image of a woman feeling car sick

What Causes Car Sickness? Can It Be Prevented?

Do you have to squint and focus on a fixed point to avoid feeling carsick? If you’ve ever felt sick to your stomach from a bumpy ride, you’re not alone. Nearly everyone has experienced some version of motion sickness before. Rough seas nearly guarantee it.

While the symptoms will eventually stop, they can make traveling extremely uncomfortable, for both you and the people around you. If you’re planning your next vacation, you may want to know what causes this distressing disorder and what you can do to prevent it.

First, let’s find out what motion sickness actually is and what causes it.

What is motion sickness?

Motion sickness, also called airsickness, seasickness, and carsickness, can occur in a variety of different situations. It is caused by a conflict of different messages that the brain receives. It has a lot to do with how your inner ear perceives balance and motion.

Everyone has both an inner ear and an outer ear. The inner ear helps us with sound detection and balance while the outer ear is mostly responsible for hearing.

The cochlea helps convert sound pressures from the outer ear to electrochemical impulses that get passed on to the brain.

The vestibular system provides us with the sense of balance and space orientation necessary for coordinating movements (including position and acceleration) from second to second.

While you may already know that your inner ear is responsible for balance, you may not be aware that there are two different types of equilibrium:

Static Equilibrium is when the body is not moving. Receptors in the vestibular system send reports to the brain on the position of the head with respect to gravity when the body is not moving.

Dynamic Equilibrium is when the body is moving. Receptors pick up angular or rotary movements of the head and then send messages to your brain when there are any sudden movements. If you are moving at a constant rate, receptors will stop sending movement impulses to the brain. Impulses will start up again when you change speed or direction.

So, what does all of this have to do with feeling carsick?

If you are on a boat, car, or train, your eyes look around and experience mostly a static world. Your eyes notice that your body is just sitting there, not moving, and part of your vestibular system is corroborating the visual information. You also have pressure and sensory receptors on nerve endings that can contribute to the mixed messaging, called your proprioceptors.

Basically, your brain gets confused because it is receiving mixed signals from your visual, vestibular, and proprioceptive systems about your body and its position in space. Homeostasis gets upset and your body reacts as it would to toxins.

While your eyes are telling your brain that there is static equilibrium, the equilibrium receptors in the semicircular canals in your ear are crying out—MOVEMENT!

Both parts of your equilibrium system are sending contradictory messages to your brain. The brain, as the ultimate decision-maker, decides it’s going to do something—vomit.

Now that you know how the ears and eyes contribute to motion sickness, you can see why ear infections can produce nausea and dizziness. The ear infection messes up the equilibrium receptors and signals going to the brain.

You may also experience a similar motion sickness with flight simulators, video games, movies, microscopes, and even computers and smart phones. Sometimes, the term cybersickness is given to motion sickness associated with digital media.

Why does the driver rarely get carsick?

While the theoretical explanations are not entirely clear, there is a clear link between control of movement and the experience of motion sickness. The more control you have over the movement, the less motion sickness you feel.

How to Prevent Motion Sickness

Although there are many different remedies available, none are proven effective for everyone. It’s a matter of trial and error.

If you frequently experience motion sickness, try some of these common remedies to feel more comfortable.

  • If you are prone to motion sickness, limit your food intake before the trip. Don’t eat any spicy or greasy foods. If it’s a short trip, don’t eat anything except perhaps a small snack, such as crackers.
  • Stop the motion if you can and wait it out.
  • Remove one of the equilibrium signals going to your brain—close your eyes.
  • Focus on the horizon, giving your brain a static point of reference.
  • Don’t read or use phones and electronics. Limit your sensory input.
  • Distract yourself by singing songs, listening to music, and playing car games.
  • Sometimes air ventilation helps. Try opening up a window and getting rid of any strong odors. Again, limit as many sensory inputs as you can.
  • Some people recommend consuming some ginger (about 2 grams half an hour before travel) to help with motion sickness. While we don’t know if it helps any, it certainly can’t hurt.
  • If all else fails, use medication; but make sure to read to instructions and consult a doctor for any over-the-counter prescriptions. Take the medication before your trip. Antihistamine solutions include dimenhydrinate (Dramamine, TripTone), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), meclizine (Bonine), promethazine (Phenergan), chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton), and others. Be forewarned that many of these medications cause drowsiness and other side effects. Follow instructions carefully.

