My Dad’s Epic 1961 Road Trip Across America

I’m continuing my blog series on my dad’s childhood photos. Back in 1961 when he was a teenager, my dad took a road trip with his parents across the United States from New Jersey to California. It was an epic journey that hit many of the iconic destinations of midcentury America.

The Trip:
My dad and his parents started their adventure in New Jersey and drove west across the country on the open roads of 1961. This was well before the interstate highway system connected every corner of America, so they took their time traveling on two-lane highways and backroads. With far less traffic than we have today, they were really able to take in the scenery along the way.

Some of the highlights of their trip included visits to:
– Tornados
– Bear sightings out West
– The Petrified Forest National Park to see the fossilized wood
– The Grand Canyon and its awe-inspiring views
– A quick detour south of the border to Tijuana, Mexico

They also encountered some classic Americana like roadside motor lodges, diners, drive-in movie theaters, and early visionary attractions like Mystery Spots. It was a more innocent era of family road trips before cell phones and constant connectivity.

One of the biggest differences from today was how empty and uncongested the national parks were.

Looking back at my dad’s all-American road trip, it represents a simpler time of travel and adventure.  In just one summer, he’d seen some of the most incredible sights of the country in a way that can never be replicated today. I’m so glad we have these photos and memories to look back on.

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