Thursday, May 01, 2008

Skyline Drive Virginia

Well, the Blue Ridge Mountains are most definitely blue! We learned that the blue haze occurs naturally, as the trees release tiny water droplets and other gaseous molecules into the air. Unfortunately though, 70 to 80 percent of the visibility degrading haze seen in Shenadoah is man made. Within the past 50 years, visibility has decreased by about 50 percent. The NPS staff are continually monitoring the air quality. Still, it is beautiful.

We entered the National Park in the historic town of Front Royal (there are four entry points) and drove 65 miles of the Skyline Drive - a 105 mile scenic road that winds it's way through the Shenandoah National Park.

The drive was truly spectacular and views from the many lookouts, amazing. The roads were built between 1933 and 1944 by the Civilian Conservation Corps - known as the CCC, and are in great condition.

Numerous animals live in the park from the rarely seen bobcat to the more common raccoon. There are about 200 species of birds and between 300 and 600 black bears, however the park's wildlife management policy works to keep them in the wild so they are rarely spotted. We did see some white tailed deer - there are over 6000 of them in Shenandoah and they prefer semi open spaces to deep woods. One of the most impressive sites was the turkey vulture which has a wing span of up to six feet. It's wings are a black or dark grey and the adults have a red head. Other animals include the beaver, grey fox, rabbit, owl and two poisonous snakes - the timber rattlesnake and copperhead.

At Swiftrun Gap just after mile 65 we left the park to drive to our cabin near Shenandoah town. read more ...

Bear facts

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