Usually, motion sickness subsides after around age 12. If you are driving with someone who is feeling carsick, pull the car over as soon as you can and have them walk around or lie down with their eyes closed.

Learn more tips and tricks before heading out on your next long car trip:

Auto Simple wants you to find a vehicle you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all with a 6 month/6,000-mile Powertrain Warranty.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call: 

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 472-2000

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

Follow us on social media for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining vehicles: FacebookTwitterYoutube, and Google+.

a hand filling fuel in a car

10 Bad Driving Habits That Are Damaging Your Vehicle

Once you buy a car, you’ll want to treat it properly. As the owner, you’re responsible for all repairs and maintenance. If you don’t want constant surprise trips to the mechanic, it’s important to learn some good driving habits. Even seasoned drivers are guilty of bad driving habits that cause unnecessary damage to their vehicle.

This wisdom applies to other aspects of our lives as well. You want to think about the long-term implications of your habits and behaviors. Today, it may not seem like any harm is being done, but over time, they can lead to major problems down the road.

Learn the top 10 worst driving habits and why you should avoid them.

10 Bad Driving Habits

  1. Driving on Low Fuel

You may think you are saving time and money by waiting until the fuel tank gets low to refill the tank, but in fact, the opposite is true. Most car manufacturers and mechanics recommend driving your vehicle on at least a quarter tank of gas.

The reasoning behind this is that when your tank is low, your car is pulling the gas from the bottom of the tank where the sediment from the gas has settled. This greatly increases the amount of sediment that gets transferred to your fuel line and filter. This can cause clogged lines, dirty filter, and sometimes engine trouble if the sediment slips past the filter.

Additionally, maintaining a full tank helps keep the tank and fuel pumps cool. The extra heat caused by an empty tank will increase wear and tear.

  1. Abrupt Braking and Accelerating

Are you the type of driver that stops suddenly at red lights, stop signs, and behind cars? When the light turns green, do you slam on the gas to leave others in the dust?

While it may be fun to put the pedal to the metal every once in a while, leave that kind of driving for the race track. Just because your vehicle can go to 0 to 60 in a couple seconds doesn’t mean you should. And those adroit brakes you are so proud of might not be so good for long if you are constantly hitting them hard.

If you have a heavy foot and are slamming on the brakes or acceleration, not only are you putting yourself at a higher risk of collision, you are also causing a lot of unnecessary strain and damage to your vehicle. Besides wearing out your brake pads and stressing your engine, you are also shortening the lifespan of your rotors and spending a lot more on fuel than you need to. Unless you really enjoy visits to the mechanic, refrain from hard starting and stopping.

Use light touches for acceleration and deceleration. If you step too much on the pedals, you’ll experience that jerking effect, most commonly associated with new drivers. At the same time, you want to avoid riding the brakes for too long. It may feel safer to have your foot on the brakes just in case you need to make a sudden stop, but what you’re actually doing is wearing out the brakes and building up heat, which can do damage to your pads, rotors, and braking capacity.

If you drive a manual transmission, shift to a lower gear when going downhill and use the engine braking to maintain a safe downhill speed.

  1. Revving the Engine

Revving the engine can do damage to your vehicle, but it also depends on the temperature of the engine. If you rev the engine before it has had time to warm up or the outside temperature is low, your car won’t have the necessary lubrication to protect your crucial car parts.

That’s why it’s a good idea to start your vehicle and let it idle for a little bit before stepping on the gas pedal, especially during colder weather. This will give the oil some time to circulate. Otherwise, you could be putting unnecessary wear and tear on your rings, valves, crankshaft, cylinder walls, bearings, and other parts that require lubrication. Those parts are extremely expensive to replace.

Furthermore, the sound of a revving engine does not sound as good to people on the street as much as you think. Unless you have an expensive sports car, not only will it not sound good, it is also completely unnecessary.

