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This content is sponsored by Before you leave, make sure you check health and safety regulations in any area you are traveling to, as well as the weather conditions. Mountain roads in particular are subject to closures due to snow. Prior to setting off on any road trip, make sure your car is ready for the journey. You could save 15 percent or more on car insurance by switching to GEICO. Going-to-the-sun road - Glacier National Park, Montana Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier National Park in Montana is almost 50 miles carved into the beautiful Rocky Mountains. It is the only road that traverses the park, providing access to Logan Pass at the Continental Divide. This alpine road is so winding it takes up to ten weeks for snow plows to clear them each year, so the best time to visit is later in the summer and early autumn. We recommend lodging on the Western edge of the park in Kalispell, where there is also an airport. Shenandoah National Park © Laura Brown / Budget Travel Skyline Drive - Shenandoah National Park - Virginia Skyline Drive is a 105-mile mountain road that runs the length of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, starting in Front Royal, about an hour west of Washington, DC. There are 75 overlooks, providing amazing views of the Shenandoah Valley and the Piedmont. It is especially beautiful in the summer and autumn. Drivers should plan to spend a full day doing Skyline Drive, and we highly recommend you make time to watch an evening sunset from a west-facing overlook. King's Canyon National Park © Laura Brown / Budget Travel King's Canyon Scenic Byway - California State Route 180 This state road has the benefit of going through two National Parks in short order. The first is the General Grant Grove of Giant Sequoias in Sequoia National Park. The road continues for another 50-miles through the Western Sierra to King’s Canyon National Park, an underrated gem in the National Park system. The nearest major city to King’s Canyon is Fresno, California. Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park © Rob Hainer / Shutterstock Cades Cove Loop, Great Smoky Mountain National Park The 11-mile Cades Cove Loop is deep into Great Smoky Mountain National Park and it makes for a perfect leisure drive. Spend 2-3 hours exploring an early 1800s European settlement and appreciate the fresh air and beauty of the mountains. Make sure you plan a picnic and stop at Cable Mill, which also has restrooms. For accommodations, we recommend nearby Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The nearest airport is in Knoxville, Tennessee. The Overseas Highway © Laura Brown / Budget Travel The Overseas Highway: Miami to Key West The 110-mile Overseas Highway drives, well, overseas – connecting Miami to Key West through all the Keys. Drivers will feel the salt air and sunshine on their face and find plenty of charming nooks to explore along the way. There are beaches with public parking and unique local art gardens. At the end, arrive in beautiful Key West. North Cascades National Park © Checubus / Shutterstock North Cascades Scenic Byway, Washington The North Cascades Scenic Byway in Northern Washington is the most mountainous and hair-raising road traversing that park. You will see turquoise blue glacier water and sprawling mountain peaks. Make sure to stop for a photo at the Washington Pass Overlook. Eat, explore and stay at one of the 1920s towns along the way, and spend some time in the outdoorsy Methow Valley. Like most mountain passes, this is closed in the winter due to snow. North Cascades is relatively far away from society, the nearest airport is Seattle. Beartooth Highway © Laura Brown / Budget Travel Beartooth Highway - Southwest Montana This 68-mile mountain pass crosses from the town of Red Lodge, through Southwest Montana, and into the Northern entrance to Yellowstone National Park. It crosses through the beautiful Beartooth Mountains, one of the most remote regions of the United States, and one of the most ecologically diverse. The Beartooth Highway offers some incredible vistas as it climbs up the mountains. The nearest major airport is in Billings, Montana. Monument Valley © francesco ricca iacomino / Getty Images US Rt 163 - Monument Valley, Utah US Rt 163 is the 64-mile highway running from Arizona through the Navajo Nation in Southern Utah, showing off the dramatic and beautiful landscapes of Utah in Monument Valley. The red rocks and cliffs are one of the most iconic scenes in America, and the wide-open space makes the drive feel uncrowded. Plan at least