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American Southwest Road Trip

The American Southwest road trip explores the surreal landscapes of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. You’ll visit each national park in all three states to uncover rocky canyons, rugged mountains, sweeping dunes, and more!

Where to Go

Big Bend National Park

Your road trip starts at Big Bend National Park. Situated on the border of West Texas and Mexico, Big Bend National Park is where the Chihuahuan Desert meets the Chisos Mountains. The Rio Grande cuts sharp canyons through rugged limestone, and steep cliffs peer over the vast desert grasslands. Soaring rock walls engulf its rivers and streams for adventurous rafting trips. Hikers have over 150 miles of trails that either follow the waterways or climb the highest peaks of the Chisos Mountains. At 7,832-ft, the trek to Emory Peak gives you a heart-racing panoramic view of the wild terrain. Your journey from the Rio Grande to the mountaintops reveals one of the country’s most diverse ecosystems. Discover dozens of cacti species, hundreds of bird species, thousands of insect species, and one of America’s best places to find bats.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park

The next stop along your road trip, the Guadalupe Mountains are a hiker’s paradise featuring the highest peaks of Texas and thrilling backcountry trips. From brisk strolls through beautiful desert grasslands to challenging treks along immense canyons, there are trails for every skill level. The 2.3-mile Smith Spring Loop is a fantastic warm-up that climbs from desert lowlands to verdant woodlands. Seasoned hikers can summit the roof of Texas by venturing through coniferous forests to reach Guadalupe Peak. With 10 campsites scattered around the park, serious backpackers can find solace after a challenging day’s hiking along scenic ridge lines. McKittrick Canyon enchants visitors with its colorful fall foliage that deeply contrasts with the harsh desert. Tackle the nearby Permian Reef Geology Trail to discover hundreds of prehistoric fossil species.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Your road trip continues at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Stay in the Chihuahuan Desert a little longer to plunge into the hundreds of caves beneath the arid landscape. Just past the Texas-New Mexico border, the Carlsbad Caverns stands out for its mesmerizing stalactites clinging to cave roofs. There are over 100 caves and the trail at Carlsbad Cavern provides entry into the immense cave network. The Big Room Trail is the network’s greatest spectacle that astonishes visitors with calcite formations of all sizes. At nearly 4,000 ft long and 255 ft high, the limestone chamber is the largest cave in America. Above ground, spend time wandering the desert to gaze at rocky canyons, desert scrub, and diverse wildlife.

Grand Canyon National Park

Your next stop is the magnificent Grand Canyon, one of the world’s geological masterpieces that has inspired visitors for generations. Standing at the South Rim gives you breathtaking vistas of the mile-deep and 18-mile wide canyon. The colorful red rock canyons and sandstone cliffs reveal eons of erosion that have shaped the landscape. Some of the miraculous viewpoints include Mather Point and Shoshone Point. Grand Canyon Village is the ideal starting point for your adventure if you choose to venture into the canyon. Bright Angel Trail takes you from the South Rim to the mighty Colorado River, and Rim Trail accommodates most hikers. You’ll need a prior reservation, but visiting the Havasupai Indian Reservation gives you access to the canyon’s plunging waterfalls and turquoise pools.

Petrified Forest National Park

Moving on to Petrified Forest National Park, this remote section of the Arizona desert provides the best opportunity to find colorful pieces of petrified wood. Wander the Black Forest to find enormous chunks of wood upwards of 50 feet in length. The logs split apart long ago, and areas such as Onyx Bridge have formed natural bridges along backcountry trails. Other treks reveal multi-colored hues of Badlands that show the effects of erosion over millions of years. The Painted Desert Rim Trail gives you remarkable views of the ancient fossils and desert wildlife. Native Americans established settlements here thousands of years ago, and the park maintains ruins of pueblos and petroglyphs.

Saguaro National Park

Continue driving just outside of Tucson to reach Saguaro National Park, which preserves one of the timeless symbols of the American West. Saguaro cacti grow upwards of 40 ft tall in the Sonoran Desert, and nowhere else in America produces dense forests of the desert plants like this. Located west of Tucson, the Tucson Mountain District lies at a lower elevation but has a higher density of cacti. The eastern Rincon Mountains boast hills soaring to heights over 8,000 ft and offer more hiking expeditions. Cacti within the Rincon Mountain District are similar in size compared to the Tucson Mountain District and are more sparsely populated with greater biodiversity in the region. Whichever district you prefer, don’t leave without experiencing a dreamy desert sunset with cacti dotting the landscape. 

