An American road trip is a rite of passage that allows you to change gear, relax and unwind in places and towns that you ordinarily would never have visited. The temptation is always there to get on a plane and vacation abroad, but what we have in this country is the ideal terrain to satisfy every curiosity that you have.
There is no need to head to the flashing lights of the big cities (although admittedly a stop off in one is always good), to get the most benefit of your road trip you need to head to the natural landscapes that have stood the test of time. All you need is to crank up your tunes, fill the tank, collect your travel companions and you are all set. Here are 4 road trip destinations that will have you in awe at the natural beauty that is available to us.
Death Valley, California
Death Valley is a section of the Mojave Desert that is officially the driest, lowest and hottest place in the USA. It was declared a national park in 1994, and is recognized as the largest International Dark Sky Park in the U.S – there is no light pollution from nearby settlements, so the skies are pristine. Devils’ Golf Course is a must see, which is a rock salt landscape that has been eroded by the wind and rain; you can hear the salt crystals popping as they expand and contract in the heat.
Image by Mobilus In Mobili via Flickr
Monument Valley is on the Arizona and Utah border, and is perhaps the most recognizable area of red-sand desert in the world. The towering sandstone buttes of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park are the cornerstone of numerous Westerns and other movies including Forrest Gump, Easy Rider and National Lampoons. At some point in your life, you are going to have to do the looping 17-mile Valley Drive that takes you through Monument Valley.
Image by Pedro Szekely via Flickr
Almost two-thirds of national parkland in the United States (41 million acres no less) is found in Alaska, which is why the whole state has been suggested as a destination. No matter where you travel, you’ll be met with breathtaking scenery, wild animals and dramatic landscapes. Anchorage is ideal to start your tour, be sure to go to the Kenai Fjords for coastal roads, and Denali for glaciers. Exhausted by all the driving? Fly to Ketchikan from Anchorage, and take advantage of an Alaska Fishing Lodge and experience world class fishing. The Cedars Lodge will even arrange for you to go fishing on a float plane, if you are going to do something, you may as well do it in style. Ketchikan is only 90 minutes flight from Seattle, so it provides a great stopping point for your return home.
Image by Teddy Llovet via Flickr
Niagara Falls, the home of three waterfalls that straddles the Canadian and US borders. Famed for its beauty and great scale, the Niagara Falls is a great road trip destination, and you have the possibility to either continue into Canada or head to New York City. The beautiful and historic Hudson River Valley provides a ride through New York’s wine producing region. Be sure to stop off at Finger Lakes, and visit the waterfalls there.
Image by matt northam via Flickr