Winter certainly has its positive attributes, and a snow-covered landscape can be a dazzling sight. But most often, the season’s harsh weather and gray skies are a bleak affair that make us want to retreat to cozier conditions indoors. And after some time, we’re all inclined to come down with a case of cabin fever. So, when the weather begins to turn again, there’s nothing quite like getting outdoors.
These five road trips will take you through some of the most picturesque areas in the country. In spring, they come alive with wildlife, verdant greenery and blankets of vibrantly colored flowers. They are the perfect antidote to kiss the winter blues goodbye.
For the most enjoyable journey to our nation’s capital, try the George Washington Memorial Parkway. This 25-mile roadway was designed for sight-seeing. Not only does it weave through historic sites, it also provides an incredibly scenic route.
Along the way, visit Lady Bird Johnson Park. This green space is an island in the Potomac River located near the Pentagon. Known for her work in promoting and preserving the country’s natural landscape, the island was renamed in honor of the former first lady in 1968. As an ode to Johnson, landscape architects have transformed the park into a floral oasis. Each spring, the park’s thousands of daffodils and hundreds of tulips come back to life to mark the changing of the seasons.
But the pièce de résistance to any spring road trip to Washington is a stop at the Tidal Basin to see the famous cherry blossoms. The cherry blossoms usually bloom between late March and early April. The event is held in such high regard locally, it is celebrated with a three-week National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Texas Hill Country
Speaking of the former first lady, she also worked hard to beautify her native Texas. In doing so, vast stretches of bluebonnets were planted throughout Texas Hill Country. The best way to experience the landscape is by following the Willow City Loop. Located just outside Austin, this 13-mile drive weaves you through the most picturesque stretch of central Texas.
Along the route are meadows bustling with bluebonnets, daisies, sunflowers, Indian paintbrush, firewheels, Mexican poppies and much more. The distinctive landscape is highlighted by a canyon carved by Coal Creek. There is also an abundance of wildlife in the area. While the trip is enjoyable to take any time of the year, visitors should aim to go during wildflower season, which lasts from March to May.
Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive
It won’t take long into your journey to discover why they call the Blue Ridge Parkway “America’s Favorite Drive.” Winding 469 miles in total, the parkway stretches from North Carolina to Virginia running alongside the Appalachian Mountains. Because it weaves through different environments, Blue Ridge is renowned for its expansive biodiversity – the perfect place to catch animals awakening from hibernation and flowers coming into bloom.
When driving north, Blue Ridge Parkway turns into Skyline Drive as you cross I-64 just outside Charlottesville. This 105-mile parkway guides drivers through Shenandoah National Park. In fact, it is the only public roadway in the park. Lining Skyline Drive for miles are rock walls that date back to the 1930s. Along the route are more than 70 overlooks, offering picturesque views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Shenandoah Valley. Consider these the perfect spots to pull over and stretch your legs.
Acadia National Park
National parks are the country’s prime examples of natural beauty. Rightfully so, they are well represented on this list. As winter thaws away, there may be no national park more ripe for a visit than Maine’s Acadia National Park.
The park’s main thruway is Park Loop Road. Traveling the 27-mile loop is the best way to see the various landscapes of Acadia. However, the roadway doesn’t open for the year until April 15, making spring the perfect time to visit.
The drive takes you past Eagle Lake and Jordan Pond as you head south. Then you can enjoy a coastal cruise as you begin to circle back north. Along the way are overlooks for sightseeing and countless trails if you want to get up close and personal with nature. For truly out-of-this-world views, turn off Park Loop Road onto Cadillac Summit Road. The drive takes you to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast.
The Historic Columbia River Highway
The Columbia River Gorge is one of the most spectacular sights in the country. The river carves into the Cascade Mountains, creating a dramatic canyon lined with towering basalt walls. A drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway is the best way to soak up all the natural beauty of the area.
The highway begins in Troutdale, Ore., just outside Portland and skirts the river for 70 miles eastward. Along the way, the road passes one waterfall after another, including Multnomah Falls. At 620 feet, Multnomah is one of the tallest waterfalls in the country. Beginning in late March, wildflowers such as the Columbia kittentail will begin to bloom along the banks and shaded cliffs of the gorge.
For even more Oregon beauty, exit the highway onto Route 35 heading south. An hour drive will get you to Mount Hood. The mountain rises more than 11,000 feet into the air, making it the state’s highest peak.
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