An estimated 34.8 million Americans will take a trip of 50 miles or more this weekend, according to AAA’s annual Memorial Day travel forecast.
AAA projects an increase of 1.2 percent over last year’s 34.3 million travelers over the holiday weekend that runs today through Monday.
Indulge your wanderlust on wheels while exploring the following National Scenic Byways.
Scenic Byway 12 (Utah)
Scenic Byway 12 takes you to the heart of the American West.
This exceptional 124 mile route negotiates an isolated landscape of canyons, plateaus, and valleys ranging from 4,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level. You’ll encounter archaeological, cultural, historical, natural, recreational, and scenic qualities while driving this exhilarating byway.
Scenic Byway 12 travels through some of the most diverse, remote and ruggedly beautiful landscapes in the country. It runs through Utah’s Garfield and Wayne Counties and is home to Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks; Kodachrome Basin, Escalante Petrified Forest, and Anasazi Museum State Parks; Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and the 1.8-million-acre Dixie National Forest.
Scenic Byway 12 has two entry points. The southwestern gateway is from U.S. Highway 89, seven miles south of the city of Panguitch. The northeastern gateway is from Highway 24 in the town of Torrey near Capitol Reef National Park.
Scenic Byway 12 takes visitors through memorable landscapes, ranging from the remains of ancient sea beds to one of the world’s highest alpine forests, and from astonishing pink and russet stone turrets to open sagebrush flats. The history and culture of the area blend together, making Scenic Byway 12 a journey like no other.
Red Rock Scenic Byway (Arizona)
Travelers are amazed by the high desert’s power, diversity, and sense of intimacy with nature. Inhabited for thousands of years, the stunning red rocks are alive with a timeless spirit that captivates and inspires.
This highly acclaimed National Scenic Byway, begins shortly after you exit #298 off I-17 and has earned the distinction of being Arizona’s First All-American Road! It winds through the evergreen pinion-covered Coconino National Forest, with several scenic pullouts, as well as through the extraordinary, prehistoric Red Rocks with nearby parking (RV friendly) and all levels of hiking and biking trails.
Although the Scenic Byway is only 7.5 miles, it is long on spectacular sights.
Sedona’s Red Rocks are comprised of sediment layers deposited over many millions of years. The shale foundation is the remainder of ancient swamp lands. Other layers are the remainder of an ancient beachfront that deposited iron about 275 million years ago. This iron is what gives Sedona’s rocks their rich red color.
The Coconino sandstone layer was formed at a time when Sahara-like dunes covered the majority of the Western U.S. The Red Rocks we see today were formed several million years ago when the uplifting of the Colorado Plateau that created the Grand Canyon also caused water to carve out Sedona’s red rock, cake-like layers.
El Camino Real (New Mexico)
New Mexico’s El Camino Real passes by missions, historic sites, and a national wildlife refuge.
Cultures along El Camino Real De Tierra Adentro (The Royal Road of the Interior Land), are as diverse as its history and scenery. Pueblos reveal artisans crafting wares using centuries-old methods. First traveled by Don Juan de Onate in 1598, the route provided news, supplies, and travel to the first capital of the New World.
El Camino Real crosses central New Mexico from Santa Fe to the Texas state line near El Paso. The 276-miles long byway follows a series of U.S. Highways and State Highways closely paralleling I-25. All the roads are two-lane paved roads suitable for all types of vehicles.
The scenic beauty of the byway is as diverse and colorful as its culture, history, and people.
From the low-lying flatlands of the south to the soaring peaks of the northern mountains, the terrain climbs 10,000 feet in elevation, creating a landscape of dramatic contrasts.
The El Camino Real and surrounding area is the postcard picture of desert beauty. Majestic mountain ranges with treacherous peaks wind through the desert, and low shrubs and cacti dot the earth.
The El Camino Real is an experience sure to leave an impression of the Southwest with you forever.
Please Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part series on 5 Great All-American Road Trips
Part 1: Road Trips!
People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering.