One of the greatest parts about living in the United States is having the chance to hit the ol’ dusty trail among the most beautiful scenery the world has to offer. No matter where you call home, you don’t have to travel too far before you find your gateway to the great outdoors. So, hop in the car, pop on some tunes, and check out the top 10 scenic country drives in the USA.
Red River Gorge Scenic Byway – Kentucky
This road winds along for 46 miles through the heart of Kentucky. It’s a quick little drive, but it has some fascinating stone archways and other natural rock formations, and it even has a 900-foot-long tunnel that was originally built for railroads. The whole area is a great spot to do some backpacking or canoeing.
Talimena National Scenic Byway – Oklahoma
This road travels for 54 miles through the southeastern part of Oklahoma. It’s beautiful in all four seasons, but it’s definitely the most beautiful in the fall. The landscape is made up of endless rolling hills, and they’re all densely forested. It was actually the vibrant colors bursting out of the autumn leaves that inspired the creation of this drive in the first place.
Blue Ridge Parkway – Virginia and North Carolina
This road through the Appalachians is 469 miles of pure beauty. It starts next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and then it heads all the way up to Shenandoah National Park. As you travel through the forested mountains, you’ll take in old-fashioned farms, gorgeous meadows, and views spectacular enough to make it clear why so much inspiring music has come out of the region.
Big Bend National Park – Texas
Big Bend National Park brings you into the Texas of your dreams, but the landscape is far from a standard desert scene. There is a diverse selection of incredible rock formations, and the park has more than 100 miles of paved roads with multiple routes to let you soak in the amazing geologic wonders. If you’re not careful, you’ll start to feel like a settler of the old west, and you might just lay claim to some land to set up your homestead.
Big Sky Back Country Byway – Montana
If you really want to get away from it all, head up to Big Sky Back Country Byway in Montana. This road takes you 105 miles between the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers, and it has plenty of opportunities for fishing and big-game hunting to add some spice to your trip. You’ll realize that the sky really does feel bigger in Montana.
Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway – South Dakota
Badlands National Park is home to some of the most scenic landscapes that you’ll ever come across. This drive only goes 31 miles, but it has no shortage of amazing rock formations spread along the path. Make sure you stop off at every scenic overlook, and plan for some extra time to go hiking through what feels like an alien landscape.
Beartooth Scenic Highway – Wyoming
This road started its life back in 1931, and it’s no surprise that it’s often said to be one of the most beautiful roads in America. It’s the highest paved primary road in Wyoming, and it winds through multiple national forests, passes glaciers, and offers countless other gorgeous views. It’s closed to cars during the snowy winter months, but you can still explore it on a snowmobile!
Great River Road – Ten Different States
The mighty Mississippi is one of the most influential waterways in American history, and this epic road allows drivers to realize the immense scale of the river. The road stretches for more than 2,000 miles, and it deserves at least a week to see it properly. If you don’t have time for it all, it’s worth taking the condensed National Scenic Byway route that only passes through about half of the states.
Highway 12 Scenic Byway – Utah
It’s not a mistake that Utah is a destination for outdoor lovers from around the world, and this road takes drivers through the heart of it. It starts and ends at two different National Parks, and it passes through an absurd number of formations, parks, and other areas worth exploring. There’s really just too much to say about this one, so the only thing to do is get out there and see for yourself.
Peak to Peak Scenic Byway – Colorado
This one may top the list because of a slight bias towards the beauty of Colorado, but can you blame us? This drive outside of Estes Park is Colorado’s oldest scenic byway, and it was established in 1918. It passes through Aspen groves and the remnants of old mines, and you can even stop to try your luck with a bit of gold panning in one of the creeks. You can stretch out the roughly 3-hour trip by sidetracking into one of the many mining ghost towns, or you can do a little hiking on one of the amazing peaks that you’ll feel dwarfed by. No matter what, you’re going to feel a little closer to Heaven in the Rocky Mountain air.