White Sands National Park

The final stop along your journey is White Sands National Park. The sparkling white dunes of New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin received the upgrade from national monument to national park in 2019. Encompassing 275 square miles, the wavy dunes create the world’s largest gypsum dune field. The region is home to hardened plants and animals who’ve adapted to the unforgiving landscape. Hiking trails crisscross the sea of sand and let you feel the isolation of wandering the desert. The Interdune Boardwalk is an ideal place for novice hikers to gaze at the white, sandy hills and colorful skies along the horizon. Search for signs of wildlife on the Dune Life Nature Trail and look for gypsum deposits in Lake Lucero. White Sands National Park finds itself surrounded by military bases, and the park faces routine closures due to missile tests.

When to Go

Summer in the American Southwest is brutally hot and temperatures soar well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Lots of safety precautions are required to protect yourself, but the intense heat is too much for many visitors. Despite the high temperatures, crowds at the Grand Canyon are busiest during the summer. Winters are frigid in the desert regions, and it’s possible to encounter snow or adverse driving conditions. The spring and fall shoulder seasons provide the ideal combination of fewer crowds and comfortable temperatures. You’ll find blooming wildflowers during spring, and some areas boast colorful foliage in the fall.

Montana and Wyoming Road Trip

Home to some of the country’s most scenic landscapes, Montana and Wyoming have so much to offer. The Montana and Wyoming Road Trip lets you explore three of America’s most beloved national parks and several other prominent sites in these sparsely populated states.

Where to Go

Jackson

Start your road trip in Jackson, which serves as a gateway to Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and three ski resorts. Located in the Jackson Hole Valley, snow-capped peaks line this resort town to give visitors spectacular views of the Teton mountain range. The Snake River cuts through the valley and draws rafters, paddlers, kayakers, and anglers. These pristine waters are home to lots of native species, and you’ll often find elk, bison, bald eagles, and other creatures beside the river. Snowy winters host skiers and snowboarders on the slopes of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King Mountain, and Grand Targhee.

Grand Teton National Park

The next stop on your road trip will be Grand Teton National Park. The craggy peaks of the Teton Range take the spotlight inside this nature lover’s paradise. Below the snow-capped mountains lie more than 300,000 acres of glacial lakes, peaceful rivers, alpine meadows, and diverse wildlife. Driving around Grand Teton is a photographer’s dream with picturesque sights like the Moulton Barn and Oxbow Bend. When you’re not clutching your camera, more than 200 miles of hiking trails lead you into the rugged wilderness. The wild waters of the Snake River have some of the country’s best rafting and fly fishing. Those wishing to relax can lounge beneath the mountains and dip their feet in the many crystal-clear lakes dotting the park. Jackson Lake and Jenny Lake garner much of the fame but don’t count out others such as String Lake and Leigh Lake.

Yellowstone National Park

Continue on to Yellowstone National Park. As America’s first national park, Yellowstone remains a cherished piece of natural beauty that has inspired pioneers and artists for over 100 years. Although mostly in Wyoming, parts of the park stretch into Montana and Idaho. Yellowstone stands out for its geothermal wonders such as the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring and the iconic Old Faithful geyser. Upper Geyser Basin contains more geysers than anywhere on the planet and boardwalks meander around the steaming vents. The wildlife watching is incredible and sightings of bison, grizzly bears, elk, bighorn sheep, and moose are common. Lamar Valley, Hayden Valley, and Mammoth Hot Springs are among the most reliable spots to witness animal gatherings. The park’s 900+ miles of hiking trails lead trekkers to breathtaking sights such as Yellowstone Lake and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

Flathead National Forest

The next stop on your road trip lies just south of Glacier National Park. Flathead National Forest offers more than 2.4 million acres of untamed wilderness. The crowds seem to fade along the 2,600 miles of hiking trails engulfed by snowy mountaintops and pristine forests. Scenic lakes and rivers boast some of Montana’s best fishing holes and floating adventures. The 3-Forks of the Flathead River host lots of recreational activities such as whitewater rafting, boating trips, and camping. Swimmers can take a refreshing dip in the nearby Flathead Lake, one of America’s largest freshwater lakes.

