With winter in full swing, many U.S. travelers are headed to destinations with warmer weather in an attempt to briefly step away from the cold.
That may be the preferred option for some, but others may take the opportunity to venture on a picturesque wintertime road trip through the mountains. You may typically associate road trips with summer vacation, but there is plenty to do and see in the U.S. during the winter months as well.
Here are five road trip routes you should consider taking this winter.
1. Oregon Round Trip
One good option is to begin your trip in Portland, Oregon, and head out on the Mount Hood Scenic Byway. Make sure to head through Estacada, one of a few places in the U.S. known as The Christmas Tree Capital of the World.
The town got its name for a reason–it harvests nearly 3 million Christmas trees each year.
Later, drive through Oregon City and stop to take a ride down the Christmas Fantasy Trail, which is littered with lights, decorations, and music.
2. Badlands Loop
The Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway in South Dakota is a photogenic road trip anytime of the year, but the mountainous views can be particularly breathtaking during the winter.
The 31-mile stretch is a fairly modest two-lane highway, but it passes a number of cliffs and buttes that look even prettier when dusted with snow.
The weather may be near freezing, but those who venture out to Badlands National Park will be rewarded. The park is home to a number of passes and some 15 overlooks, along with eight trails.
Other stops along the loop include Big Badlands Overlook, Pinnacles Overlook and Yellow Mounds Overlook.
3. Loneliest Road
The Loneliest Road stretches between the East and West coasts, slicing the continental U.S. through its midsection. This road trip route offers plenty to see along the way, depending on which stretch of the road you choose.
In the more Eastern part of the U.S., the Loneliest Road can take you through the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia, heading into or out of Washington, D.C.
The Western portion of the road features a number of scenic destinations, including Lake Tahoe, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, and of course the Rocky Mountains. If you’re looking for a place to camp along the route, consider Great Basin National Park.
4. Minnesota to Wisconsin
Weather-wise, the Minnesota and Wisconsin aren’t exactly tropical during the winter months. But that’s part of the charm.
Driving on Route 13 out of Duluth will lead you to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, where you will encounter ice caves that need to be seen to be believed. While you may not encounter much by way of mountains for skiing in the area, you can still take a hike or try cross-country skiing along one of the area’s many trails.
In fact, a must-see attraction is the Birkie Trail system, a 100-kilometer network that will challenge all levels of hikers and skiers.
5. Route 100 in Vermont
An option for those in the Northeast corner of the U.S. is the Scenic Route 100 Byway in Vermont, which passes through 20 towns, including Stockbridge, Pittsfield, Weston, Dover, Wilmington and Stamford.
The cornerstone of the Route 100 is the Green Mountains, which feature a good number of ski resorts. Those looking for striking water scenes should drive along the Black River, which will pass by Lake Rescue, Amherst and Echo Lakes.
Thundering Brook Falls is also worth a visit, as is a gondola ride that heads up Killington Peak, the state’s second highest mountain.
6. Embrace the Season
While a winter road trip may not sound ideal to some, it’s really a great opportunity to relish what the great American road trip is all about: Taking in parts of the country you otherwise might not get a chance to.
Sure, the weather may not be the best, but consider this–if driving becomes slower because it happens to snow, that only gives you more time to enjoy the views. It can be a much more rewarding experience than it would be if you’re zipping past a scenic point at 75 miles per hour.
About the Author
Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.