Bentley and Luke Bryan will host the awards from the MGM Grand Garden Area in Las Vegas; Sunday April 3rd at 8pm ET on CBS. (Broadcast will be delayed for the West Cost)
Entertainer of the Year
- Jason Aldean
- Garth Brooks
- Luke Bryan
- Eric Church
- Miranda Lambert
Male Vocalist of the Year
- Jason Aldean
- Eric Church
- Brett Eldredge
- Chris Stapleton
- Dierks Bentley
Female Vocalist of the Year
- Kelsea Ballerini
- Jana Kramer
- Miranda Lambert
- Kacey Musgraves
- Carrie Underwood
New Male Vocalist of the Year
- Brett Eldredge
- Chris Janson
- Thomas Rhett
- Chase Rice
- Chris Stapleton
New Female Vocalist of the Year
- Kelsea Ballerini
- Mickey Guyton
Album of the Year
- “I’m Comin’ Over” – Chris Young
- “Montevallo” – Sam Hunt
- “Mr. Misunderstood” – Eric Church
- “Tangled Up” – Thomas Rhett
- “Traveller” – Chris Stapleton
Vocal Group of the Year
- Eli Young Band
- Little Big Town
- Old Dominion
- Rascal Flatts
- Zac Brown Band
Vocal Duo of the Year
- Brothers Osbourne
- Dan + Shay
- Florida Georgia Line
- Joey + Rory
- Maddie & Tae
New Vocal Duo or Group of the Year
- A Thousand Horses
- Brothers Osborne
- Maddie & Tae
- Old Dominion
Single Record of the Year
- “Burning House” – Cam
- “Buy Me a Boat” – Chris Janson
- “Die A Happy Man” – Thomas Rhett
- “Girl Crush” – Little Big Town
- “I’m Comin’ Over” – Chris Young
- “Take Your Time” – Sam Hunt
Video of the Year
- “Biscuits” – Kacey Musgraves
- “Burning House” – Cam
- “Girl Crush” – Little Big Town
- “Mr. Misunderstood” – Eric Church
- “Riser” – Dierks Bentley
Vocal Event of the Year
- “Hangover Tonight” – Gary Allan Featuring Chris Stapleton
- “Home Alone Tonight” – Luke Bryan Featuring Karen Fairchild
- “Raise ‘Em Up” – Keith Urban Featuring Eric Church
- “Smokin’ And Drinkin’” – Miranda Lambert Featuring Little Big Town
- “Wild Child” – Kenny Chesney With Grace Potter
There’s nothing better than throwing on a good pair of boots and watching one of the most dangerous events around – the rodeo. Each year comes with a spectacular array of rodeo events you’d kick yourself in the rear for missing, but a very prominent question we get tends to be, “which ones are the best ones to see?” Well here’s a list of the top ten rodeos we feel are the best of the best; from singular rodeo events to full on jamborees we guarantee you’ll have a good time no matter which of these you attend!
10. The Reno Rodeo – Reno, NV
Did your Fourth of July celebration end a little too soon for your liking? Well saddle up and head to The Reno Rodeo from June 16th through the 25th. Like most other rodeos this one features many events to keep the whole family involved – even if the main rodeo attractions aren’t up their alley. The featured Cowboy Church has you covered for some away-from-home Sunday worship should you so choose.
You can take a look at the full list of events at the website listed below; so see for yourself just how incredible The Reno Rodeo is year after year: http://www.renorodeo.com/
9. World’s Oldest Rodeo – Prescott, AZ
Featuring eight world-class rodeo performances, the 188-year-old “World’s Oldest Rodeo” will be holding it’s 129th annual Fourth of July celebration! This rodeo features wild horse races, an arts and crafts show as well as a kiddie parade; it never fails to bring a smile on the faces of the whole family. Anyone looking for a special night out with their significant other can even attend the Rodeo Dance!
For a more detailed list of activities and prices, see the event website here: http://www.worldsoldestrodeo.com
8. Greeley Stampede – Greeley, CO
From June 23rd through July 4th you can experience everything that the Greeley Stampede has to offer. From rodeos and barrel events to a demolition derby and more – there’s guaranteed to be something for the entire family to see. Even if someone coming along isn’t a big fan of rodeo themselves, there’s still the parade and the fireworks!
Check out the detailed list of all upcoming events and ticket prices here: http://www.greeleystampede.org/
7. Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo – Houston, TX
For those of us unlucky enough to have never attended the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, it’s quite possibly one of the best rodeos to take your family to in Texas. Filled with rodeos and events, the full celebration even has concerts and a carnival you can take the kids to for a day (or days) of fun and excitement. From March 1st through March 20th you can experience a full slew of activities designed to keep you entertained!
You can find all the information about this rodeo you need straight from their website: http://www.rodeohouston.com/
6. Pendleton Round-Up – Pendleton, OR
This is one rodeo designed to bring more of a Native American background to the audience. Rest assured that the rodeo itself is amazing, but the addition of some light history is always fun to both see and hear. This is one rodeo event you’d definitely want to take the kids along to! For those that enjoy this true Midwestern feel, you can attend this year from September 14th through the 17th.
To learn more about this rodeo, feel free to visit their website here: http://www.pendletonroundup.com/
5. Weekley Brothers Davie Pro Rodeo – Davie, FL
Finally, an event not being held in the Midwest makes it to our top ten list with the Davie Pro Rodeo in Davie, Florida. If you’re a true fan of rodeo then this is the one you want to see! While there are plenty of vendors with a great assortment of foods, there’s little more up the avenue of kids. There is an upside though, rodeo events are held here throughout the year, so even if you miss one there’s still more right around the corner!
