Spring is arguably one of the best times for a drive. Everything is bursting to life, you have the chance to experience the warm sun and fresh air after a long winter, and the whole country is open to you. You don’t have to worry about snow, or ice; all you need to plan for are sunny days and maybe a drizzle or two.
At VIP European Auto, we live for the perfect drive. Here are some of our favorites and some that are on our bucket lists.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
The scenic drive through Joshua Tree National Park is unlike anything you’ve experienced before. Straight through, it’s only about 70 miles, but you’ll want to plan for pit stops to enjoy the amazing panoramic views, climb on massive rock formations, stroll through the cactus garden, marvel at an oasis, and find the perfect Joshua Tree for your photos.
There’s more than one entrance, of course, but we recommend starting in Palm Springs — what better place for a vacation, after all? Your first stop will be the Visitor Center for a map, and then on through the Colorado Desert environment, around sea level. You’ll see ocotillo, with their tall branches tipped by bright red blossoms. Stop at the Cholla Cactus Garden and walk along its paths, but don’t get too close to the prickly plants.
Now we know what you’re thinking: you’re from Arizona, why see more cacti? Because it’s a little taste of home in an otherwise diverse and beautiful landscape.
Continue down the road and you’ll see so much, including the Key’s View (5,000 foot elevation), the infamous “tree” that gave the park it’s name, the fascinating wildlife of the Mojave desert, and so much more.
It’s a must-do drive if you’re ever in California.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
If mountains are what you desire, then this drive is for you. Imagine 105 miles through the Shenandoah National Park along the crest of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Waterfalls, spring wildflowers, hiking trails, wildlife, picnic areas, and 75 scenic overlooks will add hours of enjoyment to your park visit, so take your time on this popular road trip. You’ll truly be one with nature during this beautiful drive.
You can pair it with a vacation spent in Washington D.C., too, as they’re only about 1.5 hours apart!
The park has four entrances and we recommend using the one at Front Royal on US-340. It will bring you to the Visitor’s Center, where you can plan your full excursion.
Take your time and stop at the well-marked scenic overlooks, starting with the Shenandoah Valley Overlook. You’ll see the Shenandoah River winding gracefully through the lush green valley. It’s truly a unique and breathtaking view.
If you don’t want the drive to end, you can continue. Where Skyline Drive ends at Rockfish Gap, the Blue Ridge Parkway to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, a trip of nearly 500 scenic miles, begins.
Phoenix to Flagstaff (Arizona’s Ole Reliable Best Drives)
Almost every Arizonan has been on this drive in their lifetime. Spring is the best time for it: the weather is a cool 80-degrees with some moisture still lingering in the air from the morning dew.
The drive begins on I-17 north through the Sonoran Preserve and continues through the desert landscape for nearly one hundred miles before reaching our first suggested stop, Montezuma Castle National Monument.
These well-preserved prehistoric cliff dwellings were the homes of the Sinagua people for over 400 years. Continue northeast on I-17, then take AZ-179 north to Sedona along the Red Rock Scenic Byway. There you’ll enjoy about seven miles of stunning scenery that includes rugged sandstone rock formations tinted red by the presence of iron.
Sedona has an ample amount of charm too and is the perfect place to stop and rest your legs, or to hang out for the weekend. It’s a small town with plenty of shops, restaurants, hikes, and views.
Once you’re on the road again, you won’t want to miss Slide Rock State Park, especially during wildflower season. After that, you’ll hit Flagstaff and enjoy the cooler weather, higher elevation, and 360 degree views.
And that’s our list! We know it’s short, but spring isn’t the longest season, especially in Arizona. So take your pick and go and see the world before the summer heat and lethargy sets in. Drive safely and enjoy yourself!