Buckle up for these five iconic American road trips

Rising gas prices may discourage some travelers from packing their bags in the weeks and months ahead. Still, the American road trip remains an enduring tradition that ultimately can be an affordable vacation option. Here are five ways to hit the road.

1. Colo-road trips

The Colorado Office of Tourism has made it easy for travelers to explore the state’s 24 scenic and historic highways. The tourist board’s microsite includes an interactive map that allows travelers to explore options by region, interest or season.

Travelers looking for inspiration can also access insider tips and excursion suggestions on over 150 Colo-road travel itineraries, making it easy to plan multi-day adventures. Flexible itineraries offer suggestions for historic attractions and active adventures, and highlight cultural opportunities. Site visitors can also view picnic, dining, hiking and accommodation suggestions.

Contact: www.colorado.com/colorados-scenic-historic-byways; www.colorado.com/colo-road-trips

2. Skyline Drive, Virginia

Winding along the mountain ridge through woods and past spectacular vistas, Virginia’s Skyline Drive begins at Front Royal and twists and turns southwest through Shenandoah National Park.

You’ll ride through over 200,000 acres of protected land that’s home to deer, songbirds, black bears, cascading waterfalls and fields of wildflowers. Hike in the shade of oak trees along the Appalachian Trail, learn stories of Shenandoah’s past, or explore the wilderness at your leisure.

Contact: www.nps.gov/shen

3. The Beartooth Highway

Visitors taking this extraordinary route experience the visual trifecta of Montana, Wyoming and Yellowstone Park, passing through the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains. The 68-mile, windy, cliff-side stretch presents explorers of the route with one of the most diverse ecosystems accessible by car.

Soaring 10,947 feet above sea level, it is also the highest highway in the Northern Rockies. Stunningly beautiful, the all-American route features wide alpine highlands, painted with ice-blue glacial lakes, forested valleys, waterfalls and wildlife.

Plan plenty of stops so the driver can enjoy the spyglass or the whole crew can hike to a nearby alpine lake.

Contact: http://beartoothhighway.com

4. The California Dream

For majestic coastal scenery and sea breezes, hop in the car for a trip up (or down) our country’s west coast. Start in ultra-hip Santa Monica, California, and cruise past Hearst Castle. Push north to Carmel, then to the legendary bay town of San Francisco.

Other road trip options in this sunny state include a taco tour or an itinerary that showcases the best surf spots. Travelers can also experience the bizarre attractions found in the California desert by following the state’s Amazing Desert Oddities route.

Contact: www.VisitCalifornia.com

5. The Lighthouse Trail in Maine

Travel the 375 miles between Kittery and Calais, Maine, visiting lighthouses along the way, and learn about the dangers seagoing vessels and their crews endured along the rugged northeast coast.

Hear stories of shipwrecks and ghosts, and the difficult and lonely lives led by those who kept the lights on. If possible, visit the Maine Lighthouse Museum, where artifacts and interactive exhibits for children provide an engaging break.

Contact: www.MaineLighthouseMuseum.com; www.VisitMaine.com

Lynn O’Rourke Hayes (LOHayes.com) is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel information on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook or via FamilyTravel.com

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