Glacier National Park

As you continue on, you’ll hit Glacier National Park, which earns the title “Crown of the Continent” for its dramatic mountain peaks and diverse ecosystem. More than 700 miles of hiking trails and 130 known lakes lead to untamed discoveries inside the Montana wilderness. The Going-to-the-Sun Road courses through the park and takes drivers to many scenic viewpoints. Have your camera ready for jaw-dropping images of Lake McDonald, Logan Pass, and Oberlin Bend. The vigorous Highline Trail and Hidden Lake Trail each start near the Logan Pass Visitor Center. Other popular trails include Grinnell Glacier, Iceberg Lake, Siyeh Pass, and Avalanche Lake. Unlace your hiking boots and enjoy a scenic boat ride along the pristine waters of St. Mary Lake or Two Medicine Lake. Glacier Country boasts one of America’s wildest ecosystems and visitors can expect to find bison, elk, grizzly bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, wolves, and hundreds of bird species.

Helena-Lewis & Clark National Forest

Next, you’ll come to Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. Walk in the footsteps of Lewis & Clark and imagine discovering the raw beauty of Montana for the first time. Their famous expedition team traversed these dense coniferous forests, rugged mountains, and wild waterways when searching for a passage to the Pacific Ocean. The rolling prairies meet the Rocky Mountains, and a total of seven mountain ranges engulf the landscape. Its incredible diversity includes snow-lined peaks, arid plains, cascading waterfalls, and fertile valleys. Watching the flat plains give way to each group of isolated mountains is a dramatic sight.

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

Your road trip continues at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. The memorials across the sweeping prairies near the Little Bighorn River reflect on the battle between the US Army and Northern Plains Native American Tribes. In 1876, tensions ran high between encroaching American settlers and the aligned Lakota Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes. The heated conflict resulted in more than 250 deaths from the US Army’s 7th Calvary that was led by Lt. Col. George A. Custer. Walking around the battlefield offers an opportunity for reflection on the fallen victims of both sides.

Shoshone National Forest

Finally, your road trip will conclude at Shoshone National Forest, which is renowned as America’s first national forest. Established in 1891, its 2.4 million acres continue to astonish visitors with its snow-lined peaks, verdant forests, and pristine meadows. The dense forest remains a goldmine for outdoor recreation at all times of the year. With over 32 campgrounds and four scenic byways coursing through the landscape, you could spend years discovering its splendor. Its untamed wilderness contains well over 1,000 miles of hiking trails and incredible wildlife sightings. From fishing and ATV riding to horseback riding, Shoshone resonates with all types of nature lovers.

When to Go

Due to seasonal road closures in many parts of Montana and Wyoming, the summer presents the ideal weather for your trip. The Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park is often open from June-September. Although conditions vary by year, it’s best to arrive in summer to drive the entire route. You’ll find more facilities and outdoor activities accessible in Yellowstone and Grand Teton as well. The crowds can be brutal during the summer, but the weather and driving conditions then give you the best opportunity to drive the entire itinerary.

Maui Road Trip

The Maui road trip circles this beautiful Hawaiian island and showcases its incredibly diverse natural scenery. You’ll visit Haleakalā National Park, stunning coastlines, and learn about Hawaiian culture during your trip.

Where to Go

Kahului

Your road trip will likely begin in Kahului since this is where Maui’s primary airport and most car rental facilities are located. Stock up on all the supplies you need at the stores in town or take a chance and embrace the local vibe. Watch cruise ships dock at the Kahului Harbor, shop for local produce and handicrafts at the Maui Swap Meet or wander through the Maui Nui Botanical Gardens. As Maui’s busiest shopping district, Kahului is the place to best prepare for your journey around the island.

Road to Hana

Your road trip continues on the Road to Hana. Stretching just over 64 miles, the Road to Hana showcases some of Maui’s most breathtaking natural wonders. Steeped in legendary tales, the northeastern section of the island has inspired adventurers for centuries. The scenic drive starts just past Kahului and hugs the coastline to give you uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean. Take your time on the twisting highway by chasing waterfalls, hiking to lush gardens, and lounging on beaches of many colors. You’ll cross dozens of bridges that venture into the depths of Maui’s tropical rainforest. Must-see stops include the Garden of Eden Arboretum, Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hana Town, and Wailua Falls.

