Best summer road trips
Summer is road-trip time, and America is one of the best places in the world to explore by car. For many, this means seeing the country zoom by at interstate-highway speed. But getting just a bit off the beaten path can lead to vast vistas and roads built for pleasure, not business.
Here are six summer road-trip routes that get you away from the everyday bustle and into a more relaxing state of mind. They work well for travelers with either four or two wheels. Plan to spend at least three days exploring any of them at a leisurely pace.
It would be hard to pinpoint one section of the coast as the best, so why try? See it all. Highway 101 runs from Oregon’s northern border to its southern end, hugging the shoreline much of the way. The often-winding route is dotted with a string of well-tended state parks, each offering a different combination of hikes, tide pools, giant trees, sandy beaches and sometimes surfing. Many of them also offer RV, tent or even yurt camping spots (reserve ahead in summer).
Small- and medium-sized cities along the route (there are no big ones) offer a range of lodging, restaurants and shopping. Some of the most inviting: Cannon Beach, Newport, Florence, Bandon and Port Orford.
If you have a choice, head north to south so you’re in the lane closest to the water and can easily make the many scenic pullouts that will likely call to you.
Getting to Glacier (Montana)
Glacier National Park is known for its impressive peaks and snowfields — and roads that are very much part of the experience. Don’t miss Going-to-the-Sun Road on the U.S. side or the parkways in Waterton Lakes National Park on the Canadian side. Other beautiful mountain roads flank the park, including the Chief Mountain International Highway (bring your passport!).
The route to Glacier can be almost as beautiful as the park itself, with quintessential small-town hospitality to boot. Some visitors come via Yellowstone National Park, while others arrive from the east or west.
Although it’s easy to reach Glacier by interstate highways, alternate routes appeal to those who like uncrowded bendy roads through forests and past mountains. Consider, for example, leaving I-2 at Sandpoint in northern Idaho and taking MT 200 through small towns like Thompson Falls (a nice snack stop) to Highway 93 south of the national park. Bring your fly rod and get a fishing license: This is blue-ribbon trout territory.