With the rise of the latest pandemic, the way that we travel has had to change. Some people are staying safe by avoiding air travel altogether, while others opt to limit their vacations to less populated destinations. Many adventure-seekers have found comfort in social distancing while taking in the sights from the safety of their cars. If you like the idea of letting your hair blow in the wind while enjoying the cool fall breeze, a scenic drive through a one-of-a-kind backdrop may be the perfect escape. Here are three impressive scenic drives to visit this fall:
- The Road to Hana Highway (Maui)
On paper, the Road to Hana may look like your average coastal drive. However, this vehicular adventure is anything but. Maui’s 52-mile trek along Hwy. 36 follows the island’s northeastern shore from Paia to Haleakala’s Back Side. With more than 600 hairpin curves and 59 bridges, the narrow road that hugs steep cliffs is not for the faint of heart.
Despite its intimidating terrain, The Road to Hana usually sees an average of 500,000 annual visitors. However, Hawaii’s transportation department closed the road to the public from March to July to help protect vulnerable residents from COVID-19. Now that it has reopened, natives urge tourists to embrace the Aloha spirit by adhering to the speed limit, pulling over to let residential traffic pass, and wearing a mask if you decide to get out of your car. If you prioritize safety and etiquette, the island will reward you with countless breathtaking views and memories that are guaranteed to last a lifetime. Although it takes a minimum of three hours to drive straight through, many excursionists spend their entire day taking advantage of all that the scenic drive has to offer.
Along The Road to Hana, you can:
- Visit roadside food stands where you can buy delicious treats like fresh tropical fruits or loaves of world-renowned banana bread
- Hike through the rainforest trails (Waikamoi Ridge Trail, Pipiwai Trail) and a bamboo forest
- Take pictures at the numerous overlooks (Wailua Lookout, Ho’okipa Lookout and more)
- Visit a Lava Tube
- Go to the beach (Hamoa Beach, Koki Beach, Pa’iola Beach and more)
- Check out a waterfall (Upper Waikani Falls, Hanawi Falls, Wailua Falls and more)
2. Going-To-The-Sun Road (Montana)
Glacier National Park, near Columbia Falls, Montana is home to Going-To-The-Sun Road. This beautiful 50-mile drive stretches from the park’s Rising Sun entrance to its St. Mary entrance (barring any closures). This Rocky Mountain treasure will grant you panoramic views of pine-covered valleys and majestic lakes. The scenery is breathtaking. At the mountains’ highest points, it even seems like the peaks are touching the clouds. Usually, the road is open from June until the third Monday in October, but depending on the weather, the road can open later. Former visitors suggest that you plan to spend at least four hours to complete the drive. But you’ll probably want to stop and check out these park features:
3. Route 66
World famous Route 66 is the longest scenic drive on the list, stretching more than 2,400 miles from California to Illinois. It’s been featured in songs, TV series, and even served as a backdrop for the popular Pixar film, Cars. Although the original Route 66 was only commissioned from 1926 to 1984 (making it impossible to drive straight through today), some states chose to preserve parts of the highway and keep the number 66 in the updated road names. Starting in 1987, “Historic Route 66” markers were posted (or painted directly on the street) throughout the length of the original route, and can still be found today. Most modern travelers don’t drive the entire distance of the 8-state highway, but if you do choose to travel back in time for a visit to this famous road, you may want to check out:
- The Art Institute of Chicago (Illinois)
- Meramec Caverns (Missouri)
- Eisler Brothers Old Riverton Store (Kansas)
- Pops 66 Soda Ranch (Oklahoma)
- Midpoint Cafe (Texas)
- Acoma Pueblo (New Mexico)
- The Grand Canyon (Arizona)
- Santa Monica Pier (California)
Don’t let coronavirus stop you from exploring the great outdoors this fall season. You can enjoy these three impressive scenic drives without ever stepping foot outside of your car. If you do decide to visit one of the tourist attractions along the way, make sure to follow the appropriate social distancing, hand washing, and masking protocols to help keep everyone healthy.