two hours to make this drive and take time to stop for photography. Sunsets are particularly spectacular. The nearest major airport to Monument Valley is in Flagstaff, Arizona. The coastline surrounding Acadia National Park © Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock Park Loop Road - Acadia National Park, Maine The 27-mile Park Loop Road is the primary road around Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park. It offers scenic ocean vistas where the rocks hit the water, and the forest changes colors with the seasons. Make sure to plan extra time to stop for hiking and photography. For inexpensive accommodations, we recommend staying in nearby Bangor, Maine. Rocky Mountain National Park © Ronda Kimbrow Photography / Getty Images Trail Ridge Road - Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado The Trail Ridge Road is a 48-mile long mountain route, nicknamed the ‘Highway to the Sky.’ The highway starts in Estes Park in the East and goes to Grand Lake in the West. It climbs up more than 4,000 feet to above the tree line in Rocky Mountain National Park. Considered the highest elevation paved road in Colorado, it features plenty of hairpin turns. Plan at least half a day to fully appreciate this trip. The nearest major airport is in Denver. SPONSORED BY Carefully crafted collaboratively between Budget Travel, GEICO, and Lonely Planet. All parties provided research and curated content to produce this story. We disclose when information isn’t ours.Sponsored by GEICO
The 12 best day trips in the US Southwest
Rugged. Beautiful. And fun. The Southwest is the ultimate playground, luring adventurers with red-rock canyons, Wild West legends and the kicky delights of green chile stew. Day trips in this region conjure up visions of vast desert landscapes, rodeos, and lake adventures. Editor's note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice. Best day trips from Austin FredericksburgWith a wealth of events, wineries and in-town attractions, it’s often hard to decide how to best spend a day in Fredericksburg. It was settled by some of Texas’ first German immigrant families, and the European frontier ethos shines through in the architecture and history of the town itself. Further afield, vineyard tours are a hit with groups on weekend trips from Austin. 1hr 30min by car. Fall foliage on the river at Guadalupe State Park ©Richard A McMillin/ShutterstockGuadalupe RiverThere’s no better respite from the Central Texas summer than jumping in the water, and few places could beat the Guadalupe River; specifically, drifting down its course on an inner tube. Head to Guadalupe River State Park for a family friendly float (plus campsites and hiking), or look for local private operators that offer a more party-focused experience on the river. 1hr 30min by car. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, FredericksburgThe 425ft high pink granite dome of Enchanted Rock towers over the surrounding Central Texas hills. The popular Summit Hike tracks past vernal pools and rock fissures to panoramic views from the top. Queues form at the State Park gate as early as 8am on busy weekends, but campers with confirmed reservations cruise straight on through and into the park. 1hr 40min by car. Best day trips from Dallas The daily Texas longhorn cattledrive through the Stockyard streets ©typhoonski/Getty ImagesFort WorthFamous as being "Where the West Begins," Fort Worth still has the cowboy feel. It first rose to prominence during the great open-range cattle drives of the late 19th century. These days, the legendary Stockyards are the prime visitor destination, hosting twice-daily mini-cattle drives and rodeos every weekend. Downtown is bursting with restaurants and bars, while the Cultural District boasts three amazing art museums. 40min by car. Waco, TexasIn this college town, Magnolia Market at the Silos draws more visitors than the Alamo. Once you’ve shopped, played and eaten at ‘Fixer-Upper’ duo Chip and Joanna Gaines’ biggest renovation project, stroll Baylor’s 1000-acre campus or stand-up paddle straight through town on the Brazos River. 1hr 30min by car. Caddo Lake State ParkCaddo Lake State Park is a good place to start your lake adventure. Take an interpretive hike through the cypress forest on the lake’s western edge. Or, in summer, rent a canoe. The park has some great little cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and the riverside tent sites are pretty sweet. 