.....

    Be aware of a couple of items affecting your planning: You're planning to drive the length of the Delmarva Peninsula and cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (CBBT)into Norfolk/Va Beach. "Bridge-Tunnel" is the operative name, as Chesapeake Bay Bridge(s) is the term for the structure crossing the Bay just east of Annapolis, MD. Be aware of the traffic headaches from the south side of the CBBT, over the few miles of I-64, to the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) crossing under the mouth of Hampton Roads to the towns of Hampton, Newport News, and on up to Williamsburg. The HRBT is but 2 lanes each direction and traffic backs up for several miles daily between 3pm (when the day shifts at the shipyards and the main Navy Base end) and, say, 7pm, when the last of the white-collar commuters cross. If you can plan a mid-day crossing of the HRBT, you'll be glad you did. The afternoon traffic remains heavy to and beyond Williamsburg, too.

    As to the Skyline Drive (SD) and the Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP) I would not plan on an overall traveling speed in excess of 25-30 mph. The posted speed limits, strictly enforced, are nowhere greater than 45 mph, and plenty of segments post 35 and even 25 mph limits for short distances. The breakpoint where the SD ends and the BRP begins is at Rockfish Gap, where the ridgetop routes intersect I-64. From there to the Peaks of Otter is all BRP. I see Peaks of Otter lodge is about 85 miles south of Rockfish Gap, so figure on close to 3 hours with a few stops. From Peaks of Otter to Fancy Gap (mile 200), where you'd probably want to jump on I-77 to Lake Norman, is close to a 4 hour drive, with a few stops.

    At most any time of day and in any season, clouds can sock-in the SD and BRP. This is normally an regional condition which only dropping down in elevation cures, so keep your maps handy to determine the best way down to lower elevation to reach the highways roughly paralleling the parkways. Limping along at 15 mph in pea-soup fog isn't much fun.

    Safe travels, and enjoy your VA-NC RoadTrip!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Foy, You Have to Try It Sometime

    Tubing has nothing whatsoever to do with a motel. If you are old enough to remember the days before tubeless tires, large truck tires had correspondingly large inner tubes. When inflated, these make excellent one-person rafts for drifting down a river on a lazy summer's day. There's one tube for everyone in the group, and one or two for a cooler or two filled with snacks and, most importantly, libations. Thus "Tubing".


  5. #5

    Default Oh, good grief. I INVENTED tubing.............

    .........or at least I've done it for so long it feels as though I invented it.

    I've tubed rivers and creeks draining the east side of the Blue Ridge in VA and NC. Even more exciting (and downright dangerous) is winter tubing. At Appalachian State, we'd tube big, steep snow-covered meadows. Once you make a pass or two and pack it down, it's faster than greased lightning. Empirical studies show you can get 6 to 8 hippies on a single big truck tube.

    Man, that reference went directly over my head. Tubing the Shenandoah or the James, of course!


  6. #6


    Thanks for your response. My son tells me I'm trying to sound American saying 'tubing' - although what he thinks we'd call it over here I don't know - no river here gets anywhere near warm enough to attempt such a pastime!!
    Your help with the Skyline and BRP is great - I appreciate the speed limits having driven through Yosemite last summer.
    As for the Delmarva Peninsula, how long do you think to drive from Philly to the bridge/tunnel start? I was concerned that we wouldn't enjoy the crossing having driven all day so was considering a stop en route and driving across the following day like you say at midday so we can get to Williamsburg mid afternoon. Any thoughts on a nice spot to stay over?
    Thanks again.

  7. #7

    Default The Delmarva


    Mapquest shows 271 miles and 5.5 hrs from Philly to Va Beach via the Delmarva and US 13, which given the Urban Hades which represents I-95 through Baltimore and DC, I would rate as the only route from Philly to VB worthy of consideration. At 5.5 hrs, the 49 mph average speed strikes me as close to correct, with the caveat that I've never driven through Dover, DE and it's been many years since I've been through Salisbury, MD. I can from recent experience say US 13 is pretty much wide open from the MD-VA line on down to the CBBT, save for a few small towns with 1 to 3 or 4 stoplights each.

    Close to the MD-VA line, the towns of St Michaels and Crisfield, MD are but a few miles west of the US 13 corridor south of Salisbury, and each enjoys a reputation for good local seafood and are port towns on the Bay. My wife spent a weekend at St Michaels a couple of years ago and she very much enjoyed it. I imagine it gets crowded on the weekends during the summer.