For ticket prices and other information about the Davey Pro Rodeo, you can find it on their website here: http://davieprorodeo.com/dpr/
4. Cheyenne Frontier Days – Cheyenne, WY
If you haven’t had the pleasure of attending what’s been called “The Daddy of ‘Em All,” don’t worry! It’s an annual event filled with fun for the whole family, so even if you miss one year you’ll still be able to meet the next. This year it runs from July 22nd-31st (2016).
This rodeo is 10 days long filled with all the normal rodeo activities as well as a carnival for the kids, but there’s still plenty for the adults! Ten full days of activities, events, concerts, beer and some really juicy turkey legs will keep you coming back year after year for the premiere rodeo of the Midwest.
For more information and ticket princess you can visit the rodeo’s website here: http://www.cfdrodeo.com/
3. Ellensburg Rodeo – Ellensburg, WA
Here’s an old rodeo that’s host to a slew of events on top of the existing fair that takes place at the same time. Ellensburg Rodeo lasts for five days and is generally held in the beginning of September every year.
If you’re looking for a great rodeo to take the whole family to – this is it. Opening with a parade, the Kittitas County Fair and even hosting the World Finale of PRCA’s Extreme Bulls Tour, Ellensburg is on a lot of “Must See” lists!
If you would like to see a detailed list of events and prices, here’s the website: http://ellensburgrodeo.com
2. National Finals Rodeo – Las Vegas, NV
Can you imagine Las Vegas with a more Western feeling? All the fun of the normal nightlife mixed with some good old-fashioned country themes make this one of the best rodeos you could attend in the US. Even if you’re not going for the main events, they still host other free shows you could see just by being in Vegas.
For ten days you’ll be witness to what’s been called the Super Bowl of rodeos, the National Finals Rodeo.
For more information and ticket prices for next year, you can visit the main website here: http://nfrexperience.com/
1. National Western Stock Show & Rodeo – Denver, CO
For 110 years now the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo has been attracting people across the globe to it’s events. The entire thing lasts closer to a full month than a matter of days and is filled with fun for the whole family. From parades and live music to plenty of good food and great drinks you’ll be remiss to skip out on the best rodeo in the United States!
Starting on January 9th this massive event will be ongoing through January 24th and will feature nearly 30 rodeos in that time – not including the horse shows, agricultural trade shows as well as the “Super Bowl” of livestock shows.
If you need more information about the shows or the ticket prices themselves, you can find all that information here: http://nationalwestern.com
Over the last month, we conducted a poll to discover who is the best rising country star in 2016? Users were allowed to submit their own choices for their favorite artist and we received over 20,000 votes on the poll. Jason Sain & the Foolhearted received 5,058 votes which amounted to 23.36% of the total votes, making him the winner of our award. We presented this award to Jason and he was kind enough to answer some questions for us about his life as a rising country star.
Congrats on winning the fan’s choice rising country star award for 2106!
“The band and I are both tickled and honored. We forget sometimes, being based in Branson, MO allows us to play for people all over the country without spending 200 days a year on the road. It is nice to know that folks continue to come home from vacation and share their experience and our music with their friends. Thank you for this award, and I am happy to do my best to answer your questions!”
At what moment in your life did you realize you had to pursue country music?
“I realized I had to pursue country music shortly after my second divorce. I spent 10 years in a rock band called So Far Gone. This was the late 90’s early 2000’s and we toured with most of the big acts of the day including, Incubus, Papa Roach, and Buckcherry. After we broke up, I began to realize that no matter how much I loved rock-n-roll, I wasn’t from New York or LA, no matter how much I loved the blues, I hadn’t grown up in the Mississippi Delta, and though I might dig reggae, I’m certainly not Jamaican. My long time producer/mentor Lou Whitney gave me some advice, and said ‘Sometimes you just gotta breathe the air you’re born too.’
I grew up in the Texas Panhandle near the Oklahoma border where guys like Waylon Jennings, Don Williams, and Roger Miller were local artists. Even in my rock days, if someone would throw me an acoustic guitar to start playing, I could always get the room drunk and sentimental when I started playing country. I began to realize that my upbringing had given me a unique connection to the music. My old man has the best taste in country music in the world, and I had grown up learning to play music with him and his brothers and cousins at family gatherings.