2hr 30min by car. Best day trips from Phoenix Saguaro National ParkSaguaros are icons of the American Southwest, and an entire cactus army of these majestic, ribbed sentinels is protected in this desert playground. Saguaro National Park is divided into east and west units, separated by 30 miles and Tucson itself. Both sections – the Rincon Mountain District in the east and Tucson Mountain District in the west – are filled with trails and desert flora; if you only visit one, make it the spectacular western half. 1hr 40min by car. Watch the desert sunset in Sedona ©aaronj9/ShutterstockSedonaNestled amid striking red sandstone formations, Sedona's truly spectacular landscape has long attracted spiritual seekers, artists and healers. Outdoorsy adventurers have begun to see the light as well: there are some inimitable thrills to be had hiking, mountain biking and climbing amid these desert spires. Red Rock State Park has 5 miles of well-marked, interconnecting trails in gorgeous red-rock country. 2hr by car. Historic train station in Flagstaff at sunset ©Nick Fox/ShutterstockFlagstaffThe laid-back charms of Flagstaff, the home of Northern Arizona University, are many; from a pedestrian-friendly historic downtown, bedecked with vintage neon, to hiking and skiing in the country’s largest ponderosa pine forest. 2hr 30min by car. Best day trips from Las Vegas Desert landscape at sunset at the Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area ©Dean Pennalad/500pxRed Rock CanyonRed Rock's dramatic vistas are revered by Las Vegas locals and adored by visitors from around the world. Formed by extreme tectonic forces, it's thought the canyon, whose 3000ft red rock escarpment rises sharply from the valley floor, was formed around 65 million years ago. A 13-mile, one-way scenic loop drive offers mesmerizing vistas of the canyon's most striking features. Hiking trails and rock-climbing routes radiate from roadside parking areas. 30min by car. Valley of Fire State ParkA masterpiece of Southwest desert scenery, the Valley of Fire State Park contains 40,000 acres of red Aztec sandstone, petrified trees and ancient Native American petroglyphs (at Atlatl Rock). Dedicated in 1935, this was Nevada's first designated state park. Its psychedelic landscape has been carved by wind and water over thousands of years. 50min by car. Lost City MuseumWander away from the big city to unearth some of the best art, culture and history on the continent in the most unexpected places. At the Lost City Museum, learn about the lives of the Ancestral Puebloans through reconstructed homes and the artifacts that were saved as this desert land developed. 1hr by car.
10 socially distanced adventures near Denver
Currently, Colorado is at a Stage 2 in opening procedures, what the state is calling "." Although this summer is looking to be on the more lowkey side, there still are things to do in Colorado especially for those who love the outdoors. If the pandemic has you stir crazy for some adventure, here are some social-distance friendly activities to do around the Denver area. Remember to check the Colorado Department of Health before you embark on any adventures to make sure you are doing so safely. Explore a Modern Day Castle Dragons and knights may be a part of the past, but in 2020 modern castles are still in existence. Built solely by one man, Jim Bishop, Bishop’s castle is an incredible creation that is not to be missed. With multiple floors, a climbable tower, great hall, maze of a basement and a sky bridge, this wonder is the incredible combination of fantasy and reality. Furthermore, the entire experience is completely free to the public although donations can be made to the architect.Photo by ©Kit Leong/ShutterstockPursue the outdoor art gallery Many of Denver’s museums are closed due to the pandemic, however, that does not mean art lovers must suffer. The River North Art (RiNo) District has plenty of street art to browse whilst staying safe. From dumpsters to walls and fences, some streets are completely covered in art. The district boasts of many famous artists like Shepard Fairey who is best known for his OBEY work and Barack Obama HOPE poster, as well as local artists like Meeg Conroy. Sip buna in Colorado? Even if your international trip was cancelled, there is still hope for an international experience. Pre COVID, the Whittier Cafe performed an Ethiopian coffee ceremony every Sunday. The breezy black owned cafe is still open for business and servers delicious espresso nonetheless. Definitely one of the most comfortable patios on which to enjoy an afternoon pick me up or morning brunch. Don’t miss the missile silo If you are more of an urban explorer and do not mind bending the rules a bit, there is an abandoned missile silo ready to be explored. Originally