Haleakalā National Park

Many Maui visitors turn around after completing the Road to Hana, but that would be doing a disservice to this sacred landscape. Continue your trip at Haleakalā National Park. The conjunction of volcanic craters and tropical rainforest here creates an otherworldly adventure for hardy travelers. Give yourself enough time to explore the contrasting features of the coastal Kīpahulu District and the summit of Haleakalā. Kīpahulu treats you to authentic Hawaiian culture, lush vegetation, rocky coastlines, and tumbling cascades. At over 10,000 ft elevation, the Haleakalā summit feels like walking on Mars with its cinder cones, piercing red deserts, and rocky cliffs. Clouds often linger against the horizon and watching the sunrise from the crater is one of Earth’s magical spectacles. To witness the show, you’ll need a sunrise reservation before your visit.

Maui Ocean Center

The next stop on your road trip is the Maui Ocean Center. Anyone interested in marine life will feel right at home here! The facility caters to Hawaiian marine life and frequently earns honors as one of America’s top aquariums. It features exhibits on underwater creatures such as sharks, stingrays, humpback whales, and turtles.  The Pacific coral displays are among the largest on the planet, and the staff works diligently to make artificial coral reefs to sustain the fragile ecosystem.

Kaanapali Beach

Continue along your way to Kaanapali Beach. Sink your toes in the sand and live the good life in this strip of paradise that contains lavish beach resorts. The three-mile stretch of white sands and turquoise waters has earned global praise for its natural beauty. World-class golf courses, condominium villages, and upscale shops add to its glamorous appeal. Don’t leave without witnessing the daily sunset ceremony at Black Rock that concludes with a thrilling cliff dive. From whale sightings to unbelievable snorkeling, it’s easy to figure why Kaanapali earned honors as “America’s Best Beach.”

West Maui Mountains

From Kaanapali Beach, head to the West Maui Mountains. The untamed landscapes of West Maui create some of the most dangerous drives anywhere on the island. In fact, some stretches are so risky that many rental companies don’t cover drivers who travel the route. The Hono-a-Piilani Highway wraps around the West Maui Forest Reserve and presents dramatic ocean vistas. Marvel at verdant forests, rocky peaks, sheer cliffs, fertile valleys, and unspoiled beaches around every turn.

When to Go

The summer and winter both receive large numbers of tourists, and rates are much higher. Arriving in the spring or fall can help you to avoid the crowds and still enjoy that fabulous Hawaii weather. The rainy season is around November-March, and dodging the winter provides better driving conditions. Scheduling your trip between April-June or September-November will likely result in the most enjoyable trip. While this itinerary is doable within a few days, don’t feel rushed when exploring this breathtaking island.

New England Road Trip

New England has so much to offer, from large cities to breathtaking landscapes. This New England Road Trip travels along the rugged coast of Maine, to Acadia National Park, and through the beautiful mountains and foliage of the Northeastern United States.

Portland (Maine)

Start your journey in Portland and soak up its incredible history as a major American port city. Wander the cobblestone streets and old warehouses of the Old Port before sailing to the Casco Bay Islands. The quaint towns just offshore enjoy a slower pace of life and treat visitors to cycling, kayaking, and museums. Back on the mainland, the Eastern Promenade stretches along the waterfront to nature trails and a sandy beach. The nearby Cape Elizabeth is home to beautiful lighthouses, and the West End neighborhood boasts stunning Victorian architecture.

Acadia National Park

Next up on your road trip is Acadia National Park. Mostly encompassed by Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park shelters the wildest sections of the North Atlantic coast. The rocky headlands overlook the fierce waves of the ocean and dense woodlands hug the shoreline. For hardy travelers, take a dip in the frigid waters along the shores of Sand Beach. After an exhilarating swim in the North Atlantic, tackle the Great Head Trail for a panoramic view of the beach. Park Loop Road navigates much of the park and gives you access to sparkling ponds and verdant forests. Cadillac Mountain gives you sweeping views above the ocean and makes for an enchanting place to watch the sunrise. Push yourself for more ocean vistas by taking the Precipice Trail or Gorham Mountain Trail.

