The winter months can be the best time to enjoy the landscape around us, but can also be difficult to enjoy when unsure what to do. To help with this, Scenic America created this list of wonderful spots to explore to help you get the best out of this chilly season.
1. Grand Mesa Scenic Byway
Grand Mesa stretches 63 miles in Colorado, from I-70 to Cedaredge. The surrounding area features the canyon Plateau Creek and thousands of evergreen trees. Land’s End Overlook, at the Grand Mesa, marks the peak of the trail, opening up to amazing views of the landscape. During the winter months, snowshoeing is a great option for exploring the park, as well as going on ranger-led hikes to learn about the landscape and wildlife nearby. The Adams Falls Trail is highly recommended by visitors during this time as it features a large waterfall that freezes over during the winter months.
*Weather permitting, this byway can close during the winter season
2. Avenue of the Pines Scenic Byway
Located in Minnesota, Avenue of the Pines scenic byway, cuts through Chippewa National Forest. A shorter byway, the Avenue of Pines packs a strong scenic punch in its 47-mile route from Deer River to Northome. The scenery along this path is stunning, with fantastic views of the local red pine forests, marshes, and wildlife. The national forest is home to Bass Lake, Moose Lake, and Deer Lake, all of which are great locations to spend time ice fishing. If you’re looking for something more adventurous, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing are offered in this area as well.
3. Sunrise Coast Scenic Byway
Sunrise Coast Scenic Byway, follows 200 miles of the northern Lake Huron shoreline in Michigan. This byway offers many fun activities from sightseeing along the coastline and wildlife watching to wandering through the small coastal towns nearby. At the northern end of the route, Headlands International Dark Sky Park opens up to surreal views of the northern lights in the wintertime. Located in Mackinaw City, the park offers some of the best views of the natural wonder because of its location on the edge of Lake Michigan. Bring a telescope or bundle up to camp overnight for an unforgettable way to enjoy the landscape.
4. Selkirk Loop Scenic Byway
The International Selkirk Loop, located in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, stretches for 280 miles, circling the Selkirk Mountains in Idaho, Washington, and British Columbia. The road travels past forested hillsides, waterfalls, and charming small towns. Given its long length and stunning location, this byway presents plenty of opportunities to enjoy the scenic views of the lakeshores and rivers that it cuts through. The largest lakes of the west, Lake Pend Oreille and Kootenay Lake, are enticing draws for ice fishing in the winter (or regular fishing in the summer). Near the Canadian border, the Selkirk Loop leads to some of the top ski resorts of the northern Rockies, where you’ll find plenty of additional opportunities to ski on the slopes or spend time resting and warming up inside the rustic lodges.
5. Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway
Wyoming’s Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway is another must-visit location for winter activity enthusiasts. This 27-mile-long road follows the Shoshone River through the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park and weather permitting, is open year-round. While popular in the summer months, Yellowstone is also mesmerizing in winter when visitors can often catch sight of bison, elk, and other native wildlife species. When you’re ready to warm up, take the Buffalo Bill Byway to historic Cody, Wyoming, home to many classic saloons and old western-style hotels. Or, pay a visit to the town’s historic center where you’ll find five museums begging to be explored.
For more information on discovering scenic byways across the U.S, visit scenicbyways.org.