Discover America's best scenic drives mile by mile, in the 4th edition of photo-filled, detail-packed National Geographic Guide to Scenic Highways and Byways, now with 25 new drives. There are famous drives here, including the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Natchez Trace, and some of the prettiest sections of the Great River Road; and lesser-known drives as well, including the back roads of Pennsylvania's Dutch Country; Maryland's quiet Eastern Shore; and Michigan's remote Whitefish Bay. Some drives are jaw-droppingly magnificentWyoming's Centennial Scenic Byway and Oregon's dramatic Columbia River Gorg-while others possess quiet beauty, such as the lovely Flint Hills byways of Kansas. Among the 25 new drives is the Harriett Tubman Underground Railroad Byway in Maryland; Scenic Byway 143Utah's Patchwork Parkway; and Washington's White Pass Scenic Byway.
Describing the scenery, history, and points of interest along each route, veteran National Geographic writers combine their regional knowledge and storytelling techniques to ensure that your next road trip is a success. Also included are 375 glorious photographs and four-color maps for every drive, along with information on road conditions, driving times, site addresses, visiting hours, admission fees, and more. It all adds up to a "must have" reference for every adventurous motorist.
When you travel America’s Byways, you encounter the familiar—small towns, large cities, historic structures, and beautiful scenery—but the stories behind the familiar are fascinating. In a small town on New Year’s Eve, watch a 40-foot fiberglass walleye drop; in a fast-moving city, drive the same road as the first automobile test drive; visit the historic lighthouse where the first shot of the War of 1812 was fired; and travel a pristine byway that is totally on the water.
Follow the lure of undeveloped territory and the promise of wealth in logging, mining, hunting, and farming. Meet the explorers, conquistadores, Vikings, and voyagers; and understand the challenges and opportunities they found in this great country. Explore the byways that stretch across America—those that follow ancient trails, winding rivers, and historic roads. They tell the history of the Native Americans, westward pioneers, and wealthy industrialists.
Experience the byways and cross a “pig-tailed” bridge, a grand canyon, lush ranchland, or ancient path. Discover the byways where Judy Garland sang, Billy the Kid robbed, George Washington bathed, Martin Luther King, Jr. marched, and Sitting Bull rests. And learn the importance of protecting the land, honoring our history, and preserving our cultures for future generations.
America’s Byways appeal to all your senses. Look up to catch a glimpse of rock climbers, snow skiers, and bald eagles. See war reenactments, alligators crawling, dinosaur footprints, and children playing. Listen to the locals share barbeque traditions and tall tale folklore; and hear the sounds of roaring rapids, banjo strumming, and moose calling. Smell pecan pie, wildflower fields, and pine forests. Touch a blue glacier or a newborn calf. And when you’re hungry, taste fresh lobster, apple cider, cherry pie, or piñon cookies.
And, of course, the byways will take care of your sense of adventure! You can hike a “fourteener,” explore a cave, spot a wildcat, and mine for gold. Get out and kayak, windsurf, ice fish, mountain bike, or ride a hot- air balloon.
When you drive America’s Byways to a small town, big city, national wildlife refuge, or through a national forest, national park, or national heritage area, take some time and enjoy the byway experience. We invite you to learn about the culture and history of the byways, explore nature, watch the wildlife, and ride, hike, dive, climb, or soar! Come CLOSER . . . America’s Byways capture your imagination, satisfy your curiosity, and enliven your spirit every season of the year.
Mohawk Trail Drive
Greenfield to Williamstown on Massachusetts 2
41 miles | 1 hour | Late spring to mid-fall.
Massachusetts 2 can be very busy in summer and at peak fall foliage season (early to mid-October), but fall colors are magnificent and worth braving traffic.
Named after a route followed by Mohawk Indians traveling between what are now Massachusetts and New York State, the Mohawk Trail Drive has been a favorite scenic byway since it was first opened to automobile traffic in 1914. To follow this route across the Hoosac Range of wooded hills, head west from Greenfield on Mass. 2. (The actual Mohawk Trail begins at Orange, about 20 miles east.)
The road soon begins to climb out of the Connecticut River Valley. After 1 mile, stop at the Long View Observation Tower to enjoy a view reaching northward into New Hampshire and Vermont.
