Whenever the weather gets warm, millions of Americans take to the nation’s highways in search of beauty, adventure and unforgettable memories. Mountains, desert, prairie, forests… there are many amazing destinations to choose from.
But before you hit the open road this year, it’s always a good idea to first prepare your vehicle by checking the tire treads, changing your oil, and making sure the car’s other fluids are in good shape. Also make sure that you have an emergency kit on board that includes flares, a lantern or high-powered flashlight, tire sealant for small punctures, jumper cables and bottled water.
Once that’s done, here are three of the most rewarding road trip destinations for you to consider.
Photo credit: Christopher Chan
White Mountain Highway in New Hampshire
The White Mountains of New Hampshire are unique in the Appalachian Chain because of their rugged, rocky peaks that are almost impenetrable by roadways. Thankfully, though, New Hampshire State Highway 16 trespasses these majestic mountains, passing through lush forests, by rushing mountain streams with waterfalls, and past images of covered bridges that seemed destined for wall calendars. Connecting places called “notch” and “gap,” Highway 16, when combined with U.S. Highways 302, 3 and 2, provides a scenic 90-mile loop through some of the Northeast’s most remarkable mountain scenery.
Jemez Mountain Trail Byway in New Mexico
There are few places on earth where a traveler can pass through desert, forested mountain, volcano, grassland and canyon terrain in the short span of 60 miles but New Mexico’s Highway 4 is one of them. Designated the Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway along with State Highway 501, scenic Highway 4 connects Los Alamos to the greater Albuquerque area. The drive passes national and state monuments, traverses the dormant Valles Caldera supervolcano and a massive grassland, and then heads down San Diego canyon past hot springs, red cliffs, and pueblos.
Talimena Scenic Drive in Oklahoma/Arkansas
Winding and steep roadways may be common in central Colorado or eastern Tennessee, but you may be pleasantly surprised to find such a road in America’s Heartland — the Talimena Scenic Drive. A National Scenic Byway, the Talimena stretches for 54 miles as Oklahoma Highway 1 and Arkansas Highway 88, skirting the tops of two of the tallest peaks in the beautiful Ouachita Mountains. The drive winds its way through old growth forests and past 22 overlooks, campgrounds and picnic areas. All while providing a sense of great altitude.