We'd all love a novel vacation break from our routines: maybe a long, scenic drive through some place perfect for day hikes and short bike rides, or a route with fascinating natural and human history timed to coincide with an Indian powwow, a gathering of birders, or a small-town parade. But who has the time TO make such plans – to research when and where to go?
The answer – once you're at a keyboard – lies at your fingertips. By inputting byways.org, you enter a world of more than 150 preplanned routes in 46 states. (No computer? Just call 800-429-9297 to request information.) From these resources, you can obtain the handy 124-page American Byways brochure: Travelers' Maps of National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads. It's sized to fit into a glovebox – and it's free.
Since 1991, the goal of the National Scenic Byways Program (run by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration) has been to create "… a distinctive collection of American roads, their stories and treasured places." Many of the national byways are located within a single state, but dozens stretch across multiple states, and some stretch more than 1,000 miles.
To help you save time, each byway on the Web site begins with a brief overview of what there is to see and experience, followed by tabs for large-scale and sometimes detailed daily travel maps, photographs, visitor services, Web site links, best seasons for travel, and dates of coming events – everything you need to plan the trip. Plus, it's all advertisement free, because this site is paid for with your taxes.