U.S. Road Trips: The West
Get out of the city and into the great wide open. Pack up and hit the highway with this list of weekend road trip destinations in the western United States. Are we there yet?
Head to Holbrook if you're in the mood for time travel and extreme landscapes infused with extreme kitsch.
Route to take: Tour Route 66 between Albuquerque and Flagstaff, the longest remaining stretch of the historic highway uninterrupted by a major interstate. The landmark Wigwam Motel is cozy and an hour away from the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert.
Good to know: Sneaky javelina, everywhere in the desert, are opportunistic feeders.
Head to Paradise Valley if you're in the mood for a divine spa escape with endless views of the desert.
Route to take: It's less than half-an-hour by car from the center of Phoenix.
Good to know: Reserve a casita at Sanctuary at Camelback Mountain. Seven spectacular mountainside homes complete with games rooms, secluded pools and guest houses are available to those looking for the ultimate private experience. Indulge in a variety of Asian-inspired treatments, take fitness classes amidst a glorious red-rock landscape, or enjoy haute cuisine at celebrity chef Beau MacMallan's restaurant, Elements.
Head to Far Meadow if you're in the mood for a scenic retreat far away from the crowds of Yosemite, but with with the same feel of being in wild nature.
Route to Take: The Sierra Scenic Vista Byway is the only way to go for incredible scenery, historic landmarks, and breathtaking natural formations. Just don't look down.
Good to Know: The high elevation means the meadow is full of colorful wildflowers long after the summer's heat has fried the blooms in the low Sierras. John Muir would've loved it here.
Head to Mendocino if you're in the mood for a digital detox of rugged coastline views, hiking through Redwood/Pygmy forests, Anderson Valley wine country, and farm-to-fork dining.
Route to take: From San Francisco take Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway.
Good to know: Little to nil cell reception in most of the county. Stay at St. Orres, a romantic, Russian-style wood carved hotel serving up incredible, freshly foraged meals.
Head to Monterey/Carmel if you're in the mood for romantic adventure, divine sea breezes, and views of eagle nests and gray whales.
Route to take: Up or down, the US 101 or CA 1
Good to know: Book at the hidden Hotel Pacific in Monterey for courtyards, comforters to kill for, and your own fireplace or the quaint Carriage House in Carmel. Stop into Cottage of Sweets and eat at La Bicyclette and Nepenthe. Locals can whisper the best trails to take to waterfalls that drop into the sea.
Head to Paso Robles if you're in the mood for a luxury stop off on your way from LA to San Francisco.
Route to take: If you're taking a sneaky break from the winding Highway 1, Paso Robles is right on the 101.
Good to know: This is small-town country, bar a couple of restaurants and an undesirable late night haunt, you're best to enjoy the luxury of the Hotel Cheval, all all rich elegance, and nothing like a motel — which you'll find most stops along the way are. It's in the middle of wine country too, which is always a bonus.
Head to Point Reyes if you're in the mood for delicious oysters, fresh seafood and beautiful Northern California scenery.
Route to take: Highway One (From SF). You'll pass lots of farms, wineries & water views.
Good to know: Visit The Marshall Store for amazing chowder, and Hog Island Oyster Farm for fresh bivalves that you can shuck at your own pace. Both places are BYOB. For a romantic stay, visit Nick's Cove.
Head to the Russian River Valley if you're in the mood for amazing Pinot Noirs away from the touristy Napa Valley.
Route to take: The 101 and 116 will both get you close; River Road brings you in.
Good to know: Stay at Farmhouse Inn. They have amazing last minute getaway rates for those in their Spur of the Moment Club. They deliver chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows to your room so you can make s'mores by the fire. They also have an organic spa that was recently featured in Vogue. Their restaurant is pretty amazing. Arista Winery, Lambert Bridge, Twomey for the tasting room, and Lynmar Estate for the organic garden u-pick veggies.
Head to Santa Cruz if you're in the mood for a serene surf in the cold blue Pacific.
Route to take: Coastal drive down Highway 1 with a detour at the end of the day to a private tub and sauna at the Well Within.
Good to know: The aroma of eucalyptus and salt water will clear your lungs and mind leaving you prepared to tackle another full week of meetings and smart phones. Drop into Poet and the Patriot Pub for a real local pint and Cafe Brazil for breakfast (great coffee and beautiful waitresses).
Head to Sugar Creek Canyon if you're in the mood for your own private off the grid Airstream in Big Sur.
Route to take: Highway 1 is your only option.
Good to know: A guy named Richard built the road there so he picks you up at the driveway and brings you about a mile in the canyon. Leave during your stay and you hike back to the car park. He usually provides jam and farm fresh eggs from the chickens on the property. If you don't feel like cooking, Deetjen's is just up the road and is great for breakfast or dinner. Also, Eslaen Institute is right across the street for natural hot springs soak overlooking the great Pacific ocean blue.
Head to Creede if you're in the mood for horseback riding, rafting, world-class fly fishing, and fabulous food.
Route to take: From Denver take the 285 south to the 112 to the 160 to the 149 and wind your way through three national forests.
Good to know: You don't have to know anything about fishing or riding to enjoy 4UR Ranch, a gorgeous family-owned property nestled in the Rocky Mountains. The scenery and food are to die for and there are plenty of less athletic pursuits.