  1. Resting Hand on Shifter

If you drive a manual transmission, then you may have developed the bad habit of resting your hand on the shifter while driving. It does add a certain “cool” factor as we’ve all seen in movies and television shows. But while you may like the look and feel of it, the added weight on the shifter puts pressure on the transmission’s bushings and synchronizers.

You may not change your behavior hearing this, but when your transmission fails, you’ll wish you did.

  1. Not Deploying the Parking Brake

You have a parking brake (also called the emergency brake) for a reason. You should deploy your parking brake every time you park the car. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t. Be careful never to drive with the parking brake on.

Here is the proper procedure for setting the parking brake:

  1. Press on the brake pedal and come to a complete stop.
  2. While your foot is still on the brake pedal, set the parking brake.
  3. If you are on a steep hill, shift the transmission to neutral and allow the car to settle on the parking brake.
  4. Then shift the transmission into park and take your foot off the brake pedal.
  5. Once your parking brake is set and you’ve shifted the car into park, turn the car off.

Here is the proper procedure for releasing the parking brake:

  1. When starting your car back up, press down on the brake pedal and start the engine.
  2. With your foot still on the brake pedal, release the parking brake.
  3. Make sure the parking brake light goes off before shifting into “drive” (D) or another gear.

Get into the habit of setting the parking brake whenever you park, not just on steep hills. Don’t forget to release the parking brake before shifting into gear. Activating your parking brake will help prevent the weight of the vehicle from resting on the parking pawl. Also, if you are on a steep hill or another car hits yours while parked, there is much less chance of the car moving.

  1. Driving with Unnecessary Items

It’s important to have certain emergency items in the car, such as equipment to change your tire, but most drivers are driving around with unnecessary items that add a lot of weight to the vehicle. The more weight that you are carrying around, the harder your car has to work. This means worse handling and fuel economy in addition to unwanted stress on suspensions, brakes, and other important components.

So, take a look at this list of items you should always have in the car and get rid of anything else that you don’t need.

  1. Shifting from Reverse to Drive or Drive to Reverse Before a Complete Stop

Many times, when people are parallel parking, they shift from drive to reverse and vice versa without waiting for the car to come to a complete stop. This is a very bad habit that can cause irreversible damage to your drivetrain.

Take that extra half-second or so to make sure your car comes to a complete stop before shifting gears.

  1. Ignoring Warning Lights and Other Signs

Nobody wants to take their car to the mechanic, but ignoring vehicle warning lights and other signs can mean something a lot worse.

Pay attention to any strange or unusual sounds and sensations when driving your vehicle. Things like rattling, squeaking, and shaking can indicate a worn out parts or something even more serious. Don’t wait to find out. It’s best to take your car to a mechanic for an inspection so you can catch the problem early on.

  1. Filling Up with the Wrong Fuel

Many drivers have no idea which fuel type they should use. Some assume that the higher priced gasoline is better for their vehicle, while others assume there is no difference and go for the cheapest option instead.

The answer is very simple: consult your owner’s manual

Using the wrong octane rating can do damage to your engine. High compression engines usually require higher octane fuel to reduce “pinging” and “knocking.” Learn more about octane ratings and the implications for your vehicle.

  1. Not Maintaining Fluid Levels and Other Car Maintenance

As a driver, you should know how to check and change your oil and other fluids, in addition to taking care of your tires and other important car maintenance.

Learn the following car maintenance procedures to extend the lifespan of your vehicle and avoid accidents and blow-outs on the road:

Although this list should apply to most vehicles, you always want to check your owner’s manual for proper procedures. There should be a “correct use of the car” section or something similar.

If you are a new driver, take a driving course early so you don’t develop any of these bad habits. For seasoned drivers, breaking these habits can be difficult. Try to catch yourself before you make any of these common driver mistakes.

Auto Simple wants you to find a vehicle you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all with a 6 month/6,000-mile Powertrain Warranty.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 472-2000

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

Follow us on social media for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining vehicles: FacebookTwitterYoutube, and Google+.

a hand filling fuel in a car

What Gasoline Should I Use? | Octane Ratings & Your Car

With gasoline being as expensive as it is, many people want to know if it’s worth it to pay the extra money for mid-grade/plus, premium, or even super premium gasoline. Is it just a marketing gimmick?

What’s the Right Type of Fuel for My Vehicle?

