Winter in Arches
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If you’re searching for brilliant fall colors, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan won’t disappoint. This trip begins and ends in Milwaukee, but spends most of its time in the Upper Peninsula, with some great scenic drives along Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, and a few excellent hikes through the fall leaves.
Plunge into the Appalachian Mountains for some cool hikes through the woods and amazing views of the New River Gorge. This trip begins and ends in Pittsburgh, and after taking some time to explore the Steel City, heads south into the mountains of West Virginia. The main focus is on the New River Gorge National River, which offers some great hiking trails, as well as coal-mining and railroad ghost towns.
Make a big lasso around Montana on this trip, which visits Glacier National Park for several days of hiking. Then, you’ll travel east on the Hi-line to explore some rarely-visited towns, before cutting south across the empty middle of Big Sky Country. Wrap up the trip with a night in the middle of the Beartooth Highway, then spend a day driving through Yellowstone, before ending where you began, in Salt Lake City.
This trip focuses on exploring Zion National Park during the winter months when the park is frosted with snow, and winter storms provide a dramatic change in the canyon’s appearance. Many trails are still hikeable during the winter months, and the crowds are much smaller.
This trip takes you from Portland, Maine into the Canadian Maritime Provinces: New Brunswick and Nova Scotia (I didn’t have time to cross over onto Prince Edward Island). The drive hits the Fundy Coast, Halifax, scenic Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg, before heading north to the upper end of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island. I spent several days up there, hiking in Cape Breton National Park, before returning to the mainland and exploring more of New Brunswick before returning to the USA. I took this trip in early October, 2016 — perhaps one week too early for the best fall leaves. However, the foliage was looking pretty great by the final couple of days!
It was so good in 2015, I went back in 2016. There was plenty more to see in Alaska, so for the second trip to the land of the midnight sun, I reversed the loop, added a few destinations, and revisited a few of my favorites. The result is a 10 day, 10 night vacation, beginning and ending in Anchorage, with experiences on the Kenai Peninsula, Prince William Sound, Denali National Park, and an amazing drive on 100+ miles of dirt road, straight through the center of the state.
This 9-day trip focuses mostly on Death Valley National Park, during the best time of the year to visit: wildflower season, in late February and early March. Temperatures are cool and comfortable, and in 2016, the valley experienced a Superbloom of wildflowers, triggered by unusually wet weather. The trip also includes a visit to Joshua Tree National Park, the newly-formed Mojave Trails National Monument, and a hike up to the Hollywood sign!
This is a 9-day trip that focuses on Crater Lake National Park, and Yosemite National Park, with a couple of great bonuses: Bodie Ghost Town, and the Northern California/Southern Oregon coast. The trip begins and ends in Portland, Oregon.
This was my first trip to Alaska, and I was determined to use the opportunity to see as much as I could, and scout-out opportunities for future trips. I spent a couple of days in the Anchorage area, drove down the Kenai Peninsula to Homer, Soldotna, and Seward, visited Denali National Park, and then completed the loop up to Fairbanks, North Pole, Delta Junction, and Glennallen. It’s a good plan for serious road trippers, who don’t mind a lot of mind-blowingly-scenic driving.
This trip is a ten-night driving tour of Colorado and New Mexico, during the most colorful part of fall. The trip begins and ends in Denver, however Albuquerque could be used as an alternative start and end point.
The Big Sky trip is a 10-night driving trip to the northwestern United States. The trip begins and ends in Portland, Oregon, but spends much of the time in and around Glacier National Park in Montana.
This trip begins and ends in Albuquerque, but it could also easily originate out of Phoenix, Tucson, or even El Paso, if necessary. It’s 10 days, 9 nights, and spends most of the time in Arizona — which means your driving loop could be shorter if you start out there. However, there are some good reasons to include New Mexico in your loop.
This is a 10-day trip that focuses mostly on the interior of Oregon, but also includes some time in northern California, and a drive up the Oregon Pacific Coast on Highway US 101. It includes visits to beautiful Bend, Oregon as well as the Oregon Outback — the desert portion of the state in its southeast corner. I also spent a couple of days at Crater Lake National Park, before heading south into northern California for a visit to Lassen National Volcanic Park. The trip ends with two days of driving up the Pacific Coast on US 101.
This trip starts and ends in Salt Lake City. It includes stops in Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, and Kodachrome Basin State Park. The drives down Utah Highway 12 and Hole-in-the-Rock Road are extraordinary.
This was a road trip, beginning and ending at my home in Florida — but that part is pretty boring, so I won’t include the details of the long drive on Interstate 75. The rest of the trip is centered around Atlanta and the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
This was a three-night getaway from Albuquerque into the San Juan Mountains, just past the peak of fall color. The weekend includes a night in Durango and two nights in Telluride, plus some great hikes.
This is an 8-day trip that keeps driving to a minimum (it’s less than 1,000 miles) while providing access to some of the great hikes and scenic drives in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The trip begins and ends in Denver, and spends most of its time near the Interstate 70 corridor. Destinations visited include Boulder, Silverthorne, Loveland Pass, Independence Pass, Aspen, the Maroon Bells, and Glenwood Canyon.
This is not a trip for the casual traveler. You won’t enjoy warm, sunny days or sparkling water. But, for those willing to brave the cold weather, snow, icy roads, and potentially grey days, this forbidding place can be quite inviting.
Washington State’s centerpiece, Mount Rainier, deserves to be the sole destination of your northwest vacation. This guide is the result of a week spent in, and around, Mount Rainier National Park, during the beautiful, but brief, window of summertime weather — and shortly after the window has closed.
This 9-day trip circles around the Evergreen State, Washington, with visits to some of its most appealing natural areas. It spends two days at Mount Rainier, passes by Mount St. Helens, then dips into Oregon for a visit to the Columbia River Gorge, Portland, and the northwest Oregon Coast. Then, it heads up the Washington coast with visits to Ocean Shores, the Hoh Rain Forest, Ruby Beach, and Forks Vampire Town. The loop completes with a trip to Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge area, Port Townsend, and the North Cascades National Park, and then finally, Seattle.
This trip hits four U. S. states and one Canadian province in just four nights. Explore Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo, and Toronto, and spend some time admiring Niagara Falls and Cuyahoga Valley National Park, plus a remarkable museum in the Motor City.
This 9-day trip focuses on two Texas cities — Austin and San Antonio — as well as the scenic Texas Hill Country, and the mountainous and sparsely populated West Texas region. Along the way, it visits both of the National Parks in Texas, a hike to the Lone Star State’s highest point, and a canoe trip along the Rio Grande.
This 9-day trip took place during the first week of October, 2010 — perhaps the optimal time for viewing fall colors. It begins and ends in Manchester, New Hampshire, though Boston, Albany, or Portland could all be used as good start/end points. The trip makes a clockwise loop through Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, visiting the Green and White Mountains, and Acadia National Park.
This trip focuses exclusively on southern and central California, and includes a drive up the Pacific Coast Highway, and a couple of snowy days in Yosemite National Park. Then it’s back to southern California for a day in the desert, before visiting San Diego and driving up the coast to LA.
The Canadian Rockies trip spends 11 days amongst the mountain peaks of Alberta and British Columbia. The trip begins and ends in Calgary, but spends almost all of its time in one of Canada’s incredible National Parks: Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Revelstoke, and Glacier. The centerpiece of the trip is a drive up the Icefields Parkway, one of the most scenic roads in the world.
The Southeast Trip is an intense driving trip that touched the Gulf coast of Florida, the peanut fields of Georgia, the beaches of Alabama, antebellum Mississippi, the bayous of Louisiana, the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas, and the countryside of Tennessee.
I’m calling this one the “Loneliest” trip, because it sure felt like I spent a lot of time alone. Of course, Route 50 across Nevada is famous for its “Loneliest Road” status, but I found places even more remote, like the Waterpocket Fold and San Rafael Swell in Utah, and the road to the Racetrack in Death Valley. If solitude is what you’re looking for, this trip packs plenty of it into 12 days of driving, hiking, and thoughtful pondering on rocky ledges.
I was surprised to find out that I had a three-day weekend, so I decided to make the best of it. From my home in Tampa, I headed south, all the way to Key West, and then into the Everglades before returning home. You might want to add another day, and slow the pace a bit.
Here’s a 10-day trip that loops like a lasso around the least populous state, Wyoming. You’ll see the Snowy Range, Devils Tower, and parts of Yellowstone, plus make a significant detour into Nebraska and South Dakota, to see places like Carhenge and Badlands National Park.
You don’t have to drive far from Washington, D.C. to get away from it all. The mountains of Virginia and West Virginia offer some great byways and parkways, along with countless recreation opportunities. This trip travels south through West Virginia, then returns via the Blue Ridge Parkway and Shenandoah National Park. It took me 9 days, but you could easily chop out a section and do the rest in a long weekend.
On this trip, you can get your kicks on a major portion of old US Route 66 (that’s the “Route” part), and experience the landscape forged by pioneers along the Santa Fe Trail (the “Trail” part). The trip can take 7-10 days, depending on how fast or slow you want to travel. I did it in 8 days.
The Yellowstone & Tetons Trip begins and ends in Las Vegas, but it could also easily begin and end in Salt Lake City, Utah. The trip focuses on Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.
The Oregon and California Coast road trip begins and ends in Portland. The tour of the coast starts in beautiful Cannon Beach. From there, the incredible ocean scenery lines up in a row, with rocky and sandy beaches, dramatic capes, and picturesque coves. Once in California, there are redwood forests waiting to make you feel insignificant. After the remote Lost Coast and quaint Mendocino, the trip takes you into San Francisco. Once you leave the city, mountain lakes like Tahoe, Shasta, and Crater provide excitement, before the route returns you to the coast for one final day.
The 4 Corners trip is a short, extended weekend trip visiting the four corners area of the American Southwest. The trip begins and ends in Phoenix, and includes a stop at the Grand Canyon, a drive through the Navajo Nation, a visit to Canyon de Chelly, Mesa Verde National Park, and the mountain towns of Durango and Silverton. A visit to the Bisti Badlands, El Morro National Monument, and the Salt River Canyon are also included.
The Northern Rockies/Glacier trip is a 9 day road trip through Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana, that focuses on the Columbia River Gorge, Glacier National Park, the mountains of Idaho, and Hell’s Canyon, along the Idaho/Oregon Border.
Spend a couple of days exploring the city’s architectural, arts, and cultural riches, eat a deep-dish pizza, go shopping at world-famous stores — all without even renting a car! Here’s your guide to a weekend of fun in one of the country’s greatest cities.
This trip explores the Land of Enchantment (and chile peppers). The trip begins in El Paso but quickly heads into New Mexico for a week of exploring Native American ruins and communities, beautiful cities and towns, scenic drives, and the original “ground zero” – the Trinity nuclear blast site.
This week-long trip makes a loop around Colorado, with a short detour into Utah. The trip includes visits to Rocky Mountain National Park, Arches National Park, and the beautiful San Juan Mountains. It even explores some 4-wheel-drive roads that top out above 12,000 feet.
This trip makes an enjoyable loop around the desert landscapes of southern California and Arizona. It hits some great highlights, like Death Valley, Joshua Tree National Park, Saguaro National Park, and Sedona, and ends with an incredible drive to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
This trip takes you on a loop around Washington’s beautiful Olympic Peninsula, with visits to several attractions in Olympic National Park. It then continues down the Pacific coast into Oregon, briefly, with a visit to Cannon Beach and Mount Hood, before returning to Washington for an up-close look at Mount St. Helens. It ends at the Space Needle in Seattle!
This week-long trip focuses on the California Coast, from Los Angeles to San Francisco, then heads inland for some time in Yosemite and Bodie. It ends back at LA, with a drive on the old Ridge Route, long since replaced by Interstate 5.
The original trip, the one that started it all in 2004. This six-day trip hit many of the highlights of southern Utah and northern Arizona. Many future trips have retraced and improved upon this route, but for a short visit to a spectacular area of the country, this trip can’t be beat.