Types of Roads

Types of roadsOne way to dramatically change the dynamic of a road trip is to change the types of roads you’re driving on. Your road trip route may take you on only one type of road. It may take you on many different types of roads. The mix is up to you, and that mix will really shape the character of your road trip. One way to see the many road types there are is to look inside a road atlas. I’ve also described some of the most useful road types below.

If you like pictures of roads, I’ve created a series of pages for you. You can find them at Pictures of Roads. There are several categories:

  • Pictures of Golden Roads
  • Pictures of High Roads
  • Pictures of Slow Roads
  • Pictures of Highways
  • Pictures of Unique Roads

Quote - William Least Heat Moon

Limited Access Highways

The USA has a network of Interstate highways that fit this category. This is the quickest way to travel. If you have time limitations and a long way to travel, then this is the obvious choice. There is also a surreal quality to driving along and watching your environment change rapidly. While driving across the country on the interstate highways, I’ve been amazed at how quickly everything changes. This is a great thing for those of us with shorter attention spans. But don’t get stuck on this method of travel. There are a lot of amazing things you’ll be passing by if you never get off the beaten path.

Medium Capacity Highways

These are the highways that join towns, cities, and points of interest. They travel fast, but not as fast as the limited access highways. You’ll often pass right through towns along the way. A lot of scenic routes travel along this type of road. I find this to be a standard way to wander. This is a good way to find things you didn’t expect to find.

Back Roads and Rural Routes

When I was new to driving, one of my favorite things to do was to try and get lost. I would drive for hours and go places I had never been before. I explored back roads that I never knew existed. It is fascinating to me that I always found my way home. If you’re one who needs structured entertainment, then this may be a little lackluster for you. But if you’re open to serendipity, this may bring you fantastic adventures.

Non-Paved Roads

These don’t typically show up on maps, so these are usually spontaneous ventures. Be careful you don’t trespass. I once followed a gravel road for twenty miles (32km) into the mountains and found a place to setup one of my greatest camps ever. The quiet was exquisite.

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