RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Backroads of Southern California: Your Guide to Southern California's Most Scenic Backroad Adventures, by David M. Wyman

Backroads of Southern California
Backroads of Southern California, a new addition to Voyageur Press's Pictorial Discovery Guide series, does a remarkable job of capturing the road trip experience in book form. Southern California, which in this book includes everything from Coalinga in the north to the Mexican border in the south, is a roadtripper's paradise, and author David M. Wyman has chosen thirty routes that reveal the area's splendid diversity. Although I have been on just about every road he describes, his evocative prose and over 150 stunning photographs made me want to hit the road immediately to rediscover the Golden State.

It's all too easy to call photographs "stunning," but in this case the adjective is truly warranted. From wildflowers in the Antelope Valley to apple pies in Julian, every image is a work of art. Even weathered oil pipelines and abandoned pickup trucks become romantic through Wyman's lens, and when his subjects are mountain springs, wind-sculpted sand dunes, and monarch butterflies, the result is irresistibly riveting.

Wyman's photography tells enough of a story by itself that words are almost optional, but here's the great thing -- his words are just as good. For each of the routes he covers, Wyman weaves history, geology, flora, fauna, local events, and landmarks into a narrative that serves well both as a guide and as an armchair journey. These are remarkable journeys, too. The area he covers includes the highest point in the continental United States -- Mount Whitney at 14,495 feet -- to the lowest -- Badwater in Death Valley at 282 feet below sea level.

Well-drawn maps, historic photographs, and colorful quotations from other travel works and primary sources enhance Wyman's text and images. After reading Backroads of Southern California, I was left with a renewed appreciation for the region and a nagging desire to go get a few more kicks on Route 66 as well as all the other roads so beautifully portrayed in this excellent book.

Megan Edwards

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