The 7 Best Road Trips to Take This Winter

Explore winter's nature with road trips that last from a few hours to several days
Editor

Photo Modified: Flickr / Zhang Yu / CC BY 4.0

Is it cold outside? Don’t barricade yourself at home. Heat up the car instead and hit the road. Recruit a few friends, pack an extra jacket and fill up the gas tank. Change your winter environment and go on an exciting road trip!

Also, make the most of the affordable gas because it goes up again.

You have plenty of thrilling options that don’t include speeding down Route 66 in a convertible with the rock music on. The winter can be the perfect time to go on a drive around the country because people stay home and go skiing in the mountains which means (mostly) open roads.

Yellowstone National Park is beautiful in the cold too with its ice cover. The sun reflected in the snow makes for some breathtaking photos.

One crucial thing to remember is that while the scenery is majestic, the driving conditions are more dangerous. Stock up the trunk with flashlights, batteries, blanket, snacks, water, gloves, boots, and a first-aid kit. Get your car checked and make sure it’s in good condition for winter roads. A winter travel safety kit also includes a cell phone, an ice scraper and brush, a tow rope, a candle, matches, and a portable weather radio.

It’s always a good idea to let someone know your schedule and the locations you plan to visit in case they have to find you.

Now that you are all set to go, head to one of these places (or several) and unleash the explorer in you.

New York City to Pennsylvania

Photo Modified: Flickr / Andy Arthur / CC BY 4.0

Go on a magnificent 7-day 348-mile long drive through nature. You can go skiing on you way, enjoy the view of forests (possibly covered in snow), or ice-skate on a frozen pond. Visit the Norman Rockwell countryside. Get on Route 6 is you want access to 19 state parks, six forests and the Allegheny National Forest, along with the state's own Grand Canyon.

Along South Dakota Highway 240

Photo Modified: Flickr / Joel Hernandez / CC BY 4.0

Just 40 miles of driving on the Badlands Loop Road can energize you for weeks ahead with the dozens of picturesque views. Go to the Badlands National Park, which had slowly formed by deposition and erosion starting 69 million years ago. Cedar Pass Lodge is the only lodging and restaurant in the park. It’s going to be cold but you can expect to not cross paths with many (if any) other people on your way, expect the park rangers and maybe lots of sheep.

Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Photo Modified: Flickr / Shenandoah National Park / CC BY 4.0

You can start from Front Royal and drive all of the 105 miles on the Skyline Drive, north and south along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park. This is the only public road through the park. Mornings are going to be frosty but beautiful. Waterfalls crystallize in the winter and the more enthusiastic of you can get to them by snowshoeing or skiing. There are many picnic areas along the route. Many prefer the Elkwallow and South River because of the opportunities to “meet” with raptors and many animals.   

Nevada to Utah though Zion National Park

Photo Modified: Flickr / David Wilson / CC BY 4.0

Fly to Las Vegas, have some fun there for a night or two and rent a car going to the park. It’s just about 240 miles in one direction. Spend about a week driving through the desert to reach the high cliffs of Zion, Utah's First National Park. While you’re at it, visit the Bryce Canyon national Park and see how hoodoos and forests are mixed together.

Minnesota to Wisconsin

Photo Modified: Flickr / Sweet Alize / CC BY 4.0

Want to see some amazing ice caves? Get on Route 13 from Duluth and head to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The trip can take you between three and six days because it’s about 250 miles, including coming back. You can go hiking into out-of-this-world icicles. Nordic skiing is another thrilling option if you chose to go on this road trip. It’s long the 107-kilometer Birkebeiner trail system.

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Photo Modified: Flickr / Jeremy Weber / CC BY 4.0

Start from the Mammoth Hot Springs and drive 52 miles on the Grand Loop Road. Everybody goes there in the summer so you shouldn’t expect any traffic. The winter is a great time to take this trip if you want to see wolves who were re-introduced to the park in 1995 after 70 years. Plan to go skiing or just hike along the trails through the Upper Geyser Basin.

The High Road to Taos, New Mexico

Photo Modified: Flickr / David Baron / CC BY 4.0

The 56 miles between Santa Fe and Taos offer a charming view but twisted road through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Take a ride for a couple of hours and drive into the beauty of the high desert in the winter as snowflakes have likely settled on the pine trees. This road is a beautiful way to experience the state and visit a lot of historical places along the way.

More readings: 

14 Cities That Get the Most Snowfall

20 Cities To Visit This Winter That Won't Break the Bank

Top U.S. Mountain Towns for Relaxation This Winter

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