BEST ICONIC DRIVES IN THE UNITED STATESSep 14th, 2012 | By James E Becker | Category: Senior Travel
Terrific Scenic Drives Await Seniors
Here are 7 of the most iconic drives in America today.
i·con·ic [ ī kónnik ]
Many scenic drives in the US today are truly iconic. In fact, our country abounds with breathtaking routes and a wide variety of landscapes. Some wind through dramatic mountain ranges, others along one coast or another. Some take seniors to or through national parks, famous monuments and along breathtaking seashores. Others are part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s grassroots America’s Byways program that I wrote about earlier. Here are seven drives that will make your senior jaw drop and are considered unforgettable routes. Most of these I have only heard or read about so join me, mark them out on your US map and let’s enjoy the ride together.
1. Florida Overseas Highway
Built in the 1930s and rebuilt in the ’80s, the 127-mile segment of U.S. 1 from Key West to Miami is an official Florida Scenic Highway, offering many breathtaking water views.
2. Blue Ridge Parkway
This 469-mile road from Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia is one of the South’s most iconic drives.
3. San Juan Skyway and Million Dollar Highway
Cutting a route below numerous 14,000-foot peaks (aka “fourteeners”) in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, this 233-mile loop takes senior travelers through three passes — all the while passing some of the most beautiful spots in the Rockies.
4. Pacific Coast Highway
The serpentine California Highway 1, above and along the Pacific Ocean, is the Golden State’s definitive drive. There are two stretches that are equally iconic: the 123-mile drive from Cambria to Monterey and the 140-mile chunk north of San Francisco, from Point Reyes National Seashore to Jenner and Mendocino, one of the West Coast’s funkiest and most scenic towns.
5. Devil’s Backbone
What’s officially known as R.M. 32 is one of the Lone Star State’s prettiest drives. It runs 50 miles, give or take, from Wimberley to Blanco, and along the way it navigates a winding ridge that showcases Texas Hill Country.
6. Beartooth Highway
With one terminus at the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park, the Beartooth Highway was dubbed “the most scenic drive in America” by late broadcasting legend Charles Kuralt. Open in summer only, the route traverses 10,947-foot Beartooth Pass between Red Lodge and Cooke City, Mont., zigzagging in and out of Wyoming en route. It’s full of open high alpine plateaus dotted with countless glacial lakes, forested valleys, waterfalls and wildlife.
7. Utah Highway 12
Bookended by two national parks — Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef — Highway 12 cuts through 124 miles of dramatic Southwestern red-rock scenery. En route, it also provides access to the lesser-visited Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Kodachrome Basin State Park.
So seniors, gas up old Jenny and hit some of these iconic routes.
Senior Citizen Travelers
Want more? National Geographic has a super booklet called 500 Drives of a Lifetime. It’s both a practical guide and an inspiring travel gift book and highlights the world’s best car trips. The eclectic list takes readers across stunning natural landscapes of mountain, coastline, glen, and dale; into charming towns and out-of-the-way hamlets; to palatial estates, lovely gardens, and intriguing historic sites; and through bustling, thriving cities all over the world map. jeb