Even with gas prices up, driving still is the best way to see America and this book makes it even more appealing by finding many beautiful and accessible areas and grouping them by region, perfect even for a single vacation.
Although it's grouped into drives in four regions (and Canada)--West, Rockies, Central and East--it covers places in all 50 states (and Canada). What I especially liked are the maps that come with each drive. They show the route with numbered points of interest--whether town/city, natural features (including national forests and parks), or historic site. They also give mileage (so important to planning), the best time of year to go, and what events or attractions may be near. There are "Did You Know" facts about the area and sidebars with many kinds of local information. For those who have an avid "travel planner" in the house, each trip includes places you can contact for more information.
24 places are listed in the West, from George Parks Highway in Alaska to Aloha Loop in Hawaii. The Rocky Mountain Region begins in Wyoming's Icefields Parkway and lists 52 places, the last being Upper Peninsula Drive.You can see at a glance, which areas are close enough to be grouped together easily on a single trip, time permitting.
The Central Region highlights an often neglected part of the country travel-wise, and the Eastern Region shows places from the southern tip of Florida to the Maine Coast and Quebec.
There are large color photographs on every page, a detailed map with points of interest for every individual drive, all adding to the overall message--this is a gorgeous country.
What a delightful book! The purpose is laid up right at the outset (Page 5): "One of America's most popular pastimes is, quite simply, going for long, leisurely drives in the country--and that's what this book is all about." Through this volume, we see 120 separate trips, each described in enough detail (normally 2-4 pages with a map) to decide if that tour might make sense to you.
Let's look at a few examples. One from my own experience--many years ago--is California's Big Sur Coast (pages 74-77). The trip starts at Monterey, goes on to Carmel-by-the-Sea to Big Sur (what a view from the highway, as I recall!) to San Simeon and the Hearst Castle, ending in San Luis Obispo.
I'm from Illinois, and there is precious little here from my home state! One is a trip from Galena to Port Byron; the other is a drive through the Shawnee Hills National Forest.
I also lived in Western New York for many years. This tour ends at Niagara Falls, one of my favorite spots. The tour starts at the Eisenhower Lock along the Saint Lawrence River and winds through Ogdensburg (with its wonderful Remington Art Museum) to Thousand Island and on to Rochester and Old Fort Niagara with an end in Niagara Falls. I have seen many of these sites and can attest to the delight I would experience if I traveled the full length of this route.
In the end, a delightful book to read and to provoke the imagination as to what the various trips would be like.
on January 13, 2013
I downloaded this book to a Kindle Fire and am very disappointed with the results. Because there are no page numbers, it is difficult to quickly locate those of the 120 specific "scenic drives" that you want to read about. Also, it is necessary to zoom in on any of the maps in order to read town names, roads, etc. The bottom line is that this book is cumbersome in an e-reader format and would have been better-acquired in print form.
on April 30, 2013
In New Orleans we have a saying about places that used to be here... They "ain't there no more". I don't know who did the editing in this book, but on page 336 you are told that you can take a railroad trip at Kinzua Bridge State Park in Pennsylvania. I know this isn't true, because my family (from that area originally) went to take photos of the bridge back in 2003 after it was blown down in a tornado. It is not going to be rebuilt. Apparently there is going to be a skywalk on part of the bridge that didn't fall, but... the Kinzua bridge "ain't there no more". Hopefully this was the only oversight in the book... I don't know about any others.
on February 27, 2012
Too wordy and not quite picturesque enough to pass as a "coffee table book", yet not comprehensive enough to fully plan a road trip, this book is searching for a purpose. While passable as a trip idea generator, you will find yourself quickly reaching for the Internet or another more detailed reference.
Reader's Digest defines America as, the 50 United States and 5 Canadian provinces (parenthesized below), and divides the area into 4 regions:
Western Region: 24 drives - Alaska, (British Columbia), California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington [3 each in Alaska and Hawaii]
Rocky Mountain Region: 28 drives - (Alberta), Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Montana, Utah and Wyoming
Central Region: 33 drives - Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, (Manitoba), Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin
Eastern Region: 35 drives - Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, (Nova Scotia), Pennsylvania, (Quebec), Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia
As might be expected of scenic drives, the majority go through and along national parks and forests; some even completely in a national park e.g. Glacier's Going-to-the-Sun Road and Yellowstone's Grand Loop. While some drives start or end in a sizeable city such as San Francisco, Nashville or the Bronx in New York City, and others highlight a fair number of small towns such as the loop through Pennsylvania Dutch Country, the majority os sites are natural vistas, wildlife refuges, beaches etc.
