Interstate highways make it quick and easy to get from Point A to Point B anywhere in the country. But what fun is that? A Denny’s or a Pilot truck stop in Tucson looks pretty much just like one in Paducah or Toledo. All too often we find ourselves traveling the interstates because they are convenient, and sometimes they are the only choice if you travel in an RV, but whenever we can, we love traveling the two lane roads instead.
Some call them blue highways, or back roads, and some curse them when they find themselves stuck behind a farmer’s tractor moving at a snail’s pace. But the real America can be found on the slower paced two lane roads that wind their way across the country, passing through small towns where folks wave at you from their front porches as you go by, where you will find diners where the locals all have their own coffee cups waiting for them, and where it’s not uncommon to stop in a small town park for lunch and have the locals come by just to say hello and welcome you.
We’ve driven a lot of two lanes roads in our years as fulltime RVers, some just once and others over and over again. Today I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you.
Route 66 – Unfortunately, much of the old Mother Road has disappeared, covered over by superhighways, but there are still some nice stretches left here and there between Chicago and Los Angeles. My favorite is between Seligman and Kingman, Arizona, which coincidentally happens to be the longest intact stretch left in the country.
Natchez Trace Parkway – If you haven’t traveled the Natchez Trace yet, what’s keeping you? They called it the Devil’s Backbone back in the days when Indians, outlaws, and renegades prowled this historic route, preying on unwary travelers. But today the Natchez Trace Parkway is pure heaven for RVers! Picture 450 miles of good two lane road that meanders through hardwood forests and past charming small towns, with a speed limit of 50 miles per hour and with no commercial traffic allowed, with frequent pullouts large enough for any size RV, and you can see why we love this historic highway that winds from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. If you haven’t put this trip on your travel itinerary, do it now. You’ll be glad you did!
US Highway 101 – From Eureka, California to the tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, US 101 has to be one of the most spectacular drives in the country. It’s not a fast paced road, but that’s fine since you will want to take your time because you’ll be treated to dramatic ocean views, charming small towns, lighthouses, fishing villages, and if you’re really lucky, even whales passing by just offshore!
LoLo Pass Trail – If I had to choose my very favorite route in America, in terms of scenery, it would be a hard choice between US Highway 101 and US Highway 12 between Missoula, Montana and Lewiston, Idaho, which locals call the Lolo Pass Trail. The excellent two lane highway follows the route explorers Lewis and Clark took on their epic trek west, with towering mountains on one side and the beautiful Clearwater River on the other. Keep your camera handy for an opportunity to photograph deer, elk, moose, eagles, and whitewater rafters.
US Highway 60 – I could not begin to tell you how many times we have driven this great road. Beginning at an intersection with Interstate 10 in Quartzsite, Arizona, and stretching all the way to Virginia Beach, Virginia, we love to take this slow, scenic highway when we travel east from our old hometown in Show Low, Arizona. Sure, we could go north a few miles and jump on Interstate 40, but what’s the rush?
Lincoln Highway – The Lincoln Highway was America’s first transcontinental highway, stretching from New York to San Francisco, and though the old route has been replaced by Interstate 80, you can still drive much of the original route, especially in the east and Midwest. It’s a slow paced trip to remember.
Thought For The Day : Don’t worry about what people think. They don’t do it very often.
We have driven the trace and really enjoyed it. We will be driving part of it again in May from Natchez to Tupelo than over to Tunica for a casino fix.
We are going from San Antonio to Baton Rouge than head north. Any suggestions on how to stay off of I-10.
Read the blog every morning.
I also like travelling the two-lanes. Here in Texas there are wide and for the most part in good shape. For the next five years though, any time we go out, we are on a schedule – as work gets in the way of play. so the two-lane get by-passed for the more expedient four-lane. One of the things I always wanted to do, back in my sports car days, was to drive the complete path of Route 66. Gave up the sports car a few years ago – now my plan is to drive as much as possible in the RV and use the Toad for those other sections – Great blog – keep it up.
Without going a long way out of your way, I-10 seems to be your best bet. You could go north a bit and pick up US 190, which was a good road the last time we traveled it. US 190 would be 575 miles as opposed to 475 taking I-10.
We took the Natchez Trace all the way from Nashville to Natchez in November. We had just started fulltiming and we were traveling from Maryland to Texas in our B to buy a motorhome. We loved the Trace! What a great road. I have three blog posts about the Trace if you want to see them. This is the first… http://postcardsfrompamandlarry.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-natchez-trace-nashville-to-tupelo.html.
We might try route 60 this spring when we head back to the east coast for a visit. Could you point me to a section of your blog where you traveled that route? I’d appreciate it. We traveled much of route 50 one time and really liked that. It followed much of the Santa Fe Trail so there were lots of neat stops on the way. I have a great book that I have used repeatedly to follow some great routes: Road Trip USA-Cross Country Adventures on America’s Two Lane Highways by Jamie Jensen. You should check it out if you haven’t already.
Here are a couple from our last trip, Pam.
I was lucky to be able to take RT 66 from Chicaago to LA and back pulling a tent trailer to attend the 1962 Rosebowl. what a trip. I followed part of it thru OK TX and NM pulling a tear drop to attend the Good Sam Rally at Albuquerque a few years ago. Even pulled off to stay in a vintage 66 motel and diner I dont remember where. This summer celebrates the centennial of the Lincoln highway and there will be a vintage RV Caravan in June
thru Ohio, IN Ill and on to Lincoln Nebraska to meet another starting in CA and coming east.
Thank you, Nick!
Another beautiful highway is the Blue Ridge Parkway. Eary spring offers little traffic and great views. It is a perfect motorcycle road but has large turnouts and
lots of great views.
I plan on taking alt. US90 from Sequim, TX thru Houston, than pick up 190 in Louisiana. According to Streets and Trips going this way vs I-10 only adds about 21 miles to the trip. Ever been on alt US90 in Texas?