Most gas stations offer a choice between 3 different octane levels:

  • Regular (85-88, usually 87)
  • Mid-Grade/Plus (88-90, usually 89)
  • Premium (91-93, usually 92)

Some gas stations offer additional octane grades with names like “special,” “plus,” and “super.” “Super premium” normally has an octane rating of 93.

So, which one should you use?

The answer is very simple: consult your owner’s manual! 

It’s so obvious, but many people don’t remember to check the manual before choosing the type of gasoline for the car. If it says regular (87), use regular. If it says premium (91), use premium. Contrary to common belief, octane ratings do not indicate how many miles you get per gallon or how much power the fuel delivers.

While higher prices normally indicate higher quality (“you get what you pay for”), in the case of gasoline, there is no increase in performance for engines that are designed to run on regular gas.

The different types of fuel are designed for different types of engines. The only difference separating the different gas grades is the amount of octane present in the fuel.

Recommended vs Required

Some car manufacturers “recommend” premium while others “require” premium. If it requires premium, definitely use it. Trying to save a couple of dollars at the pump is not worth the LARGE costs of engine damage and repair. Normally, only high-end, high-compression vehicles require premium gasoline.

If it only “recommends” premium, then you won’t do any damage by using regular gas, but you could get some better performance with “premium.” Consider using premium gas when you anticipate extra demand on the engine, such as driving up steep hills or pulling heavy weight.

If you wanted to save money, you can probably still fill up with regular gas most of the time. And at an extra 20-50 cents more, that’s around $200 more in your pocket every year.

What are octane ratings?

The fuel’s octane rating measures the fuel’s ability to withstand pressure and resist “knocking” or “pinging,” which can cause engine damage.

Knocking or pinging are noises that your engine makes when there is an uneven combustion in one or more of your car’s cylinders. When the piston moves up and compresses the fuel/air mixture, the spark plug is supposed to rapidly burn the fuel, which causes the piston to move down very fast.

Sometimes, however, there is a “pre-ignition” during the compression process which creates a small explosion. This normally happens when you have a high-compression engine with a low-octane fuel. This is bad and can cause the fire from the compression to collide with the fire from the spark plug. As a result, you may hear a “ping” if the fire is small enough, or a “knock” if it is big enough.

The image below shows the two “explosions” colliding to create a “pre-ignition” knock/ping:

This is why it’s important to check the owner’s manual/handbook. The recommended octane level will completely depend on the design of the engine. Higher octane fuel burns slower, reducing the chance of pinging or knocking in high-compression engines.

Don’t be too worried about small pings and light knocks. However, if you experience loud or heavy knocking using fuel with the recommended octane rating, see your authorized dealer to prevent any further damage to your engine.

Still, most cars are designed to run on regular gas. Anyone who says that premium gas will give you more mileage or power is living in a fantasy land. High-octane gas is basically a protection for high compression engines.

What is a knock-sensor?

Most cars nowadays (1997 or later) contain a knock-sensor that detects the compression detonation and delays the spark to minimize knocking/pinging. While this is good for protecting your engine from “pre-ignition” knocking, in higher performance vehicles, the spark delay gives you less power and worse mileage.

Again, it’s simple: use the octane level specified by your owner’s manual.

Does premium gas help cleanse my engine?

You may hear the claim that premium and high-octane gas contains more detergents and therefore can help clean your engine. While premium gas may contain more detergents, regular gasoline has more than enough detergents to keep your engine clean.

If you have a noticeably dirty engine, then use one of the many great engine additives on the market.

Is there a difference between gas from different brands?

While there are no really good studies that validate quality claims of different brands of gasoline, there is indeed a difference. In fact, if you are looking to improve your MPG, you’ll find much more success trying a different brand rather than a higher octane level.

The main difference between different brands of gasoline are the contents of the additives. In 2004, some large car manufacturers were unhappy with the amount of deposits in their engines so they got together to create new gasoline standards. These standards are stricter than the federal Environmental Protection Agency standards and are given the name “Top Tier” gas.

They contain an enhanced additive package that includes antioxidants, oxygenates, and corrosion inhibitors.

