5 Great Winter Road Trips

Head for snow or escape it with one of these great excursions.

Person on winter road tripGetty Images


Summer gets most of the credit for road trips, but there's plenty of beauty to behold in the colder months — with help from a set of winter tires should you need them. These drives start near a major airport, so you can show up and rent a car, if needed. For those trying to escape snow, gray skies, and the cold, there are some warm-weather options included as well to help you start planning that vacation.

Skiers by Lake TahoeShutterstock

Mountain Driving: Lake Tahoe, California/Nevada

Starting from Reno, drive south toward this large lake on your choice of highways. Lake Tahoe is ringed by U.S. Route 50 and Nevada state Route 28 on the east and California state Routes 89 and 28 to the west. Take in the scenery on your way to one of about a dozen ski areas, or seek out some cross-country tracks with views of the deep, clear blue (and cold) water.

This land was originally the domain of the Washoe people, and locals today are protective of its natural beauty. Pick up a "Keep Tahoe Blue" bumper sticker as a sign of solidarity.

Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, UtahJeep

High Desert: Arches National Park, Utah

Winters are relatively mild in Arches National Park, just outside Moab, Utah. A 36-mile scenic route winds through the park, past its natural sandstone formations. If it does snow, the white stuff isn't likely to stick around long.

Nearby Moab is a haven for off-roaders and is host to the annual Easter Jeep Safari that marks the beginning of spring. The city has its own little airport. Alternatively, you can fly into Grand Junction, Colorado, (about a two-hour drive from Arches) or Salt Lake City, which is about four hours away. There's plenty of beauty to see on those approaches as well.

Fort Lauderdale beach on Florida A1AShutterstock

The Beach: Florida A1A

Explore as much or as little of Florida's eastern flank as you like via state Route A1A, which stretches from just below the Georgia border to Miami Beach before picking up again at the state's southernmost tip in Key West.

With no shortage of Atlantic beaches, A1A can make for a great break from the Disney/Universal scene. The road is mostly straight, but what the route lacks in driver appeal, it makes up for in picturesque views. Airport options are plentiful, as A1A runs near or through Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami.

Mesa Falls along Mesa Falls Scenic Byway in IdahoShutterstock

History: U.S. 12, Northwest Passage Scenic Byway, Idaho

Idaho's section of U.S. Route 12, known as the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway, stretches from Lolo Pass on the Montana border to Lewiston, Washington. The road follows the path of Lewis and Clark pretty closely.

Traveling by car, you can find no shortage of hotels along the route. While traversing the state, you'll see varied terrain, from river crossings to rock formations and the Bitterroot Mountains. Airport access is via Spokane to the west and Missoula to the east. Or you could always retrace the entire Lewis and Clark expedition from Missouri to the Pacific Ocean.

Scenic highway in AlaskaShutterstock

Wilderness: Seward Highway, Alaska

Offering some of the best pavement-based views in Alaska, this 125-mile road connects Seward in the south with Anchorage in the north via Alaska state Route9 to Route 1. Leaving from Seward, you'll move along Bear Creek for a stretch, then on through the Chugach National Forest with its mountain passes — Turnagain Pass is as self-explanatory as they come — and spruce forests. At the Anchorage terminus, you can find a convenient airport.

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David Gluckman
David Gluckman has over a decade of experience as a writer and editor for print and digital automotive publications. He can parallel park a school bus, has a spreadsheet listing every vehicle he’s ever tested, and once drove a Lincoln Town Car 63 mph in reverse. When David’s not searching for the perfect used car, you can find him sampling the latest gimmicky foodstuffs that America has to offer.