It is easy to express the beauty of Alaska in words but seemingly difficult to articulate the impression this place leaves on the soul. Some say, once you visit Alaska you will never be the same. Not always such a dramatic life change but often times a subtle shift. It is the encounter with the wild that often times brings you closer to your true self.
After spending four years living abroad, I came home wanting to rediscover the American West with a new fervor and appreciation. Somewhere along the way, I heard you could take a train from the San Francisco Bay Area to Seattle: an overnight, day-long, 22-hour journey past mountains, woodlands, lakes, rivers, cities and small towns.
The National Park Service was established to preserve these incredible scenes—and many others—in nature and history that otherwise would likely have had a finite existence in America. There are currently only 58 national parks but a total of 409 protected areas that cover more than 84 million acres in the United States and its territories. One of the most important things we can do to help protect these areas is to visit them and to share our experiences with others. We’re happy to celebrate 100 years of the National Park Service and hope to honor many more in the future.
The perfect cycling combination awaits in the rolling desert hills near St. George, Utah: a butt-kicking workout on the way up followed by an adrenaline-pumping downhill race. When I first rode up Snow Canyon last summer, it was a real “sufferfest.” Finally I crested that last sweaty hill, pushing my poor legs harder than they had any right to be pushed, filling my lungs with hot desert air… then I looked around. Miles of pristine Navajo sandstone stretched out before me, carved into towering walls of red and white striations. I felt like I was on Mars, and I was hooked.
Normally bikes aren’t allowed on the Biltmore Estate, the 7,000-acre park with a château-like mansion that’s the largest private home in the US. But we’ve managed to gain access for Backroads guests on our Asheville to Greenville bike tour. Riding up to this monument of the Gilded Age is just one of many highlights on a biking journey that uniquely combines rides through undulating countryside around the cultural center of Asheville, North Carolina with the scenic, bike-friendly roads outside historic Greenville, South Carolina.
Yellowstone and Grand Teton are two of the best national parks in the United States for viewing wildlife… the “Big Five” refers to the most popular animals that visitors hope to see in the parks–American bison, elk, gray wolves, grizzly bears and moose. Whether you are driving, cycling, hiking, rafting, kayaking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or just sitting on a bench, you are sure to see a variety of animals during your visit, but the Big Five continue to win the hearts of our guests during their Backroads vacations.
We’ve biked in the San Juan Islands since the earliest days of Backroads and know every inch of the great routes we’ve linked together with help from island-hopping ferries and an amazing network of local friends. We’re constantly fine-tuning our itineraries, keeping what’s great, revisiting what’s changed and making sure you enjoy the best of the San Juans – whether it’s an ideal picnic spot, an interesting regional artist or a feast of perfectly prepared fresh salmon.
This is the most popular family trip in the Backroads global portfolio. After exploring these two great national parks for 37 years, we know a lot about how the mountains were created, where wildlife wanders and when the geysers will likely erupt. Regional Manager Linda Cassell, who’s spent nearly three decades designing trips here, uses her deep expertise and vast local network to create an ideal mix of activities – so you and your family enjoy the best possible experience.
I grew up smack-dab in between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara… That gorgeous drive up the 101 freeway never gets old–thousands of acres of California’s farms ultimately give way to majestic mountains and the Pacific Ocean. Between the years of family trips to Santa Barbara and the years of driving through the Santa Ynez Mountains on my way to and from college, I came to master the 24-hour “must do’s” in Santa Barbara County. Whether you are extending your stay before or after any of the Southern California Backroads trips or just planning a California road trip, I highly recommend exploring the history, beauty and tranquility Santa Barbara County has to offer. Here are some of my local favorites.
When everyone’s together, there’s lots going on! That’s why our Family Adventures in Bryce, Zion and Grand Canyon have three Trip Leaders–including a dedicated Kids Activity Expert who regularly takes younger travelers off to do their own thing. So, while kids are exploring the Grand Canyon’s rim by mule, adults descend into the canyon by foot. As adults hike through the red rocks of Zion, kids are off canyoneering. And then there’s plenty of biking, hiking, swimming and swapping stories as a family too!
Whether you’re an avid camper looking to share the camping experience with family or friends, or someone who is new to the experience altogether, here are four things to look forward to on a Backroads Deluxe Camping Trip in the 2016 season!
Drawing on more than 37 years of experience riding in our own backyard, we’ve created a range of Wine Country itineraries, all designed to ensure you fully enjoy your time here. This California Wine Country Bike Tour, created by an expert who’s lived in the area for years, avoids most of the traffic while weaving together the best scenery and a selection of acclaimed vineyards. Whether you opt to challenge yourself with an epic hill or simply cruise to the next winery, our routes are all about choice.
Sonoma County is a mecca for three different types of fanatics–foodies, winos, and bike fiends. I was lucky enough to grow up in this beautiful part of California’s Wine Country and I’m forever indebted to it for instilling in me a love of cuisine, grapes and bicycles. Many Backroads guests on our Wine Country trips find themselves with a day or two to spare in my native land, and I (of course) think that I know how to spend it best. Allow me to share what I would do if I had a few days–and a few dollars–in Sonoma County.
Backroads offers the only multisport tour on the Kenai Peninsula that ties together all of the spots your family will want to see, including Homer and Kachemak Bay, as well as Seward and Kenai Fjord National Park. And we do it by deftly balancing the two best ways to explore: biking spectacular wilderness routes to the very end of the North American road system; and kayaking in the most biologically diverse waters in Alaska, with incredible wildlife spotting everywhere.