It’s road trip season! When we were living on Kauai, the opportunities for a road trip were somewhat limited. 😉 Now that we’re back on the mainland, we’ve taken a few others. But still, we recommend these as our top 5 favorites in the U.S. and Canada.
The Road to Hana – Maui, HI – “35MPH never felt so fast!”
The tropical wow factor from this day trip can’t be beat! Hairpin turns, mountain-hugging one lane bridges, and the spectacular scenery Hawaii is famous for, unimpeded (mostly) by guardrails and road shoulders. Best enjoyed from a convertible. Limited stops and facilities once you’re out of Paia, so pick up a box lunch and fill up your cooler at one of several starting point restaurants.
Eats and libations can be found in Hana at Hana Ranch Restaurant.
Note: A devastating fire has destroyed much of Lahaina and other areas of Maui as of August 9, 2023. Please double-check with your accommodations and adjust your expectations if you are planning to visit.
Icefields Parkway – Jasper to Banff, AB “The color of the water!”
Friends warned us this route would easily make our Top 5 and they were right on the money. The contrast between laid-back Jasper and glamourous Banff bookends a breathtaking journey through the Canadian Rockies past numerous stream beds, waterfalls, and the fabled Lake Louise. In Jasper, splurge on continental cuisine at Villa Caruso. In Banff, stay comfortably and inexpensively by comparison at Best Western Siding 29 Lodge.
The Last Frontier – Fairbanks to Turnagain Arm, AK “Look for the Big 5: moose, bear, caribou, Dahl sheep, wolf”
Raw wilderness within minutes of Fairbanks, Anchorage, and all points in between. This trip can and should take you several days, as you will want to pay your respects to Denali, the granddaddy of all peaks, in the National Park by the same name. Spot the “Big 5” in wildlife from numerous vantage points, including your vehicle as you speed along a very well-maintained highway. Don’t miss Turnagain Arm south of Anchorage; look for pods of killer whales making their way up the inlet.
Appalachia – Johnstown PA to Asheville NC “Almost Heaven”
A most marvelous, and perhaps somewhat overlooked, route with understated, yet lofty grandeur. Climbing and plummeting from the Allegheny Range through the Great Smoky Mountains and the Blue Ridge Plateau, this route takes you through Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina. The magnificent New River Gorge National River and numerous State Parks offer superlative outdoor experiences. Don’t miss: Asheville, NC, a little gem nestled on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Lake Superior Circle Tour – MI, WI, MN, ON “Around Gitche Gumee”
Hailing from Minnesota all those years, we’re partial to the inland sea named “Big Water” by the Ojibwe. Don’t be fooled by the trip estimate of 22 hours. This is a drive that is best savored over the course of a week or more, leading you through the wilderness to stopping points which originated out of historical transfer points for raw materials such as furs, ore, and timber. The southern shores contain sandy beaches, while the northern perimeter is comprised of rocky promontories that plunge into the Lake’s cold water. Time your visit to take advantage of summer festivals celebrating voyageurs in Grand Portage, MN and Thunder Bay, ON. Don’t miss: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising, and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point.
Writing this post was a fun review of the great road trips we’ve taken over the past couple of years! Happy trails!