Road trippin’ travels
By Carrie Dunlea
North America is an ideal place to take to the open road for a scenic drive or trip, especially in the fall. With so much land and a wide variety of terrain, explorers can choose to travel back country roads, ocean drives, national parks and much more from behind the wheel.
Highway 12 (Utah): The unique landscapes of the American southwest are on display along Highway 12 in southern Utah, also known as “A journey through time scenic byway.” Along this 123-mile highway, also designated as an “All-American Road” that begins in Panguitch and ends in Torrey, road trippers can motor their way through national parks while taking in breathtaking natural views and the region’s distinct slickrock. The entire trip, without stops, takes three hours; however, you’ll want to build in time — days, not hours— to view Kodachrome Basin, Dixie National Forest, Escalante Petrified Forest, Anasazi State Park Museum, Bryce Canyon, The Tropic Shales and much more. Visitutah.com.
Lake Shore Drive (Chicago): This 15-mile stretch of road won’t make for a long journey, but it’s definitely one to take when visiting the Windy City. It is advised to make the drive from south to north along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, looking out one side of the vehicle to take in its sandy shores and the other to see the stunning Chicago skyline. On foot, check out the Lakefront Trail, Millennium Park, Soldier Field, Lincoln Park and Navy Pier, a 50-acre waterfront destination with a plethora of activities to see and do.
Route 66: Begin your trip on Route 66 in downtown Chicago and travel 2,448 miles through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to the Santa Monica Pier in California. The route, coined “The Mother Road” by author John Steinbeck, can take road trippers anywhere from 14-21 days to cover the distance and truly experience the culture. According to nps.gov, there are more 250 buildings, bridges, road alignments, and other sites along Route 66 that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.nps.gov/travelroute66
8 Pacific Rim Highway (Vancouver): A truly engaging experience awaits visitors to Vancouver’s Pacific Rim Highway, located on Vancouver Island, which features the stunning natural beauty Canada is known for. Ancient rainforests, awe-inspiring mountain ranges and sandy, secluded beaches are just a handful of the sights to see along this breathtaking 78-mile stretch of road. If you don’t plan on stopping, it takes 2-3 hours to traverse this steep, twisting mountain highway that takes drivers through a forest, mountain range and across lakes.
And while it is not advisable to travel this road in the winter, if you plan a trip during the spring, summer or fall, there’s so much to do and see. vancouverisland.com
Highway 60 Corridor (Ontario): Kings Highway 60, also known as the Highway 60 Corridor, is a 159-mile highway that passes through the southern portion of Algonquin Park. Geological formations, pristine rivers and expansive forests are just some of the stunning natural features and idyllic settings that await drivers who take to the corridor. If you plan to stay for a day or more, the park corridor along Highway 60 has restaurants and lodges, nine campgrounds, two museums, 15 walking trails, three cross-country ski trails, two bicycle trails, a dog sledding trail and more. Algonquinpark.on.ca
Highway 50 (Nevada): Though it might seem impossible in a nation with more than 330 million residents, there are still places in the United States where drivers can feel alone and isolated. Perhaps nowhere provides that feeling of solitude better than the stretch of Highway 50 that starts in Reno, Nevada. Pony Express stations and other abandoned relics of a bygone era are just a few of the sights to see on this lonely stretch of highway that provides stunning views of the southwest’s signature expansive skies. travelnevada.com
Pacific Coast Highway: This highway can be explored at any point but why not start in San Francisco and wind your way down the coastline? First, visit the Golden Gate Park, North Beach and Chinatown before starting your 600-mile journey down the coast. For a unique experience, take a few days to savor the views and attractions stopping along the way at Big Sur, Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, Solvang, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles before arriving in San Diego, a city with unlimited attractions. Visitheusa.com
Highland Scenic Highway (West Virginia): Drivers who take to the Western Scenic Highway in West Virginia will gain a greater appreciation for the late John Denver’s hit song, “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” The 43-mile-long Highland Scenic Highway snakes through the Monongahela National Forest, which boasts more than its share of breathtaking views of the Allegheny Mountains. There are three campgrounds, cabins and four scenic overlooks with trailheads on the highway for visitors who plan to explore on foot.
Road trippers should know that traveling the Route 150 portion of the road — 23 miles —between November and April, is strongly discouraged as conditions can be especially treacherous in winter. wvirginatourism.com
Great River Road (U.S.): Drivers with plenty of time on their hands can traverse the Great River Road, which is a collection of state and local roads that follow the course of the Mississippi River for 3,000 miles from northern Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. There’s plenty to take in on this stretch of roadway known as the “longest and most important” scenic byway in American which snakes its way through 10 states and hundreds of river towns. Experiencemississippiriver.com
Alabama’s Coastal Connection Scenic Byway: Explore 130 miles of coastline as you travel through the coastal towns of Bayou La Batre, Dauphine Island, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Elberta, Magnolia Springs, Fairhope, and Daphne. One must-see stop is Gulf State Park which has 6,000 acres of coastline and a wildlife refuge in addition to freshwater lakes, hiking trails, fishing, boating, birding and biking opportunities. While you’re visiting, don’t forget to stop at Fort Morgan and the Indian & Sea Museum and learn some local history. gulfshores.com
Millions of miles of highways with breathtaking views await road trippers throughout North America. Plan a car, motorcycle or RV trip today along scenic highways and byways and log some miles, make memories and enjoy breathtaking scenery.