Take a Drive on a Scenic Byway
By Jessica Sanders
There's a reason your parents liked taking "the scenic route" when you were a kid: it's because the scenic route is more interesting. In fact, 150 roads in the U.S. have been designated as scenic byways because of their cultural, historic, recreational or scenic qualities. Embrace the phrase, "The journey is the destination," and make your next trip more memorable on one of these scenic byways.
Mirror Lake Scenic Byway
Kamas, Utah to Evanston, Wyoming
As you leave the small town of Kamas, you enter a pine-covered pass. Ascending up into mountain terrain, meadows and tall peaks dot the roadside and skyline. The height of the byway is at Bald Mountain Pass where you hit 10,687 feet. Be sure to pause and take in the beauty at the many stopping points along the way.
Camp at Mirror Lake
Kancamagus Scenic Byway
North Woodstock, New Hampshire to Conway, New Hampshire
Leave the hustle and bustle of life behind as you drive through the White Mountains. Few scenic byways are more beautiful in the fall than this one, each tree bursting with fiery red and brilliant yellow. With no gas stations, restaurants or hotels in close proximity you can truly get away from it all.
Camp at Covered Bridge
Peak to Peak Scenic and Historic Byway
Central City, Colorado to Estes Park, Colorado
Of all the scenic byways, history buffs need to travel this one. Peak to Peak was deemed Colorado's oldest scenic highway in 1918. Here you'll catch the Continental Divide, historic mining sites and Roosevelt National Forest. Snow capped mountains and yellow green meadows are the perfect backdrop for your photo op.
Camp at Columbine Campground
Nebo Loop Scenic Byway
Nephi, Utah to Payson, Utah
At 11,929 feet, Mt. Nebo stretches high into the clouds on one of the most geographically diverse scenic byways. The various terrains make this an interesting ride from end to end, with flat bottomlands, red rock formations and salt flats. The usually tall alpine conifers pale in comparison to the size of Mt. Neebo, but make for a distinct and breathtaking drive all the same.
Camp at Blackhawk
Whitefish Bay Scenic Byway
Whitefish Township, Michigan to Bay Mills Township, Michigan
This scenic byway runs through the Hiawatha National Forest, along Whitefish Bay, where clear waters and long, sandy beaches make this a drive to remember. Take a day trip in the summer season and try a few beaches as you cruise down the route.
Camp at Bay View
Big Sur Coast Highway
Carmel, California to Monterey, California
Few scenic byways are more picturesque than this one. Running parallel to the bright blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, rugged cliffs, infinite blue skies and sea lions give you a reason to stop at nearly every mile marker. Be sure to get out from behind your camera to breathe the fresh sea air and take in the pristine views.
Camp at Pfeiffer Big Sur
The Edge of the Wilderness Scenic Byway
Grand Rapids, Minnesota to Effie, Minnesota
One of the first scenic byways to be deemed a National Scenic Byway, this drive is as rich in history as it is in beauty. Roll down the windows as you wind through forests, swamps and unspoiled lakes. Then come back in fall to see the trees alive, bright with color.
Camp at Clubhouse Lake
Bighorn Scenic Byway
Shell, Wyoming to Sheridan, Wyoming
As you coast through the Big Horn Mountains you'll admire the lush forests and brightly colored meadows of this scenic byway. Don't miss the 120-foot cascading waterfalls of Shell Falls; some of the most extraordinary scenery you'll find on this breathtaking drive.
Camp at Sibley Lake
Reserve a campsite.
Jessica Sanders is the Associate Online Editor for ReserveAmerica.com. After many years of camping and hiking in the Northeast, she's exploring what the West has to offer and sharing all of her knowledge with you. She's a s'mores master, campsite connoisseur, writer, runner and lover of all things outdoors. Follow her on Google+.