Most people feel like summer is the best of the year to get out on the road on go for a cross-country trip – which is why, according to Bridgestone, almost 90% of Americans take summer road trips.
For some people, winter driving is considered a utilitarian necessity, but taking a road trip may have a few benefits you never thought about.
In addition to cheap gas prices, nation’s top national parks are usually crowd-free during the winter, American iconic routes have far less traffic and lodging rates are also significantly lower.
And even if that didn’t peak your interest, let’s take a look at some of the most incredible drives across the United States you need to experience in your lifetime…
1. Alaska: Anchorage to Talkeetna
Distance: Around 225 miles
Time: Between three and five days
This trail might be a bit challenged for less-experienced drivers and it will make you feel like an Ice Road Trucker, but if you’re up for the challenge, you’ll see just how rewarding the trail is. Just an hour north of Anchorage, you stop in the Mat-Su Valley and visit the Nordic ski, designed by Alaska’s Hall of Fame biathlete, Bill Spencer.
After continuing on the George Parks Highway, you should definitely visit Talkeetna, and ditch the boring asphalt for some snowy peaks. And if you don’t want to spend a night in your car, stay in Talkeetna Roadhouse, and try their famous gooey cinnamon rolls.
2. New York City and Pennsylvania: Manhattan to Bradford
Distance: Around 350 miles
Time: Seven days
After visiting SoHo, the Fifth Avenue and maybe visiting the famous Christmas tree near the Rockefeller Center you should exit onto I-80 and drive 350 miles through Norman Rockwell countryside. At the end of your trip, you should stop in Ellicottville and if you can afford it, visit the biggest private ski resort in the United States.
After HoliMont, you should go south and see the beautiful Allegany State Park and go to the Relais and Chateau Lodge that has a steep sledding hill, its own ice-skating pond and a cross country trail network. And if you’re worried about being cold – don’t worry – the places more than 40 fireplaces.
3. New Mexico and Colorado: Santa Fe to Wolf Creek
Distance: Around 150 miles
Time: Between three and four days
Going through Santa Fe will be a challenge – with all margaritas and festive farolitos, you probably won’t feel like leaving. But the Wolf Creek Ski Area that has more than 400 inches of snow per year will definitely be worth it. Along the US 84, you can see everything the flat-topped peaks of Perianal to the jagged white San Juans.
We just have to warn you, the weather conditions may be a little bit rough in Colorado during the winter, so you have to make sure that your car is prepared. That means winter tires and blades are a must and it would be smart to use Castrol engine oil to protect your engine from the conditions.
4. Nevada & Utah: Las Vegas to Zion
Distance: Around 245 miles
Time: Between seven and ten days
You can start your trip by watching the fountains of Bellagio dance to the tune of Santa Baby and catching La Reve in Vegas before setting off on I-15 through the desert to the cliff of Zion National Park. If you time your trip with the New Year, you can go on a six-day-long hiking quest with REI.
This snowshoeing journey includes hiking across an ice-covered plateau, a series of more than 20 steep switchbacks to Scout Lookout in Zion and even a New Year hike. And if you have any energy left afterwards, you can go to the private ranch nearby and finish the New Year’s Eve with a party.
Although the scenery is amazing, you still can’t forget that driving conditions can be pretty dangerous during the winter. Therefore, you need to pack an emergency kit with a few blankets, flashlights, winter boots and snacks. Get your vehicle checked and make sure that everything is in order before you go.
Besides the essentials, your winter emergency kit should include an ice scraper, road flares, a tow rope, matches and a weather radio. Plus, it would be a good idea to let someone know about your schedule, the roads you plan on traveling and the locations you’ll visit in case you get lost and someone needs to find you.
But winter is still a great time to travel, because you have clear roads, a ton of fresh air and snow-covered mountain tops at your disposal. So all you need to do is heat up your car, get a few friends and hit the road…