Road Trips

Bucket-List Trip: The Top of Tennessee

By Elizabeth HutchisonBelow the LineSeptember 24, 2015

At LeConte Lodge—perched near the summit of Mount LeConte with panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park—there’s no electricity, no Internet, no running water, and the only way to get here is to hike in. In fact, not a whole lot has changed since Tennessee mountaineer Jack Huff began building the backcountry retreat in 1926. But for the 12,000-plus guests who keep the lodge booked solid from March through November, that’s the whole appeal.

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Secret Smokies: An Insider's Guide to Quiet, Back-Road Spots

By Elizabeth HutchisonBelow the LineJuly 31, 2015

It used to be said that a squirrel could go from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River without ever touching the ground. Today, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the few places in the country left with forests that dense. Chartered in 1934, the park, which straddles the North Carolina-Tennessee border, covers roughly 522,419 acres and attracts nearly ten million visitors each year. That’s two times as many as the Grand Canyon. So it can get plenty crowded, as anyone who’s ever sat in a 20-car-deep traffic jam on the Cades Cove Loop can attest. But even in the high-summer months, there are still places where you can enjoy the scenery in relative solitude. We talked to the folks at the National Park Service to point us in the right direction—away from where everyone else is.

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Back-Road Trip: The Mississippi Delta's Blues Highway

By Elizabeth HutchisonBelow the LineJune 12, 2015

Blues greats Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Son House, and B. B. King all grew up within whistling distance of U.S. Highway 61, the storied stretch of blacktop that cuts through the heart of the Mississippi Delta and decades ago delivered the musicians north—onto the national stage and into music history. There are miles of flat, fertile farmland, and stick-to-your-ribs soul food, some of the best music in the country, and an innate hospitality and friendliness, but also poverty and the painful legacy of the Jim Crow South. Above all, though, there’s an authenticity and soulfulness here that must be experienced firsthand. There’s nowhere else quite like it.

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Back-Road Trip: Outer Banks Scenic Byway

By Elizabeth HutchisonBelow the LineApril 30, 2015

A narrow two-lane ribbon of asphalt, NC 12 winds its way across North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a slender string of isolated barrier islands that stand sentinel off the coast—in some places more than thirty miles from the mainland they protect. The historic roadway—it wasn’t paved until 1950—is flanked by lush tidal marshes and pristine sounds on one side and towering dunes, deserted beaches, and the wide-open Atlantic on the other. There are two national seashores, two national wildlife refuges, and four historic lighthouses. In between, you’ll find tiny maritime villages are anchored by locally owned businesses with hardly a chain in sight. Before summer chokes the path with eager vacationers, hit the road and discover the region’s unique history and heritage for yourself.

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Back-Road Trip: Highway 98 (Tallahassee to Apalachicola)

By Elizabeth HutchisonBelow the LineMarch 13, 2015

The route: Start in Tallahassee and head south on FL 363 for about fifteen miles before hanging a right onto US 98-W to Apalachicola. 

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