Perfect Destinations for a Late Summer Road Trip
As cool nights begin to steal away the summer heat, we’re reminded that the summer season is coming to an end. But that doesn’t mean your window for one last pre-winter trip is closed. There are over 4 million miles of roadways that enable us to traverse the many landscapes of our country. Some of these roads are just on another level, both literally and figuratively. We took a look at some of the best roadways to drive throughout the country, many of which are best explored in late-summer to early fall.
This one is not for the faint of heart. Pikes Peak highway’s entrance sits at 7,400 ft. with the summit being 14,115 feet. Throughout this climb you travel through 4 of Colorado’s 6 life zones, meaning you’ll see some diverse landscapes. The extremity of this road makes it a hotspot for the adventure-seeking-driver. There’s even a Pikes Peak International Hill Climb where drivers races to the top (one at a time of course) that has been taking place since 1916.
And if the beautiful scenery isn’t enough to entice you, there are also hot donuts at the top, which have to be made with special ingredients due to the fact that they’re being made at over 14,000 ft. The highway is also a hotspot for supposed Bigfoot sightings, so be sure to have those cameras ready!
Pacific Coast Highway
The prospect of driving in California may not sound too appealing. We’ve all seen photos of the 8 lane highways bumper-to-bumper. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some good aspects. The Pacific Coast Highway travels along the coastline from San Diego all the way up to Northern CA., offering incredible views of the ocean and the cliffs that border it. The trip offers more than nature scenery though. You’ll have the opportunity to check out the Golden Gate Bridge and will pass through Malibu and Monterey, among many other essential California towns. With 653 miles to cover, there’s plenty to see on this West Coast highway.
Looking for a cross-country road trip? This is the one for you. Stretching over 2,000 miles, historic Route 66 starts in Illinois and cuts all the way across the county to California. Along the way you’ll be treated with amazing views of the Grand Canyon, stops in ghost towns along the Colorado River, and incredible views of our country’s diverse landscape.
Constructed in 1926, this was dubbed the Mother Road of America and connected the middle of the country to the West Coast. Although the highway was decommissioned in 1985 and is no longer recognized on standard maps, you can still find specialty maps that will help guide you across this historic roadway.
We go back to the Rockies for this one, where the Going to the Sun Road breeches the continental divide and offers stunning views of the Northern Rockies. This road provides the only highway access to Glacier National Park. Construction began in 1921 and the road was designed to have as little visual impact on the park as possible. You’ll pass through tunnels and will take in views of the alpine forest, beautiful lakes, and incredible valley-overlooks throughout this 50+ mile roadway.
Up to 80 feet of snow can accumulate at portions of this highway; so needless to say, it’s closed in the winter. Once spring hits snowplowing takes around 10 weeks to complete, with the road sometimes not opening until July.
Crazy things and Florida tend to go hand-in-hand. A crazy good thing about this state is the Overseas Highway that stretches from the mainland all the way to Key West. This 113 mile highway was built on the infrastructure of the old Florida East Coast Railway. This now offers a scenic way to get from Florida to Key West, with the highway connecting hundreds of small islands via its 42 bridges, the longest of which is 7 miles long.
With views of coral reefs, palm trees, and glistening blue waters surrounding you along the way, this sounds like a nice way to spend an afternoon to us!
Blue Ridge Parkway
Continuing with roadways that offer views of National Parks, a highway that connects two National Parks offers twice the fun. This 469-mile road links the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky National Park in North Carolina. Dubbed as America’s Favorite Drive, the scenic beauty cannot be given justice from a description; it’s something you must experience.
The fall makes for an especially beautiful drive as the full palate of fall colors extends as far as the eye can see. There are also many historic sites along the way with the parkway stretching through many of the oldest sites of both pre-historic and early European settlements.
Tail of the Dragon
Staying in the Appalachians, this mountain pass is the destination of car and motorcycle enthusiasts alike. With 318 curves in just 11 miles, your suspension will get quite the workout. This road borders the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National forest and there are no intersecting roads or driveways to impede your travel. However, this road can be dangerous if the proper care is not taken. Cornering too quickly or veering from your lane can result in disaster, as there have been 14 motorcycle fatalities on this short stretch of road in the last 5 years.
Olympic Peninsula Loop
Located within Olympic National Park, this roadway passes through the Hoh Rainforest, one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. This is the perfect road trip to give you a sense of what the Pacific Northwest is all about. Take in views of sparkling lakes, see some amazing moss formations in the Hall of Mosses, and watch the extreme tidal shifts from Ruby beach. This 329 mile loop takes you completely around Olympic National Park and goes through some cities such as Port Townsend, which is ranked as one of the top cities in the US by MSN City Guides.