Mount Katahdin

Continue your road trip at Mount Katahdin. Standing at 5,269 ft, Mount Katahdin is the tallest peak in Maine and a notable landmark for long-distance trekkers. Those embarking on the famous 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail start or end their expedition at this summit. Perhaps the panoramic views from the rocky peak will inspire you to accept the challenge of hiking down to Georgia. Some of Maine’s most rugged terrain engulfs the mountain, and you’ll find scenic waterways, lush forests, and inspirational stargazing there as well.

White Mountain National Forest

Your road trip continues at White Mountain National Forest. The untamed wilderness of eastern New Hampshire and western Maine boasts the tallest mountains in New England. Looming above the landscape is the snowy Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeastern United States. At 6,288 ft, Mount Washington sees more climbers than any other mountain in the region. Special precautions are required since the peak is notorious for its brutal wind shear. If you don’t feel like climbing, ride the historic Mount Washington Cog Railway to reach the summit. Other hikes within the forest lead you to crystal-clear lakes, steep gorges, tumbling waterfalls, and eerie caves. Several ski resorts operate within the White Mountains and have some of the highest drops in the region.

Green Mountain National Forest

From White Mountain National Forest, continue on to Green Mountain National Forest. The temperate forests of the Green Mountains are a year-round destination for outdoor recreation. Summer draws hikers, campers, anglers, and kayakers, while snowy winters bring in skiers and snowboarders. Head to the Stratton Mountain Resort for an exciting ski vacation or visit Sugarbush Resort, which caters to skiers of all skill levels. The arrival of spring mesmerizes visitors with beautiful wildflowers, gentle waterfalls, and vibrant wildlife. For an eye-popping display, road tripping through the Green Mountains during the fall reveals some of America’s most colorful foliage. Climb Equinox Mountain for thrilling panoramic views or tackle the Lye Brook Falls Trail to chill beside one of Vermont’s highest waterfalls.

Jacob’s Ladder Trail Scenic Byway

The final stretch of your journey meanders through the stunning foliage of the southern Berkshires. Situated in Western Massachusetts, the Berkshires is renowned for its enchanting forests, outdoor activities, thriving arts scene, and farmers markets. Driving along Jacob’s Ladder Trail lets you trace the footsteps of Native Americans and pioneers. Traverse verdant woodlands and charming towns on hiking trails for all levels. Stop by scenic rivers and streams for a relaxing day of swimming, fishing, or boating. Make pit stops to chase one of the near two dozen waterfalls scattered throughout the Berkshires. Before returning to the city, visit local farmers who produce organic produce, cheeses, meat, jams, baked goods, and much more.

When to Go

Warm, dry summers provide ideal weather conditions to visit Acadia National Park, but expect the park to be extremely crowded. Although the temperature drops, fall is incredible due to the leaves changing colors. If the New England foliage is the primary reason for your road trip, September and October are the perfect months for you. Just make sure to browse accommodation rates months in advance. Early October is typically the busiest time of year for foliage, and hotel rates tend to be higher.

Oregon Cascades to Coast Road Trip

With vast, gorgeous landscapes stretching throughout the state, the best way to explore all that Oregon has to offer is via road trip. The Oregon Cascades to Coast Road Trip courses through the snow-capped Cascade Mountains, several national forests, Crater Lake National Park, and the Oregon Dunes.

Bend

Your road trip will begin at Bend, which rests along the Deschutes River and serves as a gateway for lots of recreational activities. It’s the sixth largest city in Oregon with a population of around 105,000. Due to its convenient location near ski resorts, lush forests, rock climbing, scenic drives, hiking trails, and pristine lakes, Bend has become one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States. Bend also has one of the highest breweries per capita in the country.

Deschutes National Forest

Next, continue on to Deschutes National Forest, which sits along the Cascade Range and consists of over 1.6 million acres of alpine wilderness. Protected for more than a century, the forest contains year-round activities for outdoor enthusiasts and thrill-seekers. The views atop South Sister, Diamond Peak, and Mount Thielsen entice mountaineers, while cavers gravitate to the hundreds of spooky caves within the forest. Altogether, there are five distinct areas of wilderness inside Deschutes National Forest that each boast panoramic shots of the mighty Cascades, adventurous hiking trails, shimmering lakes, and dozens of campgrounds.

Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway

Your road trip will continue onto Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway. Stretching for 66 miles, the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway passes several crystal-clear lakes. Starting in Bend, the central Oregon route gives you sensational views of Mount Bachelor, Broken Top, and South Sister. The byway leads directly to Mount Bachelor Ski Resort, one of North America’s largest expanses of powdery slopes. Bend residents venture to the unspoiled lakes for summer getaways to lakeside resorts and peaceful days in the outdoors. Elk Lake sits beneath the slopes of Mount Bachelor, and its shores attract boaters, kayakers, paddlers, and anglers. Campers bask in the splendor of Lava Lake, and hikers can start the trek to Three Sisters. In total, the route gives you access to 14 alpine lakes for endless recreation in the Cascades.

Crater Lake National Park

After the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway, the next stop along your journey will be Crater Lake National Park. Roughly 7,700 years ago, Mount Mazama blew its top and transformed the surrounding landscape. The remnants of the volcanic blast reveal the striking images of Crater Lake and offer a glimpse into Mother Nature’s raw power. Rim Drive encircles the caldera and gives you dramatic images for 33 miles. The engineering feat offers multiple observation points to peer into the deep-blue waters filling the lake and the surrounding Cascade peaks. Several hiking trails hug the crater rim, and it’s possible to reach the shoreline to sail towards Wizard Island. The Rim Visitor Center features intriguing exhibits that delve into the geologic history that formed America’s deepest lake.

Umpqua National Forest

Next up on your road trip is the Umpqua National Forest. The violent eruption that formed Crater Lake created the diverse ecosystem residing in the adjacent Umpqua National Forest. Situated on the western side of the Cascades, Umpqua houses tumbling waterfalls and fascinating geologic wonders. The grandest of Umpqua’s many cascades is the 293-foot Watson Falls, the third-tallest waterfall in Oregon. Ringed by mesmerizing basalt columns, Toketee Falls plunges into a turquoise pool for a breathtaking portrait. The thundering waters of the Umpqua River create some of Oregon’s best whitewater rafting excursions, and the surrounding forest is home to hundreds of native species.

Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Continue on to the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, a unique 40-mile stretch of the Oregon coast known for its multitude of ecosystems. Wind-sculpted dunes tower above the Pacific Ocean, while a series of lakes and marshlands sit on the other side. Wildlife abounds in the area, and visitors will find animals such as birds of prey, snowy plovers, and black-tailed deer here. Three areas are open to off-road vehicles and ATVs, dune buggies, and other all-terrain vehicles to ride around the dunes. Other parts of the dunes reserve access for hikers and numerous day trails lead through the dunes and wind through coastal forests.

Eugene

As you continue on your road trip, you’ll come to Eugene, Oregon. One of Oregon’s major cultural hubs, Eugene presents a fantastic opportunity to delve into arts, history, and an eclectic dining scene. Eugene is home to the University of Oregon, and sports fans can witness some of the country’s greatest collegiate athletes. The Museum of Natural and Cultural History studies the archaeological evolution of the Pacific Northwest, and the Eugene Science Center offers interactive exhibits for children. Alton Baker Park and Skinner Butte Park are two beautiful green spaces to unwind in nature.

Willamette National Forest

Finally, your road trip will conclude at Willamette National Forest. Head back to the Cascades and lace up your hiking boots for this trekker’s paradise with more than 1,700 miles of trails. Douglas-firs dot the 1.6 million acres of pristine forest, and seven rugged mountains overlook the landscape. Mountaineers make the daring quest to summit the craggy peaks of Mount Jefferson and The Three Sisters. Adventurous backpackers tackle the 50-mile Three Sisters Loop for multi-day hiking trips. Detroit Lake draws kayakers and campers for sweeping views of the evergreen forest. Anglers flock to the sparkling waters of the North Santiam River to catch trout, steelhead, and chinook salmon.

When to Go

Due to seasonal road closures on Crater Lake’s Rim Drive and the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway, the summer is the appropriate season for this expedition. The Cascades receive a tremendous amount of snowfall, and it takes a long time to clear some of the roadways for drivers. Portions of this route won’t be accessible until June, and could be even later depending on the weather conditions. Summer is also the driest season in Oregon to give you more time to enjoy the great outdoors. Realistically, this route is doable within a week, but give yourself upwards of two weeks if you want to fully explore each destination.