The Snoop

Study Tells America’s Best Road Trips

An article with that title ran in a recent edition of the Herald.

Before landing in Ava, my family and I traveled full-time in an RV for 8 years. As you might expect, any article that has ‘Road Trips’ in the title gets my attention.

The article (which was funded by a company that sells a GPS-enabled fleet tracking system) attempted to rank a number of classic American road trips by using data. 

Data from online reviews. From traffic tracking sources. From websites that allow users to create itineraries. And more.

The results are interesting, sure. And while we haven’t driven all of the road trips featured in the Geotab study, we’ve been on bits or across pieces of many of them. 

Some thoughts:

1. Ignore the data.

If you love old cars and 1950’s American culture, don’t let a random internet article keep you from doing a Route 66 road trip (#44/50 in the report). 

If you love sunsets over water, clean sandy beaches, fresh lake fishing, and lighthouses, the “Gold Coast” of Michigan (#49/50 in the report and our home) is well worth it.

If you love Blues music, by all means take the “Blues Highway” trip from Memphis to New Orleans (#50/50 in the report) and find the fabled crossroads for yourself.

2. Slow down. 

While the report says you can drive the 2300-mile-long Great River Road in six days, it took us six weeks. And we still missed a lot of what that route had to offer. 

Get mileage estimates from Google Maps, but ignore time estimates. Figure 50 MPH on average for driving days. This allows for traffic, restroom breaks, stops for lunch, etc.

Driving 350 miles a day is doable, but won’t leave you much time to explore anything along the way.

3. Don’t see it all.

It’s OK to leave unexplored territory for the future. 

We drove past National Parks like Big Bend, Joshua Tree, and Zion. Missed entire cities like Hollywood, Boston, and Charleston. Skipped over more restaurants, theme parks and museums than I can remember. 

We had different reasons. Weather. Schedule. Finances. 

We haven’t seen it all, so can go back to places we’ve already been.

Our top road trips?

1. The Columbia River Gorge. Starting in Portland, OR and ending (for us), in Pasco, WA, this drive follows the Columbia River, and the sweeping views, colorful bluffs, and river views make it one of the prettiest in the country.

2. Highway 550 from Albuquerque, NM to Silverton, CO. 

From the ice-cream colored desert mounds of New Mexico to the Switzerland-like lush green San Juan mountains of Colorado, I’m not sure there’s another 263 miles in the USA where the scenery changes so radically. 

3. The Great River Road in Minnesota in the Fall

Rock bluffs framed in fall colors, crisp temperatures, and the Mississippi River made for a gorgeous and memorable drive.