Skyline Drive reopens in time for peak fall foliage

A view of the Shenandoah Valley from Skyline Drive in the summer of 2012. Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive have reopened to visitors as the fall foliage hits its peak color. (WTOP/Hank Silverberg)

WASHINGTON – The end of the government shutdown couldn’t come soon enough for the communities along the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah National Park, which took a big economic hit during the height of the fall tourist season.

“It looks like we lost approximately half a million dollars in revenue,” says park spokeswoman Karen Beck-Herzog.

That loss was just from admission fees and does not include millions more that may have been lost by local businesses like restaurants, lodges and orchards.

But Beck-Herzog says the next couple of weekends will be the peak for fall foliage along the 105 miles of Skyline Drive. And tourists are welcome back now that the park has reopened.

“Every overlook will give you a different picture that’s painted with the colors,” she says.

Trees in the higher elevations along the Blue Ridge Mountains are already hitting their peak color, she adds.

A seven-day pass to enter Shenandoah National Park is $15 per car.

The best entrances to the park from the Washington area are in Front Royal or the Thornton Gap entrance near Warrenton, Va.

Skyline Drive, which runs from Front Royal in Warren County to Waynesboro near Staunton in Augusta County, is just one of the park’s features. Also, the park includes seasonal camping and hiking.

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