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3 Gorgeous Winter Road Trip Ideas

last updated January 20, 2015 by

With gas prices lower than they have been in years, now is the perfect time to hop in the car and take the road trip you have been putting off.

Make sure your car is winter ready, call in sick, and throw the kids in the car, this is the perfect time for a outdoor winter road trip. Keep reading for three top outdoor winter road trip ideas.

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Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim north of Flagstaff, Arizona is a great place to start. Here you will find and assortment of fun along The Bid Ditch. Eye-popping strolls including the 1.3-mile Trail of Time. Along this trail you will find markers to help put geological time in perspective as you make your way sometimes cautiously close to the canyon rim.

January to April hiking as some definite advantages. There are fewer people and cooler temperatures. This is the perfect time for a day-hike down toward the Colorado River and back. Or grab a backpack and spend some time relishing the reddish bowels of geological history. It’s about 10 miles down making your way through five life zones from the South Rim using the famous Bright Angel Trail to the developed backpacker campground at Phantom Ranch. You can even hire mule packers to haul your gear. You can also take the shorter yet steeper route via the Kaibab Trail.

You may come across some ice along the shady stretches of the upper trails so be sure to bring along Yaktrax or other devices that attach to boots for traction. Don’t let the cold scare you away as you’ll likely be peeling off layers as your descend and make your way along the river.

Wintering elk are popular with visitors to the South Rim. Stargazers can venture away from the lights at an elevation of 7,000 feet along the rim for wide-horizon, crystal clear views of the heavens.


Powder Highway

This road trip into the Canadian Rockies is an absolutely gorgeous drive. Start by heading north to Cranbrook and take a spur trip to Fernie Alpine Resort, known for abundant snowfall and skiing in give open bowls.

Finding world-class slopes continues as you head farther north. Try Kimberly ski area and Panorama near Invermere. For more stunning scenery try Lake Louise in Banff National Park.

Next make your way to Golden, British Columbia and visit the mostly expert runs of Kicking Horse and Revelstoke, which boasts the longest lift-served terrain in North America – 5,620 vertical feet! Its longest run, Last Spike, winds down the mountain for 9.5 miles.

Make the return trip through the West Kootenays, stopping at the trendy lakeside town of Nelson. Then make the drive up to Whitewater, which has been called “one of the best powder mountain on the continent.”

And lastly, before returning to the USA, turn off in Rossland to pillage the snowy slopes of Red Mountain.


Stormy Oregon Coast

Make your way to the Oregon Coast for the major winter attractions of waves and whales. The Oregon Coast offers sights of great grey whales on their southern migration from the Bering Sea to the warm water of Baja. The best viewing times occur from mid-December through January and then again in spring, peaking around late March when mother whales parade their calves along the coast from Mexico to summer pastures near Alaska.

Travel Oregon pinpoints 24 designated whale-watching spots, including, for best views, Oregon’s famous coastal state parks.

Winter is also the perfect time for storm-watching, when Pacific weather whips the surf to beach-pounding proportions. There are also many hiking routes that lead to spectacular viewpoints. Lighthouses are great destinations but remember to always stay well away from winter surf for safety.

Winter’s higher water levels on the coastal rivers, bays and estuaries improve wildlife – and bird-watching from a kayak. If you don’t have your own kayak a great option is to join a wildlife-watching and hot apple cider tour with Kayak Tillamook.