I confess. I love rivers. I love bicycles. I love art. I love music. I love my dog. But I REALLY love my 4-wheel drive Jeep Grand Cherokee, which I've already driven almost 180,000 miles.
I confess. I grew up in car culture in a small GM town in the midwest. When I got my driver's license, it was the symbol of freedom ~ I could finally get on the open road and explore miles of backcountry and quaint little villages.
I still like getting out on the open road. I do my best creative thinking while I'm driving. My trusty Jeep and I have visited all terrains from jeep trails in the Sierra Nevada to the beaches of Mexico.
The great sadness of modern America is that, due to population density, there is no longer any open road or fun in driving through Los Angeles' alphabet freeways (5-405-110-60-710-605-210-10-134, etc).
So you can imagine my excitement when I learned that the fabulous Angeles Crest Highway was finally re-opening after 3+ years of closure due to landslides.
Before romancing about ACH, I want to give kudos to Caltrans who constructed an unbelievably difficult connection bridge that should be immune to future landslides. You can read about this great engineering feat here: http://bit.ly/QI3aS.
The Angeles Crest Highway's western leg starts in La Canada-Flintridge and wanders into the Angeles National Forest along the magnificent Arroyo Seco River (the same one that becomes an urban channel from Pasadena south to Downtown). It continues 66 miles through the Forest to Wrightwood where it connects with Angeles Forest Highway that ultimately descends down into the Antelope Valley. It's a scenic drive extraordinaire and has long been popular with motorcyclists and road trip car buffs.
I first remember driving this terrific road (disclosure: for serious drivers only ~ it's a two-lane road with lots of twists and turns) over 25 years ago with my family, taking the desert route to its eastern leg in Wrightwood where we spent the day skiiing.
When I lived in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Kernville, one of my favorite outings was a road trip through the forest. Now, I'm excited that I can begin the same type of road trip with a starting point less than 8 miles from where I currently live.
Orignally envisioned as a fire safety road into the forest to provide access to Edison powerlines, the Angeles Crest Highway was championed by both Arroyo Seco and San Gabriel River leaders as a scenic highway that would follow the rivers into the forest. Ulimately, the Arroyo Secons won and construction became in 1941 with completion in 1956.
Along the way, road lovers can stop at Red Box (near the source of the Arroyo Seco), Mount Wilson's Observatory, numerous picnic areas and, of course, the ski resorts that surround Wrightwood. When traveling in the forest, it's always important to drive for safety. That means carrying chains (yes, even in summer!), plenty of water, blankets, flashlights, and canned/packed food, in case car trouble strands your vehicle overnight. This is an adventure road, so don't count on your cellphone working. That's why it's important to stay on or near the road during your first drive through it.
Best of all, what a great inexpensive summer nature vacation Angeles Crest Highway offers!
Don't forget your Forest passes, though. You will be ticketed by rangers, I promise. Details here:
So ~ get your motors running and head out on the highway with your family for spectacular scenery, interesting stopping points, and a day-trip that won't break your wallet.