October 15 2012 by Matthew Clyde
I'm now a mini-van driving dad. Not by choice. I was forced into this decision by the other powers in the household - my wife and her cohorts, my 2 daughters and son. They are in heaven in our fully-loaded, state of the art family mobile for the new millennium. And if our kids had their way they would permanently move into the van.
Despite my hesitations, secretly I have enjoyed the new supped up transportation. Recently we took a drive through Northern Arizona and Southern Utah - which holds some of the most spectacular scenery and landscapes in the nation. A key benefit to the new mini-van set up is the second the kids inquire "Are we there yet?" we can easily flip a switch and they can be entertained with a DVD or game and my wife and I can enjoy the scenery on the road ahead.
As I took this drive I felt fortunate to live close to so many great, scenic drives. So as fall fast approaches and the seasons change, there isn't a greater time than now to plan a simple road trip on an amazing scenic drive--a road trip that is more about the journey along the way than the destination.
As the line from the movie Cars eloquently reminds us, "The road didn't cut through the land like that interstate. It moved with the land, it rose, it fell, it curved. Cars didn't drive on it to make great time. They drove on it to have a great time." So find a great scenic route, pack a picnic, keep the camera handy and enjoy the ride. Here are a few of my favorites and a few I am hoping to try.
Favorite Scenic Drives:
Flagstaff through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona, Arizona
Rand McNally named this a Top 5 Scenic Drive in America. You begin on Highway 89A south of Flagstaff, along a beautiful stretch of lush Ponderosa Pine and wind down through Oak Creek Canyon into Sedona - amazing red rock country. Photo op moment is right at the rim before you descend onto the canyon, the vista is breathtaking.
Route 1 - The Pacific Coast Highway, California.
The sea air, the ocean vistas, the small coastal towns along Southern California's beaches - I love the laid back vibe along the PCH. Only tip is to try and avoid the heavier traffic on the weekends, this scenic drive one is best enjoyed earlier in the week. For the ultimate experience don't stop at the beaches of So. Cal. Keep heading north and amble the entire highway that skirts the entire coastline of the West coast into Oregon and Washington.
Route 6A - Cape Cod, Massachusetts
On the opposite coastline of the U.S. is another one of my favorite scenic drives. Scenic Route 6A, also known as Old King's Highway, captures the nostalgic and charming sentiment of New England. Along the journey you will see picture-perfect scenes of nautical homes, harbors and esteemed New England communities.
Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii
For a one-of-a-kind scenic drive, mixed with a bit of eco-adventure tourism, the road to Hana is not to be missed while on Maui. It requires an early start, a packed lunch, rain gear, hiking gear and a beach gear. Yes, it's that cool. But if that scares you away from the "scenic drive" you can get away with lunch, a full-take a gas and then easily zigzag the coast of the island for 50 plus miles. The drive includes 600 hairpin curves, 54 one-lane bridges, and some of the island's most spectacular sights. There are so many stops, hikes, gardens, waterfalls along the way that it took us the entire day to explore the first 32 miles. Curiosity can lead you into sleepy island villages, botanical gardens with 100-year old mango trees or to The Waianapanapa State Park where you can explore and swim in fresh-water caves. Thrilling? Yes. Scenic? Absolutely. Must see? Without question.
Other scenic drives on my travel to do list:
- Blue Ridge Parkway
- Acadia National Park Loop, Acadia National Park, Maine
- Seward Highway, Alaska
What are your favorite scenic routes? Share them in the comments below!