sealed shut, it has been vandalized just enough to usher in those who dare. The trail can be found with a little research 60 miles east of Denver in Deer Trail Colorado. Photo by ©Blaine Harrington III/Getty ImagesCruise Colfax If you’re on the road, you might want to visit this famous street repeatedly mentioned in Jack Kerouac’s famous book. As the longest commercial avenue in the United States, one can get a great feel for the Denver culture by simply driving its expanse. Whether for a snack, souvenir, or photo opp, there are plenty of places to stop on the 49.5 mile road. Fear for your life If traveling during a pandemic does not scare you, you need to find something that does. White water rafting trips continue to run this summer. In order to prevent the spread, they are following strict guidelines. Boats are limited to two families plus the guide. With four major rivers running through the state, there are plenty of companies and locations from which to choose. Even so, the closest location for rafting near Denver is 30 miles away in Idaho Springs. Get Steamy in Idaho Springs As of June 8th, Idaho Springs’s Indian Hot Springs are now open for business. Due to the virus, however, they are functioning at limited capacity. In order to get a spot, it is recommended that patrons come early as they operate on a first come first serve basis. Photo by ©John Kieffer/Getty ImagesRun for the hills, or rather mountains, in Chautauqua Park Get out of the big city and escape to Boulder’s most accessible mountain, Flagstaff, located in Chautauqua Park. Only 30 miles from downtown Denver, Chautauqua park has a wide variety of trails to explore. With a variety in terrain, hikers of all skill levels are able to experience Colorado’s natural beauty. Substitute planes for boats Although air travel has become a little tricky, traveling by boat is no problem in Pueblo. For those who love water sports or simply feeling the wind and the waves, Pueblo Reservoir offers pontoon and jet ski rentals. Grab the crew to cruise around and catch some rays. Stroll Through the Gardens The Denver botanic gardens strive to showcase both local flora and that from throughout the world. They have several gardens including a Japanese tea garden, cactus garden, and a terrarium. Additionally, there is an entire sculpture garden for the art lovers. It features sculptures from Craig Ponzio, Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, Patrick Dougherty, and several others. Tickets cannot be purchased onsite and are sold in at limited capacity. Patrons purchase a specific time slot. Tickets are sold two weeks in advance. Grace Klaus is a Budget Travel intern for Summer 2020. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado.
Amtrak is stopping daily service to hundreds of stations across the US
Amtrak has estimated that passenger numbers could plummet by 50% over the next year, and ridership has already decreased by 95% during the pandemic. Though some states have started to reopen, passengers have not yet returned. Historic train station in Flagstaff at sunset ©Nick Fox/Shutterstock“Due to the long-term impact of COVID-19 on ridership, Amtrak has made the decision to operate with reduced capacity,” the company said in a statement. “Our goal is to restore daily service on these routes as demand warrants, potentially by the summer of 2021.” The downsizing comes a few months after news that Amtrak saw its largest ever number of riders in 2019 – 32.5 million passengers – and record growth on the Northeast Corridor, which runs from Washington, DC, to Boston, connecting through Philadelphia and New York City. California Zephyr train at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles ©Let Go Media/ShutterstockAmtrak relies on funding from the US government and told Congress in May that it needs almost $1.5 billion in funding to maintain “minimum service levels.” The train operator previously projected that in 2020 it would financially break even for the first time in its 50-year history. The exact schedules are still being determined, but long-distance routes that will be reduced to a triweekly service include the California Zephyr (Chicago to San Francisco), City of New Orleans (Chicago to New Orleans), Coast Starlight (Seattle to Los Angeles), Empire Builder (Chicago to Seattle) and the Southwest Chief (Chicago to Los Angeles). The Auto Train, which runs between smaller towns near Washington, DC, and Orlando, Florida, will continue to operate a daily service. Frequency will also be cut in the Northeast Corridor. This article originally ran on our sister site, Lonely Planet.
