Skyline Drive closing at night during hunting season

Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park will be closing nightly this month to coincide with hunting season.

The national park’s historic road between Front Royal and Thornton Gap and from Swift Gap Run to Rockfish Gap in the southern portion of the park will be closed from 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. beginning Nov. 14, with the central portion of road remaining open until Nov. 28 to allow access to Big Meadows Campground. After Nov. 28, the road will be closed. It will reopen Jan. 8.

Byrd Visitor Center will remain open on the weekends during Skyline Drive’s operating hours.

Claire Comer, interpretive specialist at Shenandoah National Park, said the closures are an effort to minimize poaching.

“Poaching increases during hunting season because hunters are out and will sometimes spill over into the park because it’s legal to have a dead deer during that time,” she said. “This is to give us an opportunity to concentrate our patrols along the boundary where the most likely area for poaching is and to prevent people from coming in at night and spotlighting.”

The law enforcement division of national park staff will be tasked with those patrols, something Shenandoah has done for the past 35 years. Comer said they believe these closures do make a difference.

“In speaking with our law enforcement ranger, they definitely feel like this is advantageous in reducing illegal hunting activity,” she said. “It also allows them to make contact with our neighbors along the border, which we’re not necessarily able to do during the busier times.”

Contact staff writer Nathan Budryk at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or nbudryk@nvdaily.com