Oh, the difference a month makes. Even at the tail-end of March, most of the contiguous United States were still far too frosty for anyone to utter “spring” without sarcasm in their voice. But now, temperatures are rapidly rising, mountainous towns are finally thawing out, and roadways that have been closed for the winter are opening back up. Here are three of my favorite springtime road trips – they’re certainly worth a spin before summer swoops in, and if you’re looking to avoid the crowds.
Blue Ridge Parkway: Regardless of whether you hop on after a stroll through Shenandoah National Park, or if you fly into Asheville and grab a rental, this 469 mile motorway is not to be missed. Various sections of it are blocked off during the winter due to intense snowfall, but as of now, the full stretch is open for visitors. There’s really no bad spot here; vistas are around nearly every turn, and the quaint towns that line the road are chock full of friendly people, delicious home cooking, and unique stores. If you’re blessed enough with a few days on this route, driving the entire stretch is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Going-to-the-Sun Road: Glacier National Park is one of America’s finest gems, and this particular road is one that provides views for days. As of now, a total of 17 miles are open for travel, but the park service expects the full stretch to be accessible by late June. If you’re driving it, make sure you take a small, nimble vehicle; most of the roadways are scarily narrow with few guardrails. Harrowing though it may be, crisscrossing the vast mountains in the park provides for outstanding photographs, wildlife spottings, and incredible hiking.
Circumnavigating Lake Tahoe: Unlike the first two options, there’s no hard-and-fast rules surrounding this route. My preferred method for those visitor via air is to fly into Reno and rent a car. If you’re already in the Bay Area, driving over through South Lake Tahoe is a fine alternative. Highways 28, 50, and 89 run together in a loop around one of the most sterling lakes this country has to offer, and while speedsters can complete the journey in around four hours, you’ll want to budget for more. There are countless opportunities to grab photos across the lake, hike in the surrounding forests, and toss a fishing line in with local anglers. As a bonus, you can stand in two states at one time twice while making your way around.
Have any favorite road trips that aren’t listed here? Be sure to share in the comments section below!