Hotel We Love: Little America, Cheyenne, WY
If you’re from the western U.S., you’re likely familiar with Little America, which has large, longstanding properties in Salt Lake City, Flagstaff, and Cheyenne. Named for a research station in Antarctica, the company's resorts have a charming “Western luxe” look and feel, with low-slung buildings spread out over grounds—sort of the open-range version of the sprawling properties that made the Catskills famous in the 1950s and '60s. The Cheyenne location is no exception, but its wide prairie views are an added bonus. THE STORY Little America Cheyenne was its own town before hoteliers came along in the first half of the 20th century, transforming the one-time municipality into their inaugural property. The carpeted lobby leans heavily on its Western influences, with couches, a fireplace, and rodeo-themed sculptures and lamps. Restaurants and a shop with cowboy- (and cowgirl-) influenced clothing, jewelry, and paraphernalia are located around the lobby's perimeter. THE QUARTERS Among the 188 rooms, there are eight sizes to choose from, and even the smallest of the bunch—the Deluxe King and Deluxe Two Queens—are spacious. Each room is adorned with art chosen by the owners, and larger rooms include a comfy sitting area. The property underwent a renovation in 2006, and all of the rooms were updated to include mini-fridges and microwaves, among other improvements. Additional amenities include a Keurig coffee maker, flat-screen TVs, and complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi. Pet-friendly rooms are available. THE NEIGHBORHOOD The resort is equal parts a family hotel suitable for extended stays and an oasis for long-haul travelers and cross-country road-trippers, as it’s located at the intersection of I-80 and I-25. It’s a quick ride (about $10 in an Uber) to Cheyenne Frontier Days Park as well as downtown, so if you’re looking for a night of bar-hopping, you’re covered. The current proprietors also own Sinclair Oil, a Wyoming refinery and gas-station chain with a number of locations, including one at the end of the hotel’s parking lot, which makes for an easy fill-up before you get back on the road. FOOD Hathaway’s Restaurant and Lounge, a family-friendly, old-school-glam eatery, evolved from the hotel’s original restaurant, Cheyenne’s Coffee Shop and Western Gold Dining Room. It still serves the homemade turkey roll that was early restaurant’s signature, but now it's merely one of many hearty dishes on offer, like prime rib, chicken-fried steak, and lots of burgers, sandwiches, and salads. The menu is also available in the lounge, a low-key space where travelers from around the nation rub elbows. Breakfast at Hathaway's is well-regarded, drawing locals for the weekend brunches, especially the elaborate and abundant affairs on Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Easter. ALL THE REST A Golf Association–rated course extends across the property and, accordingly, draws travelers working on their swing. There are sporty activity options beyond the golf course too, from a heated outdoor pool to a cute playground to a modern fitness center. For business travelers, there's a business center with computers and printers as well as plentiful meeting rooms and convention services. RATES AND DEETS Starting at $119. Little America2800 West Lincoln WayCheyenne, WY 82009(307) 775-8400 // cheyenne.littleamerica.com
Cool Towns for Holiday Shopping
Budget Travel loves celebrating America’s coolest towns as much as we love celebrating the holidays. So when Expedia mined data across social media platforms to see which local shops and holiday markets were getting the most buzz, we were psyched to learn the results. Here, five of the cool communities where you’ll find unique holiday gifts, a vibrant downtown, natural beauty, and an overall great travel experience. FLAGSTAFF, AZ: A SHOPPING PASSPORT WITH PRIZES The Flagstaff Holiday Shopping Passport is an appealing idea for nudging holiday shoppers to discover the bounty that local shops have to offer, rewarding shoppers who hit at least five stores (or spend at least $250) with the chance to win prizes. Flagstaff’s varied local businesses offer enough variety to check everybody off your shopping list, with outdoor and camping gear, books, home decor, candles, honey, personal care products, fine art, flowers, upscale clothing and much more. MYRTLE BEACH, SC: CHRISTMAS CRAFTS BY THE SEA Sure, you think of Myrtle Beach as one of your favorite summer destinations. So do we. But when the holidays roll around, the coastal community's ocean views and famous hospitality make for a beautiful backdrop for shopping and revelry. The Holiday Bazaar on Saturdays at Market Common, an annual Myrtle Beach tradition, offers seasonal craft vendors and fresh food. Plus, holiday events will be happening all over the Myrtle Beach area throughout the holiday season, including Crazy Country Christmas music and comedy shows, Motown Christmas Tribute concerts, and the Nights of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens, a gorgeous arboretum and sculpture garden. MISSOULA, MT: EUROPEAN-STYLE FOOD & FUN You might not expect to shop at a traditional European-style Christmas market in the heart of the Montana Rockies, but Missoula’s Little Red Truck Vintage Market European Christmas, at the fairgrounds (with heated barns), is a pleasant cultural juxtapositions. Hand-crafted gifts, antiques, exquisite European-style baked goods (and bratwurst), live music, and a visit from Santa Claus in his sleigh make this one of the West’s unique holiday events. And don’t miss Missoula’s Hip Holiday Market, sponsored by the Lowell School PTA and featuring the work of 50 local artists. BOWLING GREEN, KY: A FRESH MARKETPLACE We love Bowling Green’s SoKY Marketplace, a year-round outdoor farmers market that offers not only fresh, locally grown produce but also handmade holiday crafts, baked goods, meats, cheeses, and an array of other locally sourced products. Downtown Bowling Green also boasts a holiday ice-skating rink and an annual Christmas parade. MUSKOGEE, OK: CHRISTMAS IN A CASTLE Castleton Village, in downtown Muskogee, will enchant visitors with thousands of lights (you can drive or take a hayride or train, or take a pony ride). Inside the Castle Christmas, families will savor the holiday shopping, ornament-decorating, cocoa and snacks, and a visit with Father Christmas.
