Take advantage of cheap gas with outdoors

Take advantage of cheap gas with outdoors

The plummeting price of gasoline has made this winter prime time for an outdoors inspired road trip.

With the exception of cheap jerseys a couple of months in 2008, drivers haven’t enjoyed gasoline so cheap across the continent in 10 years. have decreased nearly 60 percent since late June. A gallon of unleaded regular averaged $1.96 at stations in Missoula this week.

Reschedule the family vacation or call in sick. Make sure the tires are appropriate and stock your vehicle with winter travel survival gear including sleeping bags. Head out and save hundreds of dollars on travel costs for driving wherever your heart desires, whether it’s for surf, sun, nature or snow.

Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim north of Flagstaff, Arizona, is a base for an assortment of fun along The Big Ditch. Eye popping strolls include the 1.3 mile Trail of Time, with markers to help put geological time in perspective as you walk sometimes precariously close to the canyon rim.

Hiking from January to April has advantages here fewer people, cooler temperatures. Day hike down toward the Colorado River and back or haul a backpack and stay put to relish the reddish bowels of geological history. It’s nearly 10 miles down through five life zones from the South Rim by way of the famous Bright Angel Trail to the developed backpacker http://www.cheapjerseys11.com/ campground at Phantom Ranch. (Mule packers can be hired to haul your gear.) The route is shorter but steeper via the Kaibab Trail.

Spectacular backcountry sites also are available. Explore the Tonto Plateau Trail, which contours at a middle elevation of the canyon for views up and down the canyon walls.

Bring Yaktrax or other devices that attach to boots for traction on ice that coats shady stretches of upper trails. But if you head into the canyon, you might be peeling off layers as you descend and find yourself in T shirt weather along the river at least until the sun starts dipping.

Wintering elk are popular with visitors to the South Rim. Stargazers venture away from the lights at elevation 7,000 feet along the rim for wide horizon, crystal clear views of the heavens.

Inside scoop: Find quieter, less crowded attractions at various sites along the Grand Canyon, which flanks the Colorado River for 277 miles, save for some interruptions with Native American lands. For example, Lee’s Ferry, where most rafting trips begin, has excellent hiking trails, camping and insights into Mormon history. California condors nest in this area.

Canada’s Powder Highway

Distance: About 800 miles

The moniker has been a great marketing success for a driving circuit that links eight mountain resorts through interior British Columbia. But the scenery along Canada’s Powder Highway is even better.

This road trip into the Columbia Range and Canadian Rockies has more mountains of eye candy than the Golden Globes after parties.

Head north to Cranbrook and take a spur trip to Fernie Alpine Resort, known for abundant snowfall and skiing in five open bowls.

The chance of finding world class slopes doesn’t deteriorate as you head farther north. Sample Kimberley ski area and Panorama near Invermere. You may be tempted for another side trip to Lake Louise Ski area for more stunning scenery in Banff National Park.

Then prepare to sip the champagne of powder resorts near Golden, British Columbia. Visit the mostly expert runs of Kicking Horse and then to Revelstoke, which boasts the longest lift served terrain in North America and whopping 5,620 vertical feet. Its longest run, Last Spike, winds down the mountain for 9.5 miles.

Revelstoke claims to be the only resort worldwide to offer lift, cat, heli and backcountry skiing from one village base.

Spice the return trip through the West Kootenays with visits to the trendy lakeside town of Nelson. Drive up to Whitewater, which Powder Magazine has called “one of the best powder mountains on the continent.”

Then before returning to the USA, turn off in Rossland to pillage the snowy slopes of Red Mountain.

Inside scoop: In addition to the a eight alpine resorts, there are 56 other ski operators including nine heli ski operators, 16 snowcat guides and 21 backcountry ski touring outfitters to serve winter enthusiasts along Canada’s Powder Highway. Choose companions wisely: Anyone in the car with a DUI record may not be allowed through Canadian customs.

Stormy Oregon Coast

Distance: About 1,300 miles

Waves and whales are major winter attractions to the Oregon Coast.

Catch sight of great gray whales on their southern migration from the Bering Sea to the warm waters of Baja. Peak viewing occurs from mid December through January and then in spring, peaking around late March when mother whales parade their calves along the coast from Mexico to summer pastures near Alaska.

Travel Oregon pinpoints 24 designated whale watching spots, including Oregon’s famous coastal state parks, for best views. Check out the Whale, Sea Life and Sharks Museum in Depot Bay.

Winter is also storm watching season, when Pacific weather whips the surf to beach pounding proportions. Hiking routes lead to many spectacular viewpoints. (Lighthouses are likely destinations.) Always stay well away from winter surf for safety.

Or book a beach side room perhaps at Whaleshead Beach Resort and watch it all from fireside.

Winter’s higher water levels on coastal rivers, bays and estuaries improve wildlife and bird watching from a kayak. If you don’t have your own boat, join a wildlife watching and hot apple cider tour with Kayak Tillamook.

Inside scoop: While watching winter storms is exhilarating, the calm weather that follows is ripe for agate hunting and beachcombing on freshly scoured sands.