The overview section of each drive contains useful information such as suggested times to go, a few must-sees and web links for more information. Then several points on the drive get described in more detail, usually one or two paragraphs each along with a semi-detailed map.While the separation of drives into regions make some sense, within a region, the drives are organized by state or province. This makes it hard to connect drives which may be in neighboring states, separated by only a few miles such e.g. the drives named Great River Road (Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa) and Illinois Northwest. Also absent from the descriptions of the drives are intermediary milage markers. That makes it difficult to think about doing a portion of a drive. Those two issues make it very challenging to think about linking two partial drives together without a separate map.
The pages are fairly heavyweight and glossy, so if you're looking to sit back and read 5-15min descriptions of various drives via a physical book, then perhaps this is a good fit.
on January 16, 2014
We have used and loved the Reader's Digests' "Most Scenic Drives in America" for several editions now, and decided to purchase the latest edition in an e-reader format, for ease of use. I expected the e-edition to be somewhat clunky, given that the book has lots of maps and pictures, but it I did not expect it to be virtually useless -- which it is. The absence of a table of contents makes it virtually impossible to use for trip planning. If, for example, you wanted to see what was available in Arkansas, you would either have to search the word "Arkansas", you get 29 hits, several of which have nothing to do with travelling in the state. For the first two sections -- the West and the Rocky Mountains -- there are regional lists of drives, but I could not find these for the rest of the regions.
Anyone who is planning a road trip in the US should certainly own this book -- it's been a great help to us in planning trips, and has helped build many beautiful memories. Definitely, a five star effort. JUST DON'T BUY THE EBOOK.
on April 21, 2014
This is one of the worst e-reader implementations I've seen Amazon let out the door! A beautiful production that is practically imnpossibe to use in e-reader form! Navigation is not provided so you have to page from section to section, etc. So bad I"m going to ask for my money back.
on May 3, 2015
The actual book may be great but the kindle version is very poorly organized. There was no overall Table of Contents with links in the beginning to help readers go to a region quickly. Instead, I need to check out the western region first then the SW region, no index to the mid-west, at 65% then you find an index for the eastern region. Whoever organized this book for kindle did a terrible job.
on March 11, 2014
With no overall table of contents provided, I don't know how the editors of this Kindle version expect a reader to use this book. There are four regional TOCs with hyperlinks, but they are buried in the pages and one of them, the Central Region TOC, is in the middle of its scenic drives instead of at the beginning. I spent two hours manually creating a directory that I will eventually turn into a document that I can keep on my iPad for use with this book. This Kindle book is an incomplete product that should have been completed before release or released with a warning.
If you love a great road trip and need some ideas for some future trips...or if you just want to sit on your couch and take a beautiful journey in your mind, the newly revised and updated "The Most Scenic Drives in America" is a book I think that you will love. I know I do.
The book gives 120 different trips, divided into four major areas of the US, Western, Rocky Mountain, Central and Eastern, in each case also extending up into Canada to include some trip to visit our northern neighbors. For each there is a very nice map, a great deal of useful information, beautiful photographs and links to the web sites of attractions and places that are discussed so you can go online and get additional information. Each point of interest along the trip in each drive is numbered, with a discussion of the must see sights. The length of each trip is given, with suggestions of when the best time to go is and other near by attraction that you might want to visit.
Looking over the list, I figure that I have probably driven about 20 of the included drives, in Nova Scotia, New England, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, Delaware, Maryland...oh, and New Jersey! So that only leave me about 100 to go and I wish I could just grab this book, take a few months off work and hit the road. But honestly, as great as my trips were, I wish I had a look at this book before I took them, because there are some things I missed. This book is just full of great ideas, and really, no matter where you live in the US, there is probably a route nearby for you to explore.
And did I mention the hundreds and hundreds of fabulous photographs? I must say, one thing I really enjoyed looking through this book was checking out the pictures from places I have been and comparing them to my own. Mine don't come off too badly but I picked up a lot of great ideas for the future.
Now, I do think I should mention that when you set out on any of these trips, you may need to gather some additional information..like from those web sites the book gave you. It does not discuss where to stay, except in general terms, or some mentions of a few lodging that are sights in themselves and the same is true with places to eat. But I have no problem with that because that is not what this book is.
What it aims to do, to give us an idea of some fabulous places to visit and a lot of great information about planning those trips, it does a great at. But even if you are not going to take any of these drives..even if you don't own a car!...this book will give you many enjoyable hours, just paging through, getting off the Interstate and checking out some of the most beautiful places in our country.