It’s not where you’re going, it’s how you get there.
This statement couldn’t be more true than when it comes to road trips. Road trips are where memories are made out of nothing and adventures are found in the middle of nowhere. Regardless of where you’re going, road trips serve the purpose of supplying time. With that time, adventurous spirits are awoken, and spontaneity occurs in the places you least expect. It’s this same spontaneity that inspired some of our favorite adventurers, such as Huck from Huckleberry Finn or Bill Bryson, author of A Walk in the Woods. Below details 5 literary road trips that follow the footsteps of your favorite adventures. Grab your backpack, put in your audiobook, and be on your way!
1.) Into the Wild
Into the Wild is a non-fiction book by Jon Krakuer about Christopher McCandless, a recent college graduate from Emory University that decides to rid of his assets and live off the grid. Starting in Atlanta, McCandless drives west until he ends up in Lake Mead in Nevada. He spends some time exploring the Mountain West by visiting Lake Tahoe, the Cascade Mountains, and the lava beds of the Columbia River.
Chris finds himself in Topock, AZ where he buys a canoe and floats his way through Lake Havasu until he reaches the Morelos Dam and the Mexico Border. He returns to the Grand Canyon, and hitchhikes back to Las Vegas. McCandless then makes his way up to Sushana River, Alaska, where he spends the remainder of his life.
This road trip explores the western United States in its full glory. If you want the complete experience, start in Atlanta, Georgia, otherwise Lake Mead will suffice. Odds are you’ll be spending a lot of time outside, so be sure to pack your adventure gear including hiking backpacks, and good hiking shoes. Plan day or overnight trips that involve floating the Colorado River, backpacking in the Cascade Mountains and fishing in Alaska. Regardless, you’ll be bound to meet some awesome people along the way!
- People who love being outside
- People who have 2-3 consecutive free months
2.) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an infamous adventure novel by Mark Twain. Published in 1884, the story is about Huck Finn, who escapes the confines of his drunken father’s cabin and goes down the river. He meets up with Jim, a slave from his hometown. Jim and Huck have a series of adventures and encounters as they raft down the Mississippi River.
If you can’t build a raft and float down the river, taking this road trip is the next best thing. While the locations are not always specified in the book, the following stops will take you in a similar direction and make for an entertaining road trip. Start by visiting the Mark Twain Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri. Continue to relive Huck Finn and experience southern culture by making your way down the Mississippi river visiting Cairo, IL, Osceola, AR, Memphis, TN and southeast Arkansas. Be sure to stop by the Dale Bumpers White River National Wildlife Refuge for some unique hikes.
- River Rats
- History Teachers
3. Little House on the Prairie
Little House on the Prairie is a series of American children’s novels written by Laura Ingalls Wilder about her experience growing up on the American Frontier. The series consists of nine books with stories ranging from life on the prairie, traveling in a covered wagon, communicating with Native Americans, and interactions with other settlers.
The series starts in Wisconsin, where Pa Ingalls sells their house due to news of new frontier available in the midwest. The family travels to Independence, Kansas, where they settle. Several years later, the family returns to Wisconsin then Minnesota and eventually makes their way out to South Dakota to work at a railroad camp.
This road trip takes you across the midwest, starting in Independence, Kansas, traveling to Pepin, Wisconsin, Walnut Grove, Minnesota, and ending in De Smet, South Dakota without the dangers of cowboys, scarlet fever and never-ending blizzards. Be sure to stop in Kansas City and Des Moines, hidden gems with a surprising amount of activity and great people. Spend a night or two camping on the shore of one of Minnesota’s many lakes and make time to hike the bluffs of the Mississippi River.
- History Buffs
- People who like corn fields.
4. On the Road
On the Road by Jack Kerouac is a defining work of the postwar beat culture. The novel is largely autobiographical, featuring Sal Paradise as an alter ego of Jack Kerouac and Dean Moriarty depicting the personality of Neal Cassady. The novel takes places in the years 1947 to 1950, and is split into five parts, three of them describing road trips Sal and Dean had taken together. The epic nature of the adventures and Kerouac’s poetic words combine to create not only one of the most pivotal novels of the 20th century, but a book that inspires adventure in everyone.
This road trip maps the 4th section of the book, which takes place in spring of 1950 when Sal travels from New York to Mexico City by the way of Denver, meeting up with Dean and friend Stan Shephard along the way. This road trip takes you through major cities including Washington D.C., Louisville, St. Louis, Kansas City, Denver, San Antonio and Mexico City. Be prepared to experience all the joys I70 has to offer such as the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, and the countless adventures bound to happen when driving through Mexico.
- Spontaneous People
- People with Passports
5. A Walk in the Woods
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson is an humorous yet inspiring and educational account of his attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail. The story starts with Bill and his friend Stephen Katz preparing for the trek, and their experiences hiking the first bits of the trail starting in Georgia. After making their way to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, they reevaluate their goals and decide to skip a chunk of the trail and start again in Roanoke, Virginia. After 800 miles, the two return to their lives, only to reunite for the Hundred-Mile Wilderness in Maine.
This road trip takes you on a condensed (and driveable) version of the Appalachian Trail through some of the best national parks and forests on the east coast such as the Chattahoochee National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah National Park, and the Green Mountains.
- Avid Hikers
- People who want to see wild bears.