More Places to go
Sedona is a city that straddles the county line between Coconino and Yavapai counties in the northern Verde Valley region of the U.S. state of Arizona. As of the 2010 census, its population was 10,031. It lies within the Coconino National Forest. Sedona's main attraction is its array of red sandstone formations. The formations appear to glow in brilliant orange and red when illuminated by the rising or setting sun. The red rocks form a popular backdrop for many activities, ranging from spiritual pursuits to the hundreds of hiking and mountain biking trails. Sedona was named after Sedona Arabella Miller Schnebly (1877–1950), the wife of Theodore Carlton Schnebly, the city's first postmaster, who was celebrated for her hospitality and industriousness. Her mother, Amanda Miller, claimed to have made the name up because "it sounded pretty".
Jerome is a town in the Black Hills of Yavapai County in the U.S. state of Arizona. Founded in the late 19th century on Cleopatra Hill overlooking the Verde Valley, Jerome is located more than 5,000 feet (1,500 m) above sea level. It is about 100 miles (160 km) north of Phoenix along State Route 89A between Sedona and Prescott. Supported in its heyday by rich copper mines, it was home to more than 10,000 people in the 1920s. As of the 2010 census, its population was 444. It is now known for its tourist attractions, such as its "ghost town" status and local wineries.The town owes its existence mainly to two ore bodies that formed about 1.75 billion years ago along a ring fault in the caldera of an undersea volcano. Tectonic plate movements, plate collisions, uplift, deposition, erosion, and other geologic processes eventually exposed the tip of one of the ore bodies and pushed the other close to the surface, both near Jerome. In the late 19th century, the United Verde Mine, developed by William A. Clark, extracted ore bearing copper, gold, silver, and other metals from the larger of the two. The United Verde Extension UVX Mine, owned by James Douglas Jr., depended on the other huge deposit. In total, the copper deposits discovered in the vicinity of Jerome were among the richest ever found. Jerome made news in 1917 when labor unrest involving the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) led to the expulsion at gunpoint of about 60 IWW members, who were loaded on a cattle car and shipped west. Production at the mines, always subject to fluctuations, boomed during World War I, fell thereafter, rose again, then fell again during and after the Great Depression. As the ore deposits ran out, the mines closed for good in 1953, and the population dwindled to fewer than 100. Efforts to save the town from oblivion succeeded when residents turned to tourism and retail sales. Jerome became a National Historic Landmark in 1967. By the early 21st century, Jerome had art galleries, coffee houses, restaurants, a state park, and a local museum devoted to mining history.
Camp Verde (Yavapai: ʼMatthi:wa; Western Apache: Gambúdih) is a town in Yavapai County, Arizona, United States. As of the 2010 census, the population of the town is 10,873.The town hosts an annual corn festival in July, sponsored and organized by Hauser and Hauser Farms. Other annual festivals include Fort Verde Days (October); the Pecan, Wine and Antiques Festival (February); and the Crawdad Festival (June).
Grand Canyon National Park (East entrance)
Located in Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park encompasses 277 miles (446 km) of the Colorado River and adjacent uplands. The park is home to much of the immense Grand Canyon; a mile (1.6 km) deep, and up to 18 miles (29 km) wide. Layered bands of colorful rock reveal millions of years of geologic history. Grand Canyon is unmatched in the vistas it offers visitors from the rim. Open 24 hours.