The air is warming, flowers are blooming, and the ground is thawing. That can only mean one thing…. spring is here! What is a better way to celebrate the season of new beginnings than to take a road trip to immerse yourself in the gorgeous scenery? Scenic America put together this list of some of spring’s most scenic byways to help you get the most out of the season.
1. Indian River Lagoon Scenic Byway
First off on our list is the Indian River Lagoon National Scenic Byway, located on the eastern coastline of Florida. This byway runs for 233 miles along the Indian River Lagoon and provides the best views of the beautiful powdery beaches the state is so famous for. The northern part of the road begins at the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island and ends at U.S. Route 1 in Cocoa. February through May is one of the best windows for viewing Florida’s wildlife. The gopher tortoise, native to the state, begins its active nesting season during this time. Manatees can also be spotted emerging from their hibernation to swim through the warming waterways. The St. Sebastian River Preserve offers the perfect opportunity for visitors to view this wildlife and more while hiking through its native longleaf pine forests. This byway also passes near the Melbourne and Cocoa Beach historic piers, the Sebastian Fishing Museum, and the Variant Air Command Museum.
2. Outer Banks Scenic Byway
The Outer Banks Byway is a unique highway that runs for 137 miles along the gorgeous North Carolina coastline and includes two ferry rides for travelers looking to cross Cedar, Ocracoke, and Hatteras Islands. The spring season is one of the best times to visit Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on Hatteras Island as it is considered off-season and much less crowded. Towering over the beaches at 208 feet (the equivalent of a 12-story building), this lighthouse is one of the most famous in the world. Another popular stop along this byway is Canadian Hole Beach. Located between the charming communities of Buxton and Avon, this beach is known for kiteboarding, windsurfing, as well as its welcoming sand. If you’re interested in history of the area, the town of Kitty Hawk is also nearby. Known for its connection with the Wright Brothers, the town features a memorial dedicated to them and their historic flight.
3. West Michigan Pike Scenic Byway
The West Michigan Pike Byway runs along the Michigan’s coastline for 187 miles, offering easy access to the lakeside beaches, historic lighthouses, and charming communities near Lake Michigan. In the spring, the city of Holland is a must-see for its Tulip Time Festival. Held during the first two weeks of May, the festival spotlights the beautiful Windmill Island Gardens where visitors can walk amongst a variety of 50,000 tulips in full bloom. Beyond its signature tulips, Holland showcases its Dutch history through attractions like Dutch Museum of Artifacts and the Deklomp Wooden Shoe & Delft Factory. At the northern end of the byway are the towns of Silver Lake and Hart. The Silver Lake Sand Dunes, located along the byway, are particularly inviting for hikes, beachside walks, and beautiful views. Visitors also enjoy the charming town of Saugatuck, known for its breweries, restaurants, and shops.
4. Gold Belt Tour Scenic and Historic Byway
About an hour’s drive from Colorado Springs, Colorado’s 131-mile Gold Belt Tour Byway is a popular scenic route that passes through a region known for its rich history of gold mining. While visiting the mining towns of Cripple Creek, Victor, Florence, Canon City, and Florissant, travelers can try their own hands at gold mining or view an active mining operation. There are several famous landmarks, too, such as Pikes Peak and the Royal Gorge. Many would argue that the most exciting part of the drive is the Royal Gorge Bridge, near Canon City, the tallest suspension bridge in America. During the spring, nearby Red Canyon Park is particularly inviting as its lush vegetation bursts with vibrant red, gold, and green colors.
5. Sky Islands Scenic Byway
To wrap up our list is the Sky Islands Scenic Byway. This is a 27-mile journey through Arizona delights drivers with remarkable scenery and surprises around every corner. The highway begins northwest of Tucson and ends at Mount Lemmon, providing travelers with direct access to the Coronado National Forest. There are several pull-off points along the way to stop and take a photo or two of the surrounding mountains. Spring is ideal to travel this byway as the mountains are filled with re-emerging plants and wildlife. The incline on this route increases so dramatically that there is a temperature difference of 30 degrees from start to finish. The biodiversity varies drastically between these areas and is perfect for visitors to see the blooming flora while passing through. At the end of the trail is the year-round ski resort of Mount Lemmon, which offers visitors breathtaking views of the valley.
For more information on discovering scenic byways across the U.S, visit scenicbyways.org.