These beautiful United States.
This week it’s Ann-Christine’s turn to challenge us, and she has given us unusual leeway in the topic “You Pick It!” That’s a pretty broad topic stated simply, “So, this week it’s all up to you – choose your subject and share whatever it is about it that you find interesting.” You can read her entire challenge post here.
My opening image introduces my topic, “The Road Less Traveled” with apologies to M. Scott Peck and Robert Frost. The photo features a highway known as the North Cascades Scenic Byway in Washington state. I can thank Scillagrace for giving me the idea for this post from her challenge post here. Her post features our treasure trove of national parks. From there, I drew the idea to feature national and state scenic byways that I have traveled over the years.
From the magnificent to the mundane, scenic byways are often, but not always, the slower alternative to “getting there” instead of the faster Interstate and state highway systems. In many cases, like the North Cascades Scenic Byway, if you are going to North Cascades National Park, you will likely travel that road. However, if you are traveling from Bismarck to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, you might choose to take I-94. But if you do, you’ll miss eclectic towns and abandoned buildings like this home near Sims, North Dakota (population 282). You’ll bypass Small-Town U.S.A, and you’ll truly miss the heart of America. The Old Red Old Ten Scenic Byway travels the old U.S. Highway 10 parallel to its replacement Interstate 94. Old Red Old Ten is truly the road less traveled.
If you travel through Oregon, you can take the Journey Through Time Scenic Byway. On that byway, you will see some beautiful natural wonders like Sheep Rock in the image above. You’ll also travel on the John Day Highway, you will be adjacent to the John Day River, drive through the town of John Day (population 2,224), visit the John Day Fossil Beds, and you can even stay in the John Day Motel. Had we not traveled this byway, I’d have probably lived my whole life not knowing there was a person so revered by Oregonians as John Day. You can find out more about him here.
Travel the Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway and you’ll see many of those beautiful waterfalls along Columbia Gorge. But don’t skip the second section of the byway. Once you leave the byway to get back on I-84, you might be tempted to stay on the superhighway. Resist that temptation and get back onto U.S. Highway 30 at Mosier to continue along the byway. At Rowena Crest, you’ll see this view of the highway below as it winds its way east through northern Oregon. Oh, and there’s a great view of that magnificent river from here as well.
Wind River Country in Wyoming via U.S. Highway 26 is a beautiful route to travel between Grand Teton National Park and Devils Tower, both very popular destinations connected by this stunning scenic drive.
Coeur D’alene Scenic Byway hugs the eastern shore of Lake Coeur D’alene. State Highway 97 from the junction of I-90 and Idaho 97 is a 35-mile (56 km) drive that ends at Idaho Highway 3 near the city of Harrison, Idaho. It is a narrow, winding road that you will likely see from both directions as you head back north to rejoin I-90 after you explore Harrison and maybe break for lunch or a snack. The views of the lake from the many pull-offs are often blocked by the tall trees, but that’s where the advantage of a drone can be helpful. From this viewpoint on the ground, there wasn’t much to see but trees. Launching above the trees, I was able to view much of Lake Coeur D’Alene.
You’d think from my selection of images so far that there are no scenic byways on the eastern side of the United States. I admit I need to spend more time in the eastern U.S., but I have traveled an eastern scenic byway or two. The Bodie Island Lighthouse is but one of the many stops along the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway, This 142-mile (228 km) drive is a recent creation designated in 2009. I admit to only traveling sections of this highway but I plan a full tour of the route on my next trip to North Carolina.
I conclude this rather long challenge-response with a view of the sunset at a pull-off on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic byway that connects Shenandoah National Park, near Waynesboro, Virginia with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, near Cherokee, North Carolina. The route is 469 miles (755 km), and again, I admit to seeing but a small part of this beautiful scenic drive.
Thanks again to Ann-Christine, and especially to Scillagrace for allowing me to share some of the roads less traveled (and some well-traveled) that I have had the pleasure to experience on my journeys. As always, I encourage you to click on an image to enlarge it for a better view.