Most people think of Interstate Highways as fast but a hassle. Their vision of them is influenced by scenes of snarled traffic in cities like Los Angeles. Ruth and I incorporate them into travel plans, and we always pull off of them for scenic views. We have learned over time that the fastest ways to destinations usually incorporate one or more Interstates. Four of the best are described below.
I-15 between Great Falls, MT and Helena, its capital, is quite beautiful. It provides access to state parks, wilderness areas and lakes while passing through the Big Belt Mountains. For many miles it follows the course of the very upper Missouri River.
Highways 1 and 101 between Los Angeles and San Francisco remains one of the best drives in America if you have lots of time and patience. We recommend taking I-10 to Santa Monica and Highway 1 north and west through Malibu and seeing many points and beaches; then following 101 at Oxnard to Santa Barbara. Stay on 101 all the way to San Luis Obispo, stopping at Solvang for a touristy experience. At San Luis Obispo you have to make a big decision. If you stay on mostly north 101 you can visit America’s best wine country at Paso Robles, see a mission or two, and visit Pinnacles National Park via its west entrance. If you follow Highway 1 west and north, you will pass through and potentially visit Morro Bay, San Simeon, see some glorious scenery, and end up in Monterey. This will take a lot of time. An alternative is to go to Paso Robles, stay a couple of days, and then backtrack 4 miles to scenic Highway 46, which will take you back to Highway 1 near Cambria. You’re a travel winner any way you go.
We love to drive I-70 between Grand Junction and Denver. You pass through Colorado wine country east of Grand Junction, follow the Colorado River and others for miles, experience canyons and mountains, can stop at Vail or Copper Mountain or Frisco or…., cross high passes like Vail on the Interstate and Loveland off the Interstate or go through an exciting tunnel that avoids Loveland.
The Everglades Parkway from Florida’s west coast at Naples to its east coast at Fort Lauderdale remains an unforgettable treat. It skirts Everglades National Park’s northern border, and taking 997 south to Homestead before you get to Sweetwater provides access to the rest of this exceptional National Park and avoids Miami traffic. Also from Homestead you can follow Florida’s own Highway 1 all the way to Key West and America’s most southerly point.
I’ll explain how I-70 across Kansas can be a travel delight tomorrow. No kidding!