SUBSCRIBE NOW

Favorite scenic drives, hikes for social distancing

CR Rae
More Content Now USA TODAY NETWORK
Take in the snow-covered scenery at New River National Park in West Virginia.

We are still spending a lot of time at home, but by following the CDC’s guidelines, I have been able to safely get away from it all for a little while.

Here are some of my favorite things to do while practicing social distancing in a few states across our beautiful country.

West Virginia

Let’s start with the newest National Park and National Preserve in the U.S., New River Gorge in West Virginia. It has been a National River site since 1978, and now the 6,000 wild scenic acres are part of the National Park Service.

The park is known for its river rafting and high bridge, but during this time, it is one of my favorite places to just take a ride or a walk/hike. Even in the winter without the lush green leaves it offers beautiful scenery and backroads, especially after a fresh snow.

The 83-mile drive (approximately a three-hour trip) includes divided highways, interstates and two-lane roads that offer scenic views and ways to experience the park. With ruins, abandoned roads, coal mining and historic remnants of the many towns that once were along the river, it makes for an interesting day.

Visit nps.gov or newrivergorgecvb.com.

Florida

I love this place for a walk among the wild. Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge in DeLand, Florida, is a hidden gem. A wonderful place for bird enthusiasts as it is a migratory bird refuge. As you walk along you might have an otter cross your path, or view a turtle sleeping alongside a huge alligator on the bank of the wetlands. The 6.5-mile marsh loop is used for hiking, walking, nature trips and bird watching. I have never done the entire loop but by doing a short walk I have always seen plenty of wildlife. You have 3,400 acres of wild Florida to distance from others.

Visit fws.gov/lakewoodruff.

Arizona

One of my favorite drives and stops out West is the Hualapai Mountain Resort outside Kingman, Arizona. It is a place to get up close and personal with the mountain’s elk and deer that roam free around the resort area. The drive up the mountain is beautiful and scenic. One you have reached the resort you will find off-road and hiking trails. There are cabins for rent, and I find that a drive up the mountain and a meal at the restaurant after viewing the elk make for a nice day’s escape.

Visit hmresort.org for hours and directions.

Kentucky

Kentucky may be known for its bluegrass and bourbon, but I find it to be one of the most scenic and peaceful parts of our country. When taking leisurely rides through the countryside, the green pastures are dotted with thoroughbred horses behind the fences so iconic to the state.

One of my favorite places is the Old Frankfort Pike. The drive from Frankfort to Lexington travels through four National Historic areas on a 16.9-mile scenic byway trip. My favorite thing to do is to turn onto the country roads — no GPS, no map — and soak up the peaceful views. Eventually, I will end up somewhere!

Visit runthebluegrass.org for more information about the Pike.

When you are planning travel, visit websites for updated COVID-19 closures, restrictions, regulations and current hours when applicable.

Contact CR at crraetravel@gmail.com.