Pandemic travel restrictions have limited many travelers to staycations, and others are simply too nervous to get back on a plane. But there are still plenty of opportunities for adventure on the road.
The road trip has undoubtedly seen a revival during the pandemic, and it’s the perfect way to explore the countryside for rich autumnal scenery.
From week-long vacations to day trips, one of the best reasons to take to the road is the flexibility it allows. Here’s a selection of trails from around the world.
North Coast 500, Scotland, UK
This route covers over 500 miles of Scotland’s North Highlands and is said to have become “one of the world’s most iconic coastal touring routes,” despite the trail having formally launched only five years ago.
Head up to John O’Groats — a small village that is one of most northern points on the U.K. mainland — in the autumn or winter months for the best chance of catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
A section of Scotland’s North Coast 500.
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For daytime excursions, the North Coast 500 boasts a variety of historical outdoor sights, such as the ancient structures dating back to the Iron Age, known as “brochs.”
For those missing the season’s usual Halloween festivities and craving some haunted history, check out the ruins of Ardvreck Castle on the shore of Loch Assynt or Sandwood Bay.
Hikers up for a challenge might want to try taking on a Munro, Corbett or Graham. Those are the names given to Scotland’s mountains — starting at 2,000 feet — that classify them by height.
From deer to grey seals, fall in the Highlands also has wildlife.
A minimum of five days is recommended to do the full route, but a week lets drivers fully take in the sights.
Natchez Trace Parkway, U.S.
Based on a historic forest route used by Native Americans, this 444-mile parkway extends from Nashville, Tennessee, across Alabama, to Natchez, Mississippi.
There’s no shortage of fall foliage to take in on this interstate road trip, but top beauty spots include Fall Hollow Waterfall and Jackson Falls, both in Tennessee.
The Natchez Trace Parkway in autumn.
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For a short stop off along the way, try the Rock Spring nature trail in Alabama, the half-mile loop which follows stepping stones over a local creek into the forest.
Another notable attraction just off the parkway is Elvis Presley’s birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi.
Icefields Parkway, Alberta, Canada
It can take just four hours to travel Canada’s Icefields Parkway, which extends for 144 miles, crossing the national parks of Banff and Jasper.
Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) near the Canadian Rockies in Alberta, Canada.
Feng Wei Photography | Moment | Getty Images
Despite being the highest point on the Icefields Parkway, the Bow Summit Lookout is said to be “very kid-friendly and accessible for most people.”
The Weeping Wall is another highlight of the parkway, as snowmelt is said to resemble tears running down the rock face of Cirrus Mountain.
Suhua Highway, Taiwan
This near-75-mile stretch along Taiwan’s Highway 9 is said to be one of the island’s most scenic drives. Still, the winding cliffside road is also one of Taiwan’s most dangerous, known for rockslides.
The highway has recently undergone a revamp, with sections added to allow drivers to bypass some of its most perilous parts.
Taiwan’s Suhua Highway hugs the edge of the Qingshui Cliff.
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The highway route starts in Su’ao in Yilan County, a town known for its seafood. Before hitting the road, take in views from the Nanfang’ao Observation Deck, which was converted from a parking lot.
Taroko Gorge, a majestic, marble-walled canyon within one of Taiwan’s nine national parks, is a big draw and is just inland from the highway.
Silo Art Trail, Australia
For art lovers looking for a more unconventional road trip, look no further than Australia’s largest outdoor gallery in the state of Victoria.
Established in 2016, the Silo Art Trail project starts near Melbourne and follows a 124-mile route where grain silos have been used as canvases for large-scale paintings by Australian artists.
A painting in the Silo Art Trail from Lascelles, Victoria.
Courtesy of Yarriambiack Shire Council
The artworks are said to tell a story about the surrounding towns. For instance, the silo in Lascelles portrays a local farming couple belonging to a family that has lived in the area for four generations.
The trail takes a little over two hours to complete, so it’s perfect for people who don’t want to fully commit to a vacation on the road or who still prefer to stick to outdoor activities at this stage in the pandemic.