3 best road trips in the USA
By Aimee Markwardt
If wide open spaces, a personalized adventure and exploring all on your own timeline are what you crave, consider planning a road trip instead of cloud-hopping in the skies.
Here are our three favorite road trips throughout the United States — and tips for how to make the most of them:
1. The California coast: Highway 1 stretches down the coastal border of California, and various stretches contain their own unique charms — from the towering redwoods just outside of San Francisco to mysterious foggy ports or romantic hillside getaways. The Huffington Post lauds the Big Sur stretch as the best piece of the highway. With sea lions, rocky beaches, the San Lucia Mountains and, of course, the rolling Pacific, these twisty roads are not short on scenery or beauty.
Tips: When traveling Highway 1, always fill up and keep on top of your gas tank. There are some lengthy expanses of road with no gas station anywhere in sight. Also, remember that the windy and hilly roads mean you will be driving slower, so plan more time per mile than you would on a flat interstate.
2. The Wild West in northeastern New Mexico: The 400-mile Santa Fe Trail is a classic American road trip, spotted with ghost towns, rich history and awe-inspiring desert landscapes as far as your eyes can see.
Tip: Make sure you visit the once-bustling village of Cimarron, named for the Spanish word “wild and unruly.” Cimarron was once the home to colorful characters. Jesse James and Wyatt Earp are said to have slept in the St. James Hotel. Some people believe the hotel is haunted today.
3. The Million Dollar Highway, Colorado: This 24-mile chunk of Highway 550 is another way to travel back in time, but instead of through the dusty desert, it snakes (sometimes in heart-stopping hairpin curves) through the Colorado mountains. This famous highway touches through many mining towns, a gorge and the Red Mountain Pass. Although the driving conditions may leave your stomach in your throat and your palms sweating, the views will take your breath away.
Tip: Instead of taking your personal car up these roads, consider renting a mountain-friendly car or signing up for Jeep tours. San Juan Scenic Jeep Tours runs trips through the Million Dollar Highway. Ask them about customized ghost town tours, photo tours, wildflower tours or special drop-offs to go hiking, hunting or fishing.
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