Go your own way

Road-trip briefs got us cruisin’ and newsin’

Published April 22, 2024

We don’t mean to alarm you, but June is getting pretty close. Anyway, that’s our excuse for daydreaming about the open road, and looking for news items about it. Surprise–we found some! Get your sunny-day playlist ready and make sure you don’t need to go potty…

Smiles for miles

Outside magazine has noticed the nearing of road-trip season too. They recently published a list of the world’s top road trips, and since you can’t drive through an ocean, we narrowed it down to the three North American ones. And would ya believe it, they’re all out west …

Dempster Highway, Canada

Featuring some of the world’s most beautiful tundra landscapes en route to the Arctic Ocean, the 458-mile highway delivers a show in every season: a spring-stravaganza of wildflowers, a midnight sun and Indigenous festivals in the summer, crimson kaleidoscopes in the fall, and the aurora borealis in the winter. The road is mostly gravel, though, so even in the summer you should leave your Maserati in the garage.

Highway 12 Scenic Byway, Utah

Scenic Byway 12, Utah

This 122-mile stretch of road connects two national parks: Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef. Along the way you’ll drive through an expanse of twisting canyons, red rock formations, pioneer towns, and pine forests. The trek can be completed in three hours nonstop, but… you’ll be stopping. In fact, with all the hiking, biking, and paddling opportunities on offer, this could easily turn into a three- or four-day escape. 

Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, Oregon

Like most things in Oregon, this 363-mile section of the PCH gets less attention than California’s, but it’s actually better. The road winds along the shore, of course, but also through craggy mountains, rocky coves, and sleepy fishing villages. Highlights include the otherworldly Oregon Dunes Recreation Area and Ecola State Park, where you can explore tidepools and look out for gray whales. 

Oregon Dunes

First gear, it’s alright

Among the best-selling books of 1974 was the autobiographical novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig. It was inspired by the author’s life-changing 1968 road trip, and now his titular 1966 Honda Superhawk has a new home in the National Museum of American History.

Pirsig had spent time in a mental health facility, and even underwent electroconvulsive treatments, before embarking on his month-long, 5,700-mile trek from Minnesota to California and back, along with his 11-year-old son. The novel was a complex look into Pirsig’s personal and mental health, but also how he finally had found peace in practicing Zen. In 50 years, the book has sold more than 5 million copies, and been translated into 25 languages making it the best-selling work of popular philosophy.

Meanwhile, thousands of Pirsig’s Pilgrims have made the same journey, and now they’ll have to make another trip to Washington, D.C. The “America on the Move” exhibit marks the first time the motorcycle has been on display … and also seems like a good way to learn about road trips, if you’d rather not actually go on one.

Charging ahead

Electric-vehicle owners often complain that they have to fend for themselves and hope they get lucky when the need to charge up on a road trip. But fret not, EV people: Google Maps is about to get a new bag of tricks.

The map update will provide info based on your battery status, and show the location of nearby EV chargers accordingly. It’ll tell you which hotels have on-site chargers, and provide up-to-the-minute port availability and charging speed. It will also make suggestions to map out the best charging stations for single- and multi-stop road trips before you leave home. (It might not help on the Dempster Highway though.)

The new version will roll out over the rest of the year, starting with cars that have built-in Google.

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