The Great American Road Trip Makes a Comeback

Suddenly, the great American road trip is making a comeback.

They have got their motors running and are once again heading out on the highway looking for adventure and whatever comes their way. Not every American is born to be wild but increasingly they are laying claim to a tradition that feels like a national birthright: the road trip.

And millennials are at the forefront of the trend.

Skyline Drive © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Skyline Drive © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

On Instagram, the hashtag “#roadtrip” shows up 37 million times.

Last year the share of all US holidays that were road trips spiked from 22 per cent to 39 per cent, and the figure has grown each year since 2013.

From California to Pennsylvania and South Carolina to Utah, they’re places to find natural beauty, roadside attractions, and stories of adventure.

Road Trip! Buckle up and cruise our scenic byways for exceptional beauty, wildlife, and history. Here are four road trips to consider:

Skyline Drive © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Skyline Drive © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Skyline Drive

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.

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.

Cascading waterfalls, spectacular vistas, quiet wooded hollows—take a hike, meander along Skyline Drive, or picnic with the family. 200,000 acres of protected lands are haven to deer, songbirds, the night sky…and you. Plan a Shenandoah escape today!

Valley of the Gods © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Valley of the Gods © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Valley of the Gods

This little valley near Bluff, Utah is filled with sandstone formations and starry night skies. Located in the southeastern corner of Utah it is out of the way of the main national park loop.

To drive through the Valley of the Gods you will take a 17-mile, unpaved loop. Similar to Monument Valley, but only a quarter of the size, it remains quiet and peaceful.

A pleasant surprise is the free BLM camping offered within the valley. There are dirt roads that veer off the main loop and lead to small individual campsites. Rolling out of bed and watching the sunrise behind the silhouettes of these monoliths and pinnacles with no one else in sight is a unique opportunity not to be missed. What are you waiting for?

Moke Hill on the Gold Rush Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Moke Hill on the Gold Rush Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Gold Rush Trail

Throughout its length, the Gold Rush Trail winds through many of the towns that sprung up during the California Gold Rush as it twists and climbs past panoramic vistas. Rocky meadows, oaks, and white pines accent the hills while tall firs, ponderosa pine, and sequoias stud higher slopes. Dozens of lakes, rivers, and streams compliment the stunning background of rolling hills.

The many old mining towns along the Trail retain their early architecture and charm—living reminders of the rich history of the Mother Lode. Placerville, Amador City, Sutter Creek, Jackson, Mokelumne Hill (Moke Hill), San Andreas, Angels Camp, and Murphys all retain their 1850’s flavor. There’s no end to the nuggets you’ll discover in California’s Mother Lode Country.

The granite needles on the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The granite needles on the Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway

The Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway includes picturesque lakes, towering granite formations, six picture-perfect tunnels, tight hairpin curves, spiral “pigtail” bridges, and the wildlife ranges of Norbeck Wildlife Preserve, Black Elk National Wilderness Area, and Custer State Park. There are many photo stops, picnic areas, campgrounds, climbing rocks, and alpine brooks that add to the fun.

Plan on spending half a day just to drive the route, but to truly enjoy the beauty and photo opportunities found along the way, make a day or more of it. The extra time will allow you to explore some of the highlights, including Mount Rushmore National Memorial, 7,242-foot Harney Peak, Sylvan Lake, and the Needle’s Eye and Cathedral Spires rock formations.

Owachomo Bridge at Natural Bridges National Monment along the Trail of the Ancients © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Owachomo Bridge at Natural Bridges National Monment along the Trail of the Ancients © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Trail of the Ancients

Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway circles through the ancient Puebloan (Anasazi) Country of southeastern Utah, providing opportunity to view scenic landscapes, archaeological, cultural, and historic sites, as well as Natural Bridges and Hovenweep national monuments, Monument Valley, Edge of the Cedars State Park, and continues into Colorado, to Mesa Verde National Park and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument.

Worth Pondering…

Road trips have beginnings and ends, but it’s what’s in between that counts.

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