Head to Cortez if you're in the mood for historic, scenic, and Native American areas.
Route to take: Cut through the mountains of Wolfe Creek and Durango for a scenic drive from Denver.
Good to know: Get to Mesa Verde National Park early so you can sign up for the different cliff dwelling tours offered throughout the day. They fill up quickly. There is a lot of hiking and walking around this national park. You can can explore old Anazi and Hopi cliff dwelling ruins
Head to Dolores if you're in the mood for high-altitude serenity, midnight soaks in natural hot springs, fly-fishing, hikes through waterfalls and wildflowers, community-gourmet meals.
Route to take: From Telluride, Colorado, take 145 Hwy to gravel road 585. Don't take your brand new sports car for this road trip.
Good to know: Dunton Hot Springs is a 1880's mining town turned luxury all-inclusive rustic resort. Stay in Bjoerkmans, Honeymoon, or Well House cabin.
Head to Smith Rock State Park if you're in the mood for breathtaking landscapes and Thunder Egg hunting.
Route to take: Head south on the 97 from Portland and pass through Willamette National Forest, stopping in Redmond, which is just on the borders of two other national forests, the Ochoco and the Deschutes.
Good to know: Oregon State Parks have many camping options to fit your desire. Stay in a delux cabin operated by the park, camp on a bluff overlooking a small river valley with giant rocks seeming to come from nowhere, or stay in a yurt in at the Umpqua Lighthouse.
Head to Ojo Caliente if you're in the mood for daytime dips in the red clay mudbath and baking in the New Mexico sun; nighttime soaks in private tubs with loved ones under the incredible night sky.
Route to take: Winding US-285 from Santa Fe is especially gorgeous in the Fall.
Good to know: A longtime hippie destination, this natural mineral hot springs was recently given a more "spa-like" makeover. The springs can get crowded with day visitors on weekends; weekdays and evenings (which are guests-only) are best for totally chilling out. Book a massage.
Head to Truth or Consequences if you're in the mood for unwinding in a hot bath.
Route to take: It's a 2 1/2 hour drive down the 25 from Albuquerque.
Good to know: Book your bath when you reserve your room at Sierra Grande. Each night at the beautiful hotel comes with a one hour bath in one of four private rooms -- one is even outdoors! The healing natural geothermal waters come right out of the ground at 107 degrees. Now you are hungry. Cafe Bella Luca is a modern authentic Italian restaurant run by a real Italian and just a couple blocks away. If you need even more relaxation, get a deep tissue massage at the hotel. They will ring you out like a sponge.
Head to White Sands if you're in the mood for feeling like you've reached the ends of the earth, or maybe even another planet.
Route to take: Off Highway 70, a day trip from Las Cruces, Truth or Consequences or Alamogordo, NM.
Good to know: Rent sleds and wax from the visitor's office to fly down the dunes. Bring lots of food and water. Rolling white sand dunes stretch as far as the eye can see at this remote national park where the first Atomic bomb was tested. Sunset and moonlit hikes are especially otherworldly. Best for super-contemplative types.
Head to Jefferson if you're in the mood for antiques and good old fashioned biker bars.
Route to take: Just west of Texarkana, the 59 leads you in from points North or South and the 49 from the west.
Good to know: Auntie Skinner's Riverboat Club serves up the fried pickles while Allman Brothers cover bands play and the people watching can't be beat. Stay at one of the victorian B&B's like The Benefield House and antique your heart out at the dozens of shops on Austin Street.
Head to Laramie if you're in the mood for steeds, saddles, and a John Wayne saloon.
Route to take: Outfit yourself with boots, hats, and stampede strings at Boot Barn, then drive twenty miles west onto US 130 and set up at The Vee Bar Ranch.
Good to know: The kids will love riding, tubing, skeet shooting, and gathering round the campfire.
While in the area: Read our Postcard on The Vee Bar Ranch.
Head to Jackson if you're in the mood for the majestic presence of the Grand Tetons.
Route to take: The Yellowstone-Grand Teton loop is the most scenic drive in the Northern Rockies.
Good to know: Stay in a beautiful little place called Wilson (population: 200), about a ten minute drive from downtown Jackson. Go to Nora's Fish Creek Inn for country-style breakfast, Sweetwater Jackson Hole for lunch, and Million Dollar Cowboy Bar for whisky, competitive pool games, and dancing in muddy boots.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE
Visit our Road Trip shop and pack up the car.
MORE FATHOM-APPROVED GETAWAYS
Have you seen our list of the Most Romantic Hotels in The Northeast?
Special thanks to contributors Lanee Neil, Veronique Lievre, Joan Larsen, Courtney Jermain, Jay Carroll/One Trip Pass, Robert Christian Malmberg, James Davidson/We Heart, Stephanie March, Peggy Sell, Joanna Bean Martin, Jay Hinson, Maria Russo/ Culture-ist, Roz Music, Jasmine Moir, and Heather Taylor/LA in Bloom.
Photos: Jay Carroll; courtesy of Far Meadow; courtesy of Dunton Hot Springs; Ryan Heffernan; courtesy of The Vee Bar Ranch.