This is one of several wrap up posts where I talk about highlights from our trip.
As this was a road trip, we did a fair amount of driving. This wonderful country of ours is quite large and quite diverse, with large mountains, beautiful coastline, rolling hills, and plains that stretch as far as one can see. That old cliché about ‘It’s not the destination but the journey…’ is very apropos here. Driving more than 15,000 miles allowed us to see a good number of roads and breath-taking scenic vistas along the way. Below is a list of my favorite stretches of road with a brief explanation of why and a link to a more in-depth post about the drive.
Southern Missouri in the Mark Twain National Forest. We left the heart of Missouri behind and headed south toward Arkansas. We drove on a very hilly dirt road that was pretty close to a roller coaster. Kate captured some great video of that particular stretch of road.
Route 66 in Illinois was quite memorable, if only for the filling stations, old Route 66 signage and of course, the world’s largest ketchup bottle. The stretch of road from Litchfield to Mount Olive, Illinois was the most fun to drive.
Las Vegas, New Mexico to Taos, New Mexico. The drive through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains was phenomenal. Steep and twisty, tight and narrow in spots, it was a true delight to drive. Signs warning to look out for snow (we didn’t see any).
Seligman to Toprock, Arizona along Route 66 is a fabulous drive. The Mother Road winds through the hills and mountains of western Arizona, taking you up and over the famous Sitgreaves Pass. It’s very tight and windy, I can’t imagine attempting to get over that pass with dirt roads and and old car.
The road that winds through Zion National Park in southern Utah. We especially enjoyed the 1.1 mile long tunnel that was carved out of the sandstone cliffs. A great drive through the heart of the park and essential when traveling east to west through the park.
Route 101 from Cardiff-by-the-Sea to Oceanside, California. This stretch of road is pretty remarkable, and hugs the Pacific Ocean very closely. There are countless beaches along this stretch of road and loads and loads of surfers waiting for the perfect swell.
California Route 1 from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay, California. Another great stretch of windy road that hugs the wonderful California coastline. The boardwalk and lighthouse in Santa Cruz are worth checking out as well.
Avenue of the Giants in the Redwood State and National Parks of northern California. The drive on this road is incredible. Humbling. The giant redwood trees tower over you and you’ll find yourself pulling over often to marvel at their beauty.
Route 101 from Florence to Newport, Oregon. A great stretch of road in Oregon that hugs the coast and has a few lighthouses to stop at. Newport has a great aquarium and two lighthouses along with some great clam chowder.
Route 101 around Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park, Washington. Lake Crescent is in itself a beautiful attraction with its cold glacial water and rocky shores. But the drive through this part of Olympic National Park is very scenic and has several great places to stop and soak in the scenery.
Route 3 from Hope, British Columbia to Princeton, British Columbia. The Canadian Rockies are massive, beautiful and intimidating all at the same time. This stretch of road cuts through a few small towns and vineyards, but mostly it just winds up and down the Rocky Mountains.
Route 287 from Ennis to West Yellowstone, Montana. Big Sky Country is not just something you see on Montana license plates. If you drive this road in Montana you will know what Big Sky Country is all about. Not to be missed.
Route 16A from Custer State Park to Keystone, South Dakota. The wildlife in Custer State Park is first class, but the drive along Route 16A out of the park and into Keystone, South Dakota is a tight and windy road with one lane tunnels, narrow bridges and a great scenic view of Mount Rushmore.
Route 302 from Bridgton, Maine to Conway, New Hampshire. This part of New England is a real treat, especially for a native New Englander. A small windy road that travels through small towns and passes around lakes and ends in the great Conway, New Hampshire in the foothills of the White Mountains.
Kancamagus Highway from Conway to Lincoln, New Hampshire. This is a popular drive, and with very good reason. The Swift River, covered bridges, great scenic views, the thick White Mountain National Forest and the chance of seeing a moose up close and personal are all great reasons to complete this great drive.