After gazing upon the Grand Canyon for the first time, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt commanded that we leave it as it was, that we could not improve it: “The ages have been at work on it,” he said, “and man can only mar it.”
Thanks to him, and the millions of young men he employed through the Civilian Conservation Corps, every road-going American of the early 20th century could not just enjoy the spectacular imagery of the National Parks, but the journey of getting there, too. In those days, there were no interstate or freeway systems, but a collection of unimproved and unconnected roads. Through efforts of the Automobile Club, and others, early park goers created a roadway informally called “The National Park-to-Park Highway System.”
I like to call travel by these means “backroading,” the old roads like seasonal creeks and streams that meander and wander the forgotten tracks that move with the land as it rises and falls and curves. These are the roads that take us to the places in between. They reveal not just how technology and progress have changed the physical landscape, but we as movers as well. With the rise and importance of the highway interstate system, I was reminded of the Disney-Pixar animated classic, Cars, where Sally Carrera explained to Lightning McQueen that, “Cars didn’t drive on it [the interstate] to make great time. They drove on it to have a great time.”
These thoughts were some of the inspiration for my trip through Utah, “Backroading It,” where I drove a 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD in search of windy roads, a Mark Twain-era Mormon Whiskey, known as “Valley Tan,” and of course, for ambulatory adventure in Utah’s National Parks.
I came away with a profound understanding of the National Parks as “America’s Best Idea.”
But was it? Follow the link for the full story.