Located in Northwestern Virginia, Shenandoah National Park encompasses nearly 200,000 acres of protected lands, including 79,000 acres of wilderness, and a slice of the Appalachian Trail. Truly you don’t even have to get out of your car to enjoy Shenandoah’s majesty; as impressive windshield views can be had just about anywhere along the 105-mile length of Skyland Drive. Sadly way too many visitors just do a quick drive through the park; however if you’d like to buck the tide and linger on, there are three wheelchair-accessible properties in the park, including aptly named Skyland.
A Room With a View
Located near milepost 41, Skyland is the northernmost property in the park. Originally known as Stony Mountain Camp, Skyland dates back to 1888. And although there have been a few changes to the property since George Freeman Pollock originally broke ground, the natural beauty of the surrounding forest remains unchanged. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this mountain lodge has also added numerous access upgrades over the years.
Accessible parking is located near the lodge office, with an accessible cement pathway down to the front door. Accessible room 14 is located near the office, with accessible parking nearby. This large corner room not only offers excellent access, but also boasts a lovely valley view.
Access features include wide doorways, wood floors, lever handles, a lowered closet rod, and good pathway access. Furnishings include a 19-inch high open-frame king-sized bed with wheelchair access on both sides, two night tables, a chest of drawers and a table with two chairs. And if you want to catch up on the news, there’s also a television in the room.
The bathroom features a full five-foot turning radius, and is equipped with a roll-in shower with grab bars, a hand-held showerhead, and a fold-down padded shower bench. The toilet grab bars are located on the back and right walls (as seated), and the bathroom also has a roll-under sink and a lowered mirror. Add in shower controls located within easy reach of the shower seat, and a lowered towel hook near the sink, and you have a very accessible room.
And out on the semi-private front porch, there’s plenty of room to maneuver even the largest wheelchair or scooter. It’s the perfect place to sit back and enjoy the sunset, or to just relax after a busy travel day.
Take A Hike
Access to the public areas of Skyland — which are located next to the office — is equally impressive. There’s barrier-free access to the day lodge, with level access over to the Mountain Room taproom, gift shop and grab-and-go food kiosk. Accessible restrooms are located just off the lobby, and there’s ramp access down to the main dining room, which also offers a great view of the surrounding forest. Not only is Skyland a great place to spend the night, but it’s also a very accessible spot to grab a bite to eat during the day.
Additionally Skyland is located close to one of the most accessible trails in the park — the Limberlost Trail. There’s accessible parking near the trailhead with level access over to the hard packed dirt-trail covered with decomposed granite. The 1.3-mile trail begins with a walk through a wooded area filled with oaks, ferns and mountain laurels, before it transitions to a wetlands boardwalk, and finally crosses the river and loops back to the trailhead. It’s especially beautiful in June, when the mountain laurels are in bloom, but it also makes for a pleasant hike in the spring and fall.