Some gas stations only sell “Top Tier” gas: 76, Chevron, CITGO, Costco Gasoline, Exxon, Mobil, QT, Shamrock, Shell, Sinclair, Texaco, and Valero.

Here’s the full list of Top Tier Detergent Gasoline Licensed Brands.

If you drive a high-end car and don’t want any deposits to build up, you should probably use Top Tier fuel most of the time. Still, you can usually get rid of any carbon deposits with a few bottles of engine cleaner.

In conclusion, unless you want to increase the portfolios of the super-rich, check your owner’s manual for the recommended gasoline octane level and don’t spend any extra money on higher octane fuels.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Auto Simple.

Learn more car maintenance tips.

Auto Simple wants you to find a vehicle you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all with a 6 month/6,000-mile Powertrain Warranty.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call: 

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 472-2000

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

Follow us on social media for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining vehicles: FacebookTwitterYoutube, and Google+.

a couple reading a map in a car

Top 5 Road Trips in America | Plan a USA Road Trip!

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”

– John Muir, The Yosemite (1912)

Get your motor runnin’ and head out on the highway. Adventure awaits on these uniquely American road trips.

From purple mountain majesties to alabaster cities, America has some of the best landscapes and roadways in the world. The vast, sprawling scenery has inspired many great works of art, philosophy, science, and of course, epic road trips.

If you’re yearning for a new, beautiful, and intrinsically patriotic experience, channel your inner Jack London/Kerouac and start planning your next great American Road Trip. To help, here’s our list of the best road trips and destinations in America. Get lost!

A couple tips before we begin:

  • Leave yourself plenty of time for spontaneous trips and longer-than-expected stays
  • Stock your vehicle with the essentials (and non-essentials)
  • Check/change your fluids and tires, and get your vehicle ready for the trip.
  • Obtain paper maps (maps and guides can be found at your local AAA)
  • Speaking of AAA, consider purchasing roadside assistance
  • Play fun car games
  • Make sure you have a suitable vehicle
  • Drive on America’s National Scenic Byways if you can
  • Plan your route (log in to Google and click “Create Map” in “Maps”)
  • Bring binoculars

The best time for a road trip is between spring and fall. You may want to wait until October for annual fall foliage displays. Double check peak fall color times to make sure. And always check road and weather conditions.

  1. Great Smoky Mountain Road Trip

  • Start: Chattanooga, TN
  • Visit:
    • Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, TN
    • Raccoon Mountain Caverns in Chattanooga, TN
    • Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, TN
    • Chattahoocee National Forest
    • Nantahala National Forest
    • Mountain Farm Museum and Qualla Arts and Crafts in Cherokee, NC
    • Cataloochee Valley (Hannah Cabin) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
    • Boogerman Trail loop
    • Big Witch Overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway
    • Devil’s Courthouse overlook trail off the Blue Ridge Parkway
    • North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, NC
    • Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC
    • Jack of the Wood, a Celtic-style bar in Asheville, NC

End: Asheville, NC

As Tennessee natives ourselves, it’s hard not to be inspired by the wild beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. One of the most popular national parks in the country, the Great Smoky Mountains attracts millions of visitors every year. And rightly so. Don’t be afraid to wander.

If you live near Chattanooga, Cleveland, or Dayton, as we do, you’ll want to pass through the Chattahoochee and Nantahala National Forests and enter the Great Smoky Mountains from the Cherokee, NC entrance. If you’re on the eastern side of the park, start in Asheville, NC.

It’s not a very long road trip, more of a weekend trip, but if you are taking a road trip anywhere in Tennessee, be sure to include the Smokies on your list. Most visitors enter through the Gatlinburg–Pigeon Forge into the park, but a better entrance might be the quieter North Carolina entrance through Maggie Valley and into Cherokee.

The views and wildlife are stunning. You may even be lucky enough to witness the famous blue haze associated with the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. Make the trip in May or June and the skyline often has a deep pink and/or red glow.

As you wind your way through the scenery, it will seem to change by the minute—rolling valleys, spring wildflowers, soft fog, dense forests, steep mountains, and occasional log cabins and grist mills. Don’t be afraid to pull over along lookout points, such as Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park, and the popular Chimney Tops picnic area. Just watch out for the black bears!

