You’ve probably considered road tripping in spring or fall, when brilliant floral or foliage displays entice us to fill up the tank and take a drive. But in winter, when famed rock formations are frosted with snow and America’s top national parks are crowd-free, you can experience the country’s iconic routes with less traffic and reduced lodging rates. Of course, driving in winter comes with its own caveats. “Always have one or two alternate routes at the ready should weather force a plan B,” advises Gabe Saglie, senior editor at Travelzoo. With that in mind, here are incredible drives across the country to experience this winter.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Tennessee and North Carolina

The scenic route along Interstate 40 and U.S. 321 through the Great Smoky Mountains, from Gatlinburg, Tennessee to Asheville, North Carolina, looks like a storybook setting out of Europe in winter, says Rebecca Warren, Lonely Planet’s eastern U.S. destination editor. “Incorporate the city of Gatlinburg for some kitschy fun, trading the road for the sky as you take the aerial tramway to get a great view across the mountains,” Warren says. And don’t miss hitting the trails when you need a break from the road. As for lodging, the LeConte Lodge offers high-end accommodations at a reasonable rate, with cabins (and two meals) available nightly for $140 per person through Nov. 22, 2016.

Big Bend National Park
Texas

Big Bend National Park offers plenty of striking landscapes to explore. “This enormous park is stunning, offering incomparable vistas across wide expanses of desert,” Warren says. “With more than 100 miles of paved roads, the winter offers pleasant temperatures that allow you to stop and take in some of the park’s fantastic hikes without having to deal with the triple-digit heat found here in summer,” she adds.

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