Weekly Travel Q&A: U.S. Road Trips Worth It?
Me and my boyfriend are doing a big RTW trip later this year and we have a question about travel in the United States. What’s the best way to drive across and through various parts of America to get a real taste of the country? Further to that, is the iconic U.S. road trip really worth the time and effort, or is it just a Hollywood fantasy?
Fran G., Fremantle
Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas, off Route 66 – Photo credit
Fran, all I can say is get yourself a rusty old convertible and hit the open road. Yes, absolutely, unequivocably, “The Road Trip” is the way to see America. The national highway system is what made the U.S. what it is, good and bad, warts and all. Fast Food Nation, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone and Great Smoky Mountains on your doorstep, the migration west and south, Route 66 and all that. The trick, as always, is to source out the best itinerary. With that, check out a few quality bets for road trip bliss in the U.S.
U.S. Route 1
Length: 3,825 km
Tackle the entire Eastern Seaboard of the United States, from Fort Kent, Maine, on the border of New Brunswick, Canada, to Key West, Florida … on the border of Cuba. The list of superb stops on the way are too numerous to mention but if you take your time, you could feasibly take on the likes of New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Raleigh, Augusta, Jacksonville, Miami and Key West.
Great River Road
Length: 3,765 km
Trace the venerable line of the Mississippi, from the border of Ontario, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. The Great River Road is a joint network of federal, state and local roads that covers ten states.
Length: 3,945 km
The road trip of all road trips and a singular slice of Americana, Route 66 is a must. Start in the Windy City of Chicago and cruise, nice and slow, no need to rush now, to Santa Monica, where the Pacific Ocean awaits. Diners, dives and kitschy souvenir shops on the way make the drive that much more memorable.
Pacific Coast Highway
Length: 1,056 km
The epic way to get from one end of California to the other, State Route 1 a.k.a the Pacific Coast Highway snakes along the coast and offers all the requisite eye candy your digital camera can handle. From Big Sur to the San Francisco Bay Area, Route 1 is one sweet ride through the Golden State.
Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway
Length: 824 km
The under-the-radar Dinosaur Diamond Scenic Byway is a supremely picturesque circuit through parts of Utah and Colorado. Rugged, otherwordly terrain is on tap, from Dinosaur National Monument to Arches National Park, Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area to Canyonlands National Park.
Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway
Length: 800 km
The Pacific Northwest is a popular road trip draw for a reason. It rules. This route in particular covers the Cascade Range in Oregon and northern California. Significant points of interest include Crater Lake National Park, Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge and Lava Beds National Monument.