Top 10 summer drives
Memorial Day is nearly here, which means summer is around the corner. Have you made travel plans? If not, here are 10 suggestions for incredible drives around the U.S. that will hopefully inspire and motivate you to hit the road. The only question is, are you driving your classic? But that’s not much of a question, really, is it?
Enjoy and please share your suggestions in the comment section below. Our suggestions, in no particular order:
The Million-Dollar Highway – Colorado
The highway’s name alone should tell you something. But the 220-mile loop from Durango, Colo., north to Ridgway via US-550 and then west to Placerville (via Colorado-62) and south to Dolores (via Colorado-145), is truly incredible. Full of switchbacks, curves, and breath-taking drop-offs, the route may test your skill, and it will definitely test your car’s brakes, steering, suspension, and carburation. Plan accordingly, and have a blast.
Woodward Avenue – Michigan
If you’re near Detroit during the Woodward Dream Cruise, this is a must. But if you can’t make it then, at least take the time to cruise America’s first paved road. In 1909, Woodward Avenue was paved in concrete between 6 Mile and 7 Mile Roads. Today, Woodward (which stretches from Detroit’s center to its suburbs) is still packed with car-culture hot spots like Pasteiner’s Auto Zone Hobbies, Vinsetta Garage, M1 Concourse, and the Highland Park Model T assembly plant.
Great Smoky Mountains – North Carolina
Another fun, twisty route heads south from Chilhowee, Tenn., to Topton, N.C., via US-129. From there, head north via US-74 to Almond, N.C., back west to Robbinsville on North Carolina-28, 143, and Tennessee-165 to Tellico Plains. Jump on US-411 and Tennessee-360 and finally, loop around Little Tennessee River to State Route-72 and back to US-129 to Chilhowee. The 172-mile loop features the Great Smoky Mountains’ rolling hills and should take you a bit over four hours. Note that some sections are very curvy and you might encounter high-speed sports car traffic.
Anchorage to Seward – Alaska
Few people have been lucky enough to experience this drive, but the scenery is incredible. It’s a simple 2½- hour drive from Anchorage to Seward, Alaska, only 127 miles. However, bordered by the jagged Chugach Mountain peaks and the Turnagain Arm’s scenic coastline, you’ll want to pull over every tenth of a mile to snap photos and admire the wild landscape. Kenai Lake is particularly gorgeous, but picking one spot is akin to choosing your favorite child.
The Tunnel of Trees – Michigan
It’s just a 20-mile stretch on Michigan-119, way up north. The designated Scenic Heritage Route is also undivided and lacks a centerline. Wait ’til you see it though. It’s definitely not a high-speed route, more about the relaxed drive than your destination. If it seems too remote to detour, plan a drive from Minnesota or Wisconsin to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and swing down to loop around Lake Michigan.
The Loneliest Road – Nevada
It’s a section of US-50, which runs from W. Sacramento, Calif., to Ocean City, Md. This part runs through northcentral Nevada’s vast, desert heart. If not for law enforcement or wildlife, this endless dragstrip would be ideal for top-speed runs. The drive isn’t for everyone (the road’s nickname is appropriate), but if you just want to hit the road without a destination in mind, this is probably that road.
Pacific Coast Highway – California
Much like the route from Anchorage to Seward, Alaska, the Pacific Coast Highway is beautiful. However, PCH is much longer, running from San Diego to San Francisco. There are also many scenic opportunities along the way, as well as points of interest, like the Hearst Castle, Big Sur, and Los Angeles, which might just be Mecca for car folks.
The Berkshires – Massachusetts
It’s just 30 miles from Lenox to Russell, Mass., but the drive through rural western Massachusetts is very pretty. Spotted with small towns and mountain spring runoff glistening down rock walls, there are also plenty of trails right off the road if you’d like to walk the woods a while, too. When you’re done, head into Springfield or down to Hartford, Conn.
The Badlands – South Dakota
Head south from Spearfish, S.D., into the Black Hills National Forest via U.S.-85 and -385 to Wind Cave N.P. The towering limestone cliffs shepherd you along the set of the cancelled TV show “Deadwood.” When you reach Hot Springs, head west into Wyoming and cut north, back to Spearfish. It’s about 250 miles and requires almost five hours, non-stop.
The National Park Trail – Utah
Arguably the prettiest real estate in the continental U.S., you’ll want to return here often. From Bryce’s hoodoos to Arches National Park’s arches, you’ll see it all. Beginning in Zion National Park, head east and then north to Bryce Canyon N.P. Once more east and north to Capitol Reef N.P., then east again to Canyonlands N.P. and finally north to Arches N.P. The orange, iron-rich land will paint your route the entire way and you can either head south to Arizona’s Grand Canyon or east to the aforementioned Million Dollar Highway. If you’re going, we’re jealous.