After a few days in nature, we recommend taking the gorgeous Blue Ride Parkway (an amazing road trip on its own) from Cherokee to Asheville (or vice versa if you are entering from that side).

Watch this video to learn more about Clingmans Dome and the Great Smoky Mountains:

  1. The Blues Highway Road Trip 

  • Start: Memphis, TN
  • Visit:
    • Graceland and B.B. King’s Blues Club in Memphis, TN
    • Blues and Legends Hall of Fame in Tunica, MS
    • The Hollywood Café and/or Blue & White Restaurant in Tunica, MS
    • Devil’s Crossroads in Clarksdale, MS
    • Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, MS
    • Hopson Plantation, Cat Head, and Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, MS
    • White Front Café in Rosedale, MS
  • End: New Orleans, LA

Take a ride on the Blues Highway (US 61), Bob Dylan’s famous Highway 61 that runs from Wyoming, Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana, to experience a unique musical journey. We begin our trip in Memphis. From there, you’ll travel to the same towns and juke joints as Bessie Smith, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, Elvis, and other legends once did.

Following the course of the Mississippi River all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, there’s plenty to hear, see, and taste on this road trip. Start in Memphis and hit up one of the hundreds of amazing Memphis-style barbecue joints. Some local favorites are Tops Bar-B-Q, Corky’s Ribs & BBQ, and Leonard’s Pit Barbecue. Stay the night at the historic Peabody Hotel (or just visit for a drink). And don’t forget about Graceland!

After a day or two in Memphis, head to the Blues and Legends Hall of Fame in Tunica, Just 40 minutes away, our next stop is Clarksdale, the birthplace of Muddy Waters and deathplace of Bessie Smith. Visit the intersection of Highway 61 and Highway 49, which is said the be “The Crossroads” where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil for his musical talent. For a great live music experience, make sure to check out who’s playing at Cat Head and Ground Zero Blues Club. Nearby is the Delta Blues Museum.

After Clarksdale, you can choose a variety of different options. We recommend getting on the quieter Highway 1 (part of The Great River Road National Scenic Byway—a great road trip by itself), which runs along the Mississippi River’s “Great Wall.” There are lots of beautiful stops along the way, including the Trotter Landing ghost town. Stop for hot tamales at White Front Café in Rosedale.

As your trip approaches the end, don’t miss all the sites and entertainment in Vicksburg. The Vicksburg National Military Park and the Old Courthouse Museum are top attractions, but you’ll definitely want to stop to visit Margaret’s Grocery. It’s no longer a country market, but rather a sort of “voodoo” Christian cathedral, one of the most unique places of worship in the country.

End the trip in New Orleans and enjoy great live blues and everything the city has to offer. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

  1. The Ozarks Road Trip

  • Start: Fort Smith, Arkansas
  • Visit:
    • Devil’s Den State Park in West Fork, AR
    • Roaring River State Park in Cassville, MO
    • Mark Twain National Forest in Rolla, MO
    • Silver Dollar City in Branson, AR
    • Mystic Caverns in Harrison, AR
    • Buffalo National River near Harrison, AR
    • Cosmic Cavern in Barryville, AR
    • Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, AR
    • Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, AR
    • Onyx Cave Park in Eureka Springs, AR
    • Great Passion Play (May through October) in Eureka Springs, AR
    • Ozark Cafe in Jaspers, AR
    • The Inn at Mountain View Bed and Breakfast
  • End: Rogers, AR

Start your trip in northwest Arkansas at the Fort Smith National Historic Site and visit the museum. Then follow a loop, up toward Eureka Springs, into Missouri, and then back down into Arkansas to Mountain View, Jasper, and on to Rogers, AR.

Take the Scenic Byway 7, a 300-mile-long north/south state highway for beautiful views of lakes, rivers, and mountains. Check out the other National Scenic Byways in Arkansas.

Whatever you’re looking for in a road trip—roadside attractions, outdoor adventure, a happy family—you’ll find in the Ozarks, which means “toward Arkansas.” The most mountainous region between the Appalachians and the Rocky Mountains, it’s known for scenic drives bathed in moonlight and is surrounded by deciduous trees and some of the nation’s most beautiful waterways.