Continue west past the sort of roadside attractions that vanished from much of America with the coming of the interstate highways. Just 4.5 miles west of I-91 is the eye- catching Mohawk Trading Post (413-625-2412. www.mohawk-trading-post.com. Closed Wed.- Thurs. Jan.-March, closed Tues. all year), complete with tepee and totem pole. This is the first of several establishments along the drive specializing in Native American crafts in a region that has not had an appreciable Indian population for centuries. Within the first 7 or 8 miles west of Greenfield, two maple-sugar houses offer demonstrations in early spring of how maple sap is boiled down into syrup. They sell the finished product all year.
Three miles past the Mohawk Trading Post, detour left onto Mass. 2A for a half-mile side trip to Shelburne Falls. This snug mini-city, its tidy downtown mostly unchanged since early in the 20th century, is graced by the Bridge of Flowers (April-Oct.), a 400-foot span across the Deerfield River built for a trolley line that stopped running in 1928. Ever since, the women’s club has cultivated a garden along the bridge’s pedestrian walkway.
Continue along Mass. 2 past the Shelburne Falls turnoff. Cross the Deer- field River and following its path through the town of Charlemont. A half mile beyond Charlemont, you can rent a canoe at Zoar Outdoor (413-339- 4010. www.zoaroutdoor.com. Daily May mid-Oct., Wed.-Sun. March-April & mid-Oct. mid-Nov., Tues.-Fri. mid-Nov. Feb. Reservations recommended) and enjoy a water-level view of the Deerfield Valley.
Roughly 4 miles past Charlemont, Mass. 2 enters the Mohawk Trail 4 State Forest (413-339-5504. www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/western/mhwk.htm. Adm. fee). The Mohawk Trail’s commercial aspect abruptly ends here. The road follows a deep ravine, appearing almost to tunnel through trees whose crowns tower above: In autumn the effect is kaleidoscopic. You will find summer attractions as well—on your right, just over a half mile into the state forest, there’s a picnic area with swimming in the river (Parking fee Mem. DayColumbus Day).
Coming out of the state forest, Mass. 2 winds to the highest point along the Mohawk Trail at Whitcomb Summit (2,173 feet), reached just after you pass, on the right, the bronze “Elk on the Trail,” dedicated by Massachusetts Elks to honor their World War I dead. The view from Whitcomb Summit takes in Vermont’s Green Mountains to the north, New Hampshire’s Monadnock Mountain to the northeast, the Berkshire Hills to the south, and, west, Mount Greylock (3,491 feet), the highest point in Massachusetts.
Mount Greylock dominates the western horizon as you descend through the Mohawk Trail’s famous Hairpin Turn, 3.5 miles beyond Whitcomb Summit. The turn is situated on the shoulder of a ledge, with views of the valley. If you’d rather enjoy the scenery while sitting still, there’s the roadside Golden Eagle Restaurant (413-663-9834. www.thegoldeneaglerestaurant.com. Daily in summer, Fri.-Sun. rest of year) at the head of the turn.
Head downhill for 3 miles past the hairpin turn to enter North Adams, a classic small New England factory city. For a glimpse of North Adams’s industrial and railroad history, visit the Western Gateway Heritage State Park (413-663- 6312. www.mass.gov/dcr/parks/western/wghp/htm. Donation), downtown on Mass. 8, just south of Mass. 2. The park is the northern gateway to the Mount Greylock Scenic Byway, which traverses the state’s highest mountain. Climb the historic tower for long-range views of the area.
Drive west on Mass. 2 for 4 miles past North Adams to reach Williamstown. If North Adams is the factory city from central casting, Williamstown is the archetypal New England college town. Williams College (413-597-3131. www.williams.edu) has dominated the local landscape since its founding in 1793; its main buildings, many in Georgian and federal styles, surround the lovely village green that marks the end of this drive. Just off Mass. 2 and US 7, a mile south of the town center, is one of the area’s principal cultural attractions, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute (413-458-2303. www.clarkart.edu. Closed Mon. Sept.-June; summer adm. fee, free for students or under 18), with magnificent collections of old master, French Impressionist, and 19th-century American paintings.