Rising gas prices may discourage some travelers from packing up the car in the weeks and months ahead. Yet, the American road trip remains an enduring tradition and in the end can provide an affordable vacation option. Here are five ways to hit the open road.
1. Colo-road trips
The Colorado Tourism Office has made it easy for road-trippers to explore the state’s 24 Scenic & Historic Byways. The tourism office’s microsite includes an interactive map that enables travelers to explore options by region, interest or season. Travelers seeking inspiration can also access insider tips and side-trip suggestions within more than 150 Colo-road trip itineraries, making multi-day adventures easy to plan. The flexible itineraries offer suggestions for historic attractions and active adventures, and highlight cultural opportunities. Visitors to the site can also peruse for picnic, dining, hiking and lodging suggestions.
2. Skyline Drive, Virginia
Meandering along the crest of the mountains through the woods and past spectacular vistas, Virginia’s Skyline Drive begins in Front Royal and twists and turns southwest through Shenandoah National Park. You’ll roll along, passing through more than 200,000 acres of protected land that’s home to deer, song birds, black bears, cascading waterfalls and fields of wildflowers. Hike in the shade of oak trees along the Appalachian Trail, discover the stories from Shenandoah’s past or explore the wilderness at your leisure.
3. The Beartooth Highway
Visitors who travel this extraordinary byway experience the visual trifecta of Montana, Wyoming and Yellowstone Park, taking in both the Absaroka and Beartooth mountains. The windy, cliff-hugging 68-mile stretch introduces road explorers to one of the most diverse ecosystems accessible by auto. Rising to 10,947 feet above sea level, it’s also the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies. Stunningly beautiful, the all-American road showcases wide, high alpine plateaus, painted with patches of ice blue glacial lakes, forested valleys, waterfalls and wildlife. Plan for many stops so the driver can take in the long views or the whole crew can hike to a nearby alpine lake.
4. California dreaming
For majestic coastal scenery and seaside breezes, pile in the car for a trip up (or down) our country’s western shore. Begin in ultra-hip Santa Monica, California, and wind your way past the Hearst Castle. Push north to Carmel and then on to the storied city by the bay, San Francisco. Other road trip options in this sun-drenched state include a taco tour or an itinerary that features the best surf spots. Travelers can also uncover the bizarre attractions found in the California desert by following the state’s Amazing Desert Oddities itinerary.
5. The Lighthouse Trail in Maine
Travel the 375 miles between Kittery and Calais, Maine, visiting lighthouses along the way, and learn about the dangers that seafaring vessels and their crew endured along the craggy Northeastern coast. Hear tales of shipwrecks and ghosts, and of the difficult and lonely life led by those who kept the lights burning brightly. If possible, visit the Maine Lighthouse Museum, where artifacts and hands-on exhibits for children provide an enticing break.