Sometimes referred to as the Ozark Mountains or Ozark Mountain Country, it basically covers the entire northwestern and north central region of Arkansas and much of the southern half of Missouri.

Wind down the roadway during the fall foliage season and you’ll be witness to the spectacular display of shifting saffron and various shades of red, purple, black, pink, magenta, yellow, orange, and brown. Driving through the beauty of the Ozarks, replete with songbirds and deer, is a distinctly American experience not to be missed.

  1. The Borderlands, TX

  • Start: Fort Stockton
  • Visit:
    • Carlsbad Caverns
    • Davis Mountain
    • Museum of Big Bend in Alpine
    • Hotel Paisano in Marfa
    • Chinati Foundation in Marfa
    • The Food Shark in Marfa
    • Ghost town of Shafter
    • River Road
  • End: Big Bend National Park

You may recognize this area when you come to it. The landscape has been used as the backdrop for some big Hollywood movies like No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood.

With spectacular canyons, mountain, and rivers, the Big Bend region seems to come from a different planet. The borderland is characterized by huge space-bending skies, rugged mountains, grassland, and large swaths of desert. It is often compared to African landscapes due to its terrain and wildlife.

The borderland trip starts in Fort Stockton, an old oil town, and progresses to Alpine, a gateway to Big Bend National Park, and through to the artsy and spiritual town of Marfa. From there ride through Paisano Pass and to the ghost town of Shafter. After that, cruise down the beautiful River Road (FM-170) to Study Butte. The overlooking views are some of the best this country has to offer.

The Big Bend region contains over one million acres of public land, including Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. End the trip in Big Bend National Park. If you are just driving through, be sure to take Basin Road into the Chisos mountain range. Replenish yourself at Gage Hotel in the tiny town of Marathon, one of the filming locations for Wim Wenders’ movie Paris, Texas.

  1. Highway 89 National Park Road Trip

  • Start: Tumacacori National Historical Park, AZ
  • Visit:
    • Saguaro National Park, AZ
    • Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
    • Zion National Park, UT
    • Kolob Canyon Road, UT
    • Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
    • Capital Reef National Park, UT
    • Arches National Park, UT
    • Canyonlands National Park, UT
    • Yellowstone National Park, WY, MO, ID
  • End: Yellowstone National Park, MO

U.S. Highway 89 passes through 5 states and 7 national parks, clearly making it the longest of all the road trips on the list. If you’re not in a rush, the entire trip is definitely worth. Don’t worry though, you can choose to do one state or a small portion.

If you do choose one state, however, make it Utah. The surreal, Martian landscape of canyons, hoodoos, alcoves, and arches make it unlike anywhere else on Earth. If you make it one park, go with Yellowstone National Park.

U.S. 89 starts in Flagstaff, Arizona and proceeds north, passing near the Grand Canyon National Park, the second of the seven national parks along the way. Once you hit Utah, be sure to spend some time in the Zion National Park and the Bryce Canyon National Park.

The highway proceeds into Idaho around Bear Lake. In Wyoming and Montana, you have Yellowstone National Park, which should be on everybody’s bucket list.

Click here for a collection of posts to help you plan your Highway 89 road trip.

The Best Road Trip (According to Science)

If you are looking for the most efficient route for visiting all of the nation’s best landmarks, some scientists (Randy Olson and Tracy Staedter) have generated the “perfect” map that does just that. It hits all 48 states in the contiguous U.S. and all the major U.S. landmarks, ideal for traveling by car.

How to Survive a Road Trip

America is a force of nature. You have to be prepared for nearly anything when you go on any of these road trips, especially if you have children. Precipitation, cold temperatures, and thick clouds are common at the top of mountains while dry weather and hot temperatures will meet you at some of the country’s lowest points. Dress in layers and make sure you have plenty of water and essential safety items in your car.

Most of all, have fun!

Don’t hesitate to ask our team members for their road trip tips! We love driving our cars as much as we do selling them.

If you want the perfect road trip vehicle, stop by one of our locations for a reliable Certified Pre-Owned car, truck, or SUV. We’ll set you up with the car of your dreams at a price you can afford.

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 472-2000

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Dalton, GA – (706) 217-2277

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