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Top 10 U.S. Road Trips To Take This Winter

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As we approach the end of October, fall is rapidly giving way into winter. If you’re looking for something memorable to do this winter, why not consider a road trip? Here are several routes perfect for a fun excursion in the colder months. While this list includes several options in areas that are warm year-round, there are a couple in chillier locations.

Due to rapidly changing weather in some areas, it may be a good idea to make sure you have any needed equipment – such as winter tires or chains – for some of the routes further north. You may also want to double-check any relevant road conditions before heading out, as they can sometimes change rapidly. 

Top 10 Winter Road Trips

1. Route 66

This iconic road can make for a great winter road trip! While the entire route can take up to three weeks, you could also opt to only traverse a section of it. Flagstaff, Arizona to the end of Route 66 in California, for example, takes approximately 7 hours. This makes it a great weekend trip – additionally, the roads will likely be pretty clear of snow and ice once you get into southern California. 

Route 66

2. Pacific Coast Highway

The Pacific Coast Highway runs down the Californian coast from San Francisco to San Diego. The road takes 10 hours to drive straight through, but taking your time and planning at least 3 days to traverse it will give you plenty of time to take in the scenery and explore any stops you want to make along the way. 

Pacific Coast Highway

3. Overseas Highway 

This is a great option for those looking for a shorter road trip, or those looking for a road trip somewhere with mild conditions in the winter. The overseas highway will take you through the Florida Keys, beginning in Key Largo and ending in Key West. It takes approximately four hours one way. 

Overseas Highway

4. Arches National Park Scenic Drive 

If you’re looking for a short but sweet road trip, consider the scenic drive at Arches National Park. This 36-mile drive showcases the stunning scenery of the National Park. A visit in the winter can be a great time to avoid crowds, however, you may want to check road conditions before you head out – especially if you’re planning on going off the main road at any point. 

Arches National Park

5. Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park 

The only road through Shenandoah, cruising Skyline Drive in the winter will transport you to a gorgeous winter wonderland. The downside to the amazing views is that sections of the road may close due to snowfall sometimes, so you may want to double-check current conditions before going! 


6. Phoenix, Arizona To Death Valley

Death Valley may be home to some of the hottest temperatures in the United States in the summer, but it hosts surprisingly pleasant weather in the winter! This is a great option for those looking for a weekend trip – it’ll take approximately 6 hours to drive from Phoenix to Death Valley – or those looking to add a fun detour to a larger trip! 

Death Valley

7. Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone

Here’s another great destination for those looking for a cold-weather road trip! While most of the roads in Yellowstone are closed to cars in the winter, the road to Mammoth Hot Springs is generally open year-round. A road trip to this section of the park can be a great experience! Because road conditions do vary based on the weather in the area, you’ll likely want to check for any recent closures or delays before heading out. 

Mammoth Hot Springs

8. Highway 101, Oregon Coast

If you’re looking for a winter road trip a little further north without too much snow, consider cruising the Oregon Coast! You can start in Portland and take Highway 101 down the coast. Beyond this, you have several options depending on your desired length of the trip. If you’re looking for a day trip or weekend trip, consider heading down to Coos Bay (4 hours away) or Brookings (6 hours away).  

Oregon Coast

9. Olympic Peninsula

If you’re looking for a taste of the Pacific Northwest, consider a driving tour of Olympic National Park and the surrounding areas! Consider starting in Olympia and making your way to the national park – approximately an hour away. Once there, check out some iconic spots such as the Hall of Mosses and the Kalaloch Tree of Life.  The park is pretty big, and can easily take a day or two to explore. If you're looking to further extend the road trip, head out to Forks, WA!

Olympic Penisula

10. Santa Barbara to Joshua Tree to San Diego

Enjoy all Southern California has to offer with this fun road trip! This is a great option for those looking for a bit of a longer trip. You’ll start in Santa Barbara – home to several gorgeous beaches – and head southeast towards Joshua Tree National Park. Spend some time enjoying the park, then continue south to San Diego, California. All in all, the route is about 8 hours of driving. However, all three main stops warrant at least a day, if not two of exploring, and this trip could easily take up 4-6 days. 

Joshua Tree

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