When my partner and I received Lonely Planet’s new book, “Epic Road Trips of the Americas” in the mail the other day, we spent an hour right away just flipping through it, reading bits of it, looking at the pictures, and talking about the many road trips in it that sounded fun and interesting. We found so many road trips to dream about! I feel that it would take a VERY intrepid and determined traveler to even get close to driving all of these road trips, but that dream is part of the fun.
Navigating the Content
Not only does the book cover the road trips of the United States, it also covers Canada and South America (hence the “Americas” in the title). North America is the largest portion of the book, covering 35 chapters. Rather than being organized by region, which might be intuitive, the Contents section is organized alphabetically. At first, I thought this was one of the only flaws that came to mind in this book, but then I realized that not having the contents organized by region made the reader have to do a little more searching, perusing, and discovering. Ultimately, in a book about road trips, is a good thing! Just to give you a hint of what I mean, the first entry is about a drive from Vail to Aspen, Colorado. This particular drive is not organized by A for Aspen, C for Colorado, V for Vail, or W for Western region. It is organized by A for the title of the chapter “Across the Great Divide: Vail to Aspen (CO)”. A minor concern.
Here’s an example of the layout:
Start // Death Valley Junction
Finish // Big Pine
Distance // 160 to 280 miles (357 to 451km), depending on the route.
Best time to drive // Winter and spring are ideal for exploring Death Valley: avoid the heat of midsummer if you can. Where to stay // The gateway towns of Furnace Creek or Stovepipe Wells have a range of accommodation.
Hot tips // The main roads in Death Valley are paved, but to explore backcountry areas you’ll require a 4WD with high clearance. Pack extra gas, check your spare tire and carry supplies just in case. The National Park Service advises that you drink at least 1 gallon (4 liters) of water per person per day in summer.
More info // www.nps.gov/deva
Road Trip Research
What was more enjoyable was looking at some of the road trips we had taken, like the west coast of Maui, which is mentioned as being similar to the wildlife viewing trip of driving through Chile. We have loved the many trips we have taken on Highway 101 between San Francisco and Seattle mentioned in the “Land of Giants: The Pacific Northwest” trip. We wondered why we had never taken a road trip to Route 66 (“Just For Kicks: Route 66”) and decided then and there that we were going to take that drive someday.
I felt like the entries were very well written, even if they lacked a little detail. For instance, the aforementioned Pacific Northwest drive mentions specifically Seattle and the town of Forks and Ilwaco in Washington. It skips over every Oregon coastal town until Port Orford, which is on the southern Oregon coast, then goes off into California. But if they had added details about every beautiful spot to stop, the book would be too heavy to pick up.
Each chapter opens with a big picture overview about the drive and a small map of the region. There’s a full-page photo, then some detail photos to set the scene. The photos do have captions, so you aren’t left wondering just what is shown, which is nice. It has basic driving directions. For the Seattle to San Francisco it says Start: Seattle and Finish: San Francisco, but it also includes details such as winter driving being a little dreary (it is, thanks to rain and fog). You have the advantage of winter being whale-watching season, and it also mentions summer being busier with tourists (which is also definitely true). It suggests a restaurant to eat at in Astoria, Oregon, The Bowpicker, a trawler turned fish and chips spot that is near the Columbia River Maritime Museum and is certainly worth a stop at.
There’s also a “hot tip” to stop at San Frans’s It’s Tops for a “neon-and-jukebox experience.” After that is a page of “More Like This” trips. The page offers shorter write-ups on three trips that are similar in some way, like British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, the Windward Coast of Oahu, and Cape Ann in Massachusetts.
Order Your Own Copy
The trips appeal to a variety of travelers, from romantic couples drives to family journeys that everyone will remember. The write-ups are written from the expertise of someone who has actually taken the drive. It helps you know the challenge level of the drive, along with recommended detours and when the best time to make the drive is. Overall, if you are looking for any sort of road trip inspiration and you aren’t the type to spend hours poring over entries on websites, this book is for you. It is fun to flip through, fun to get inspired by, and each destination leads you to another, so you’ll never run out of ideas.
The book was published in September 2022 by Lonely Planet, and is 320 pages with a hardback cover. It retails for $33.51 on Amazon and would make a great gift for you and the road trip enthusiast in your life!
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