Living in Skyline Lakes

Living in Skyline Lakes

Considerations Prior to Buying/Building in Skyline Lakes, Stanley, Virginia

Skyline Lakes is a remote, rugged cabin community located at between 2,600 and 3100 feet above sea level and thus often experiences severe weather in the winter months between November and April.  It is not a modern community with paved roads, shoulders, sidewalks, a clubhouse, etc.  None of these exists.  There is no community well or septic.  Each owner must establish their own well and septic. Those that live full time in Skyline Lakes prefer a quiet, remote style of living – and it’s not for everyone.

Weather in Skyline Lakes

At an average altitude of 3,000 feet, temperatures are ALWAYS 10 to 12 degrees colder in the area compared with valley temperatures.  Due to the high altitude, winds often reach 20-40 miles per hour sustained with gusts often in excess of 50+ miles per hour every month of the year.

With colder temperatures year round, it can snow in Skyline Lakes when its only raining in the valley.  For example, on March 21, 2019, the Shenandoah valley received a heavy rain shower and Skyline Lakes received 14 inches of snow, crippling the community for 3 days.

The SLPA has a policy to begin plowing snow when it reaches 3 inches.  We prioritize plowing to main roads and roads where cabins exist and residents or renters occupy.  But roads can be hazardous and impassable for days in ice and snow events.   We cannot apply salt to dirt roads, as it has a corrosive effect.  We can only apply gravel in icy conditions.  Renters and residents alike must plan for these emergency situations.

Driving in Skyline Lakes

The roads in Skyline Lakes are comprised of dirt and gravel, traversing 3 mountains, with very steep hills and switch backs.  Four-wheel drive vehicles and snow chains are always necessary in the winter months.  There are no shoulders and no guardrails, making it easy to slide off a hillside into a ravine.  There are no streetlights.  It is also highly recommended that residents and visitors carry extra cold weather and survival gear in their cars in the event that they do get stuck or slide off the road.

The roads in Skyline Lakes will never be paved – the cost is prohibitive given the low income generated from homeowner’s association dues. The community spends 75% or more of its annual budget on road maintenance and snow removal.

The road up to Skyline Lakes, Tanners Ridge Road, is very steep.  You must use low gears when descending, or you will burn up your breaks on the descent.    In 2018, a truck pulling an RV lost its breaks, crashing at the bottom of Tanner’s Ridge, totaling both the truck and RV.  In November of 2021, a large drilling truck lost its breaks driving down Tanner’s Ridge.  To avoid crashing into another car, the driver drove up an embankment, flipping the truck on its side.  All windows, including the windshield were blown out.  The driver was taken to the hospital, then released with minor injuries.

Commercial Rentals in Skyline Lakes

SLPA does allow for commercial rentals, but advises to avoid renting in winter months, due to the severe weather and treacherous road conditions.  If a renter gets stuck, it is NOT the responsibility of the SLPA to tow the renters out.  There are no towing services that enter Skyline Lakes.  The SLPA has no jurisdiction over renters – only owners.  Commercial rental owners must properly warn their renters of potential emergency situations and that they are responsible for their own decisions and carelessness if they choose to venture out in icy conditions.  SLPA is NOT responsible for renters who are careless or choose to venture out in icy conditions.  SLPA is NOT responsible for renters who get stranded, incurring additional rental fees, nor are they responsible for lost rental income due to cancellations or inability to rent during winter conditions.

Utilities in Skyline Lakes

Skyline Lakes has NO internet or TV access unless you have line of sight for a satellite dish.  There is no fiber optic service, like Verizon, nor will there ever be, due to the remoteness.  Ninety-five percent of Skyline Lakes has NO cellular service.   There is electricity and landline phone service available on main roads ONLY.  Most side roads have no power lines.  For more details on TV and internet, click HERE.

It is advisable that anyone living in Skyline Lakes have a generator for power outages, which happen frequently.

Building in Skyline Lakes

Of the 526 acres, there are only 15 full time residents due to the challenging terrain and weather conditions.  Ninety five percent of Skyline Lakes is wooded and undeveloped.

  • The terrain and roads are very mountainous and steep, preventing larger building and contracting trucks from traversing the roads.
  • With some exceptions, construction contractors are difficult to procure to do work high up on the mountain. Construction costs are much higher due the remote location, for those contractors who will do work.
  • Well drilling requires 400-800 vertical feet of drilling, making it expensive to place a new well, and this does not always guarantee adequate water volume. Drilling companies charge by the vertical foot to drill wells, so a well can cost $40,000 to dig.
  • Many lots have large boulders, steep inclines, springs and other obstacles that make it difficult, in advance, to determine the viability of successfully building a permanent structure. It is recommended that prospective buyers have the lot surveyed to determine if the lot will perk (will allow proper drainage). Many lots in Skyline Lakes do not perk, which is one reason building has been limited over the years.
  • None of the secondary or dead end roads have power lines. In order for the local power company to run power lines, the owner MUST be full time, or it will cost $8,000+ per telephone pole that must be installed.

This does not mean that you can’t build in Skyline Lakes.  If you are determined and have the time and plenty of money, you can build here.

Hunting and Target Practice in Skyline Lakes

Hunting is sanctioned by the Skyline Lakes bylaws and all permanent residents are armed. Skyline Lakes is a hunting community.  Firearm discharge for hunting and target practice is commonplace – and completely legal.  Hunting season begins in September with bow season and continues with various firearms through early January.  There are numerous deer stands that can be seen from the road all throughout Skyline Lakes.

Modern Conveniences in Skyline Lakes

There is NO trash service.  You must haul your trash to a landfill 30 miles away.

There is NO school transportation.  People with school-age children should not consider Skyline Lakes for full time residency.

All mailboxes reside at the entrance to Skyline Lakes, so you MUST drive out to your mailbox to retrieve your mail.

Delivery services (UPS, USPS, Fed-Ex) rarely enter Skyline Lakes – and its not weather-related.   They just won’t venture in.  If you receive a package that cannot fit in your mailbox, it is taken back to the Stanley post office or distribution center where you will have to drive down and retrieve it yourself.

There are NO delivery services for food, for example.  You cannot order a pizza for delivery.

Police Support

The local police patrol Skyline Lakes a few times a year (between once a month to once every 6 months.)  Residents receive postcards in our mailboxes that a police officer patrolled, with the date, time and name.  Residents and visitors are encouraged to be self-sufficient.  Personal security systems with cameras are necessary.

Wild Animals

Due to the proximity of Shenandoah National Park and the remoteness of Skyline Lakes, there are many wild animals that share the area with residents and visitors.  Black bear, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, skunk, opossums, are common and seen frequently.  Bobcats are also seen on occasion.  Some residents have large, outdoor dogs that run free, creating an additional hazard.

Property Owners Association

The annual fees are only $98 per lot, per year, giving the SLPA only about a $45k a year budget.  That only allows them to try to keep the roads cleared, graded and graveled, and to pay for accounting and legal services.  There have never been sufficient funds available for any significant improvements to the community, beyond basic and essential services.