    Just over the line into VA lies Chincoteague, just a few miles east of US 13. Chincoteague is the gateway to the Assateague National Seashore. Bicycles and pedal-powered "jitneys" rule Chincoteague and the oceanfront and National Seashore are but a short rental bike ride over a causeway from Chincoteague, with wide cycle lanes provided all the way. One can drive a car over to Assateague, too. Chincoteague is a small and fairly quaint village bustling with summer tourists. Whatever you do, make yourself aware of the dates for the annual Pony Roundup on Chincoteague (normally mid- to late July?) as the island will be mobbed by some 30,000 people, half of them screaming little girls, there to see the roundup, the drive across the sound (where the ponies are herded into the water to swim the hundred yards from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island), and the auction of the ponies rounded up.

    I would think most decent motels at St Michaels, Crisfield, and Chincoteague require 2 night stays on summer weekends, but perhaps not during the week. I'd want this segment to be midweek, regardless.

    You're about 90 minutes from the toll plaza at the north end of the CBBT at Chincoteague. With a stop on the South Island of the CBBT for a leg-stretch and some up-close viewing of commercial and military shipping passing right by, I'd reckon 90 minutes to 2.0 hours from the north toll plaza, across the CBBT (including maybe a 30 minute stop there), down the 4 miles of Northampton Blvd to I-64 West, through the HRBT, through Hampton and Newport News, to Williamsburg.

    Once again, welcome and enjoy your trip!


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default The Delmarva

    Philly to Kiptopeke is about 240 miles or maybe 4½ hours plus stops if you used the main highways, I-95/DE-1/US-13. So you can certainly make the drive in less than a day. If you want to take it a bit slower, then you can stop in Dover and take a walk around the State Capitol grounds and the downtown area that dates from Colonial times. If you are into wildlife refuges and especially migratory birds, there are innumerable sites on both the eastern (Atlantic) and western (Chesapeake) shores. You could (as I have) spend several days exploring this unique peninsula. If you'd like further info, just ask, but as noted, if you want to just drive through to the southern tip. that is easily accomplished in a day.


  9. Default

    FIRST OF ALL -- Welcome to the USA. I think you're planning one heck of a fun trip. A few tidbits: 1) Near to Gettysburg is York, Pa., where Harley Davidson builds it's line of touring bikes. For a few dollars you can tour the plant. It is fascinating no matter what kind of bike you ride. It might be worth checking it out; 2) In Front Royal, Va., there is good local pizza place called the Melting Pot. It's on the north side of town not far after you cross the bridge. Anyone can direct you to it; 3) the Skyline Drive costs $12 -$15 to enter. It is 105 miles long and the speed limit (as stated by others) is 35 mph (and they mean it). So plan about 4 hours. There are 3 places to stop on the Skyline. Gas up before going on it; 4) If time is of essence or you want a very nice alternative try taking Rt340 south out of Front Royal. This will take you thru the Shenandoah Valley (what you look out over on the Skyline Drive). This is a very, very nice ride thru old farms and historic areas. It will take you right past Luray all the way to Waynesboro where you can pick up the Blue Ridge; 5) if you plan on staying at Peaks of Otter make a reservation (no telephones or tv in rooms). I hope you have a wonderful trip and that this info helps. As for tubing you can go on the James around Buchanan, Va. There are outfitters in the area you can find on the internet. OR you can go on the New River in N.C. near Jefferson. Again, outfitters via the internet. Have a great trip!
    - Ironpig

  10. #10


    We did it!! Philly was OK - worth seeing as we flew in but a little to cramped for me. Drive down the Delaware was easy; we went over to Chincoteague and stayed the night. It was lovely and a great was to de-stress after a long flight and two nights in the city. Over the CBBT was great too - good advice meant we cruised along with no traffic at noon. Stopped for the afternoon in Yorktown and had a Ben & Jerrys then onto our vacation house in Williamsburg. Not what we expected and very hot but had a lovely day in Colonial WBurg. Spent the next day doing the outlets - great for us Brits as lots of savings even in the current financial cimate. Onto DC - FANTASTIC!!! Loved the Capital - lots of grass and trees, great museums and monuments. Then to Gettysburg - nice drive thru poaring rain but this added to the ambiance of the battlefields. Overnight with lots to see then off to Front Royal at the top of Skyline Drive. Easy drive down to Waynesboro for another overnight so we could enjoy the BRP next day. Leisurely drive down stopping at Natural Bridge (average) and Peaks of Otter then straight onto our final stop at Smith Mountian Lake - lovely - if you ever go takes extra strong repellent for the mossies!! Three days later and totally chilled we packed our bags and headed for the airport in Raleigh stopping off at NC uni campus on route. Great trip - very busy and lots of driving but worth every second. Looking forward to our next trip across the pond. ;@)

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