Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. –John Muir
We live in an amazing land – one that has inspired poems, stories, and songs.
Spacious skies, redwood forests, amber waves of grain – the majestic words of over 200 years of awestruck singers and storytellers are familiar to all of us. Yet most of us rarely find time to enjoy the beauty we’ve been blessed with.
Our goal is to change that.
We recognize that often the most beautiful places are well off the beaten path. Leaving the highways to explore the byways, back roads, dirt roads and trails is a great way to – as John Muir put it – wash your spirit clean.
We want to encourage you to intentionally make plans to get away from the hustle and bustle of regular life in 2021, and to set out for the hidden beauty nearby.
There are a number of ways to connect with our country, and our hope is that we can help inspire you to try the ones that will bring you closer to our great land.
On The Road
With over 4 million miles of roads weaving their way throughout our country, there is no end of opportunities to explore. We have been blessed with the freedom to travel from city to city and state to state without hindrance – a freedom many around the world do not have – so it would be a shame not to take advantage of it.
The easiest way for most of us to explore is by automobile – just hop in your car or truck and hit the road. You don’t even need a map – just punch up your destination on your GPS, and get step-by-step guidance to the destination of your choice.
But cars are not the only way to take to the roads. If you prefer the wind in your hair and a closer connection to the streets, nothing beats the feel of touring by motorcycle. Bikers get to experience the beauty of our country like no one else.
Those who prefer to travel at a slower and quieter pace can tour parts of our country by bicycle. Many areas have designated bike lanes or paths to let you get out on two wheels and combine travel with exercise. Exploring locally on a bicycle will allow you to notice parts of your area of the country in a way you never can from inside your car.
Of course, no one says you have to take just a day trip when you explore. A travelling vacation is a great way to take your family on an extended trip to see our national treasures. But rather than stopping at hotels, consider touring by RV. A recreational vehicle is a great way to take in the sites while bringing your lodging with you. For more information be sure to check out our RV rental cost guide.
Even though there are already more roads in our country than you could travel in a lifetime, some of the best destinations to visit are located after the pavement ends.
Exploring off-road is a great way to see the undeveloped areas of our land. Dirt roads bring you closer to nature, where you are more likely to see many of the plants and animals that never come near a city. Deer, bear, moose, and eagles are often found where asphalt isn’t.
Jeeps and 4×4 vehicles are great ways to hit the back roads and explore. Their ability to handle mud and rough terrain make it possible to access areas that a regular passenger car cannot.
But they are not the only way to go off-road. Exploring by ATV is an excellent way to travel areas that even a 4×4 can’t access. All-terrain vehicles can take you down narrow trails to areas of our country that are missed by most.
Winter travel requires different options to access nature’s beauty. Skis, snow shoes, and snowmobiles are specialty tools for getting you across snowy and frozen terrain.
And don’t forget that bicycle. While touring bikes are made for paved surfaces, mountain bikes can take the adventurous traveler to places that make a billy goat sweat. Bike paths and trails crisscross many of our national and state parks.
Some parts of our country you just can’t get practically access on wheels. Our land is filled with rivers and lakes, so exploring by boat is the natural way to travel. But some destinations – like Hawaii for instance – are too far for anything but air travel. Even within the borders of the lower 48 states flying is a great way to get from point to point quickly.
While exploring our country by motorized means helps you access destinations a distance from your home, if you never leave your vehicle you will miss many of the things that make those destinations great. If you really want to experience the greatness of our land, there is no better way than exploring on foot.
Walking is a great way to experience all the sights, sounds, and smells that nature has to offer. A walking tour of a beach, park, national landmark will get you close and personal with the best parts of our country. And it will let you meet others along the same path, so that you can share the thrill of discovery.
An added benefit of exploring on foot is the exercise. Both you and your doctor will be happy with the results of a walk. But if a workout is your goal, then running will work more muscles while allowing you to cover more ground. Taking a jog around a national park is a great way to refresh both your body and mind.
If you are looking to explore nature in its fullest, then hiking is one of the best ways to travel our country’s byways and backwoods. Strap on your backpack, lace up your boots, and take to the trail. There are mountains, valleys, streams, and fields just waiting to be explored.
Of course, there are so many places to explore that a single day will not be enough. If you really want to extend the enjoyment of exploration, consider a camping trip to span several days. Sitting around a camp fire, gazing up at the stars, and sleeping to the sounds of nature are excellent ways to unplug from modern life and renew your mind and soul. Or if you prefer more stylish digs, consider glamping (see these glamping locations near Dallas for examples) instead. Just don’t forget your family camping checklist before you pack. And if a trip to the beach is on your itinerary check out our ultimate beach checklist to make sure you have everything you need.
We live in a big country. It is roughly 2680 miles wide by 1580 miles long, and that is just the continental part. Alaska and Hawaii are each over 2000 miles away from the main part of the country, further broadening our reach. As a result of that huge expanse, air travel is a necessity if you want to visit distant parts of our nation.
The good news is that there are over 5000 public air ports across the U.S., along with well over twice as many private ones. That means that if you want to move to a specific destination to explore quickly, there is likely an airport nearby that you can travel to.
The daily volume of air traffic around our country is staggering. There are roughly 87,000 flights per day moving travelers from one city to another. That is good news if you want to jet off to explore a distant byway – there is almost certain to be a flight that will match your schedule.