Down and out after that second divorce, I started to take my songwriting seriously, and one of the guitarists from So Far Gone and I decided to put together The Foolhearted. He traded in his stack for a mandolin, and we picked up some local Branson hot shots to play dobro, bass, banjo, and fiddle. The mandolin player, Travis ‘Heavy T’ Gates, and I have now been playing together for over 20 years.”
Where is your favorite place you have ever played?
“Our favorite place is The Outback Pub in Branson, MO. It isn’t a huge venue, but it was the first one where we really built a following. Branson has been either a homebase , or a hometown for most of us, so every time we go back there now, it is kinda like Rock-N-Roll High School Reunion. I really used to love Foxtown City Limits near Frontenac, Kansas before they closed their doors, as well. It was half indoors, and half outdoors. Summer shows there were a ton of fun.”
Who are your main inspirations?
“My main inspirations would be Hank Williams Sr., Merle Haggard, and the Stanley Brothers. I’m a sucker for a sad country song, and those guys did it better than anyone. Bob Wills was from Turkey, Texas, about 50 miles from where I grew up. I really love Western Swing, as well! That combination of country music and jazz is so much fun, and challenging to play correctly. I guess, I’m one of those Lone Star Beer and Bob Wills Music kind of guys…”
If you had to chose someone other than yourself to be this year’s emerging country star, who would it be?
“If I had to choose someone other than ourselves to be this year’s emerging country star, it would have to be either Sturgill Simpson, or Cody Jinks. Both of those guys are great! It thrills me that there are some really great up and coming traditional country guys out there making a go of it. I also love, Whitey Morgan and Tommy Ash, as well.”
What does country music mean to you?
“It may be cliche’, but to me country music is ‘Three Chords and the Truth.’ There will always be a need for songs about real life, and the often overlooked majority working class in this country. In recent years, we have a seen what I like to call ‘The Decline of Country and Western Civilization.’ However, there is beginning to be a resurgence of authentic country music played by the guys who still write their own songs in the underground. Hopefully, this trend will continue, and Nashville will take notice. Several of my fellow musician buddies like to dis Pop Country, but I always point out that Pop is short for popular. They make it because, they believe they can sell it. It is the music BUSINESS after all. I am the first one to urge fans of traditional country to go out and actually purchase the albums of any new up and coming traditional artists. That is the only way to force the pendulum to swing back.”
For people interested in your music, what one song do you think defines your band the best?
“The song off our current album, ‘Dames, Trains, and Texas Size Tales’, I would most like to be remembered for is ‘Rust On the Wire’. I wrote it after spending a few weeks on my family’s farm in Texas. I saw these rusty, 50+ year old barbed wire fences, and wondered about the stories those fences would tell. We shot a big part of that video on our farm in Collingsworth County. I am very pleased with how it turned out. The song, ‘Down and Out In Dallas’ defines us as a group pretty well. I wrote that one after bailing Heavy T out of jail in Oklahoma one night on the way to Dallas.”
Country music has many genres, what genre would you classify your music as?
I have always thought our contribution to country music has been based on where we were from. I grew up in Texas, but the rest of the guys grew up in the Ozark Mountains. Our sound has kind of developed into a West Texas take on Bluegrass, or Ozarks music. Occasionally, we get a drummer buddy to sit in, and break out the Telecasters for a night of all out Bakersfield worship, but overall we are a cross between old-time and honky-tonk.
Do you have plans for any new music, albums or anything you are currently working on?
“Currently, I am finishing up a bluegrass gospel album with my family that I have always dreamed of doing. We do plan to finally release The Foolhearted’s follow-up to Dames, Train, and Texas Size Tales this year, tentatively titled, Blue Collar Blues. It will feature our most popular song, ‘She Deleted Me From Facebook’, which has yet to have an official release. We finished that album up with my long time producer, Lou Whitney, shortly before he passed away.”
If you weren’t playing country music what would you be doing?
“If I wasn’t playing country music, I would most likely be teaching in the Roots Music Department at The Conservatory of the Ozarks, in Springfield, MO. They have been a great support to us, and I have loved teaching songwriting workshops there, on occasion. I plan on finishing a degree in American Folk Music, and teaching there, if I ever decide to take a step away from performing.”
What makes your band different or what new elements do you bring to country music that sets you apart?
“The thing that sets us apart from other country artists is our backgrounds. We really are a great mix of our styles and influences. Of course, I grew up in Texas, and have been greatly influenced by Western Swing and Honky Tonk. Heavy, our bassist Seth Darby, and banjo man Todd Plympton all grew up in the Ozarks, and are well versed in traditional Ozark’s bluegrass. Our fiddler, Louis Darby grew up in Louisiana, and won the state championship in Cajun style fiddling a number of years. Kris Snow, on dobro, grew up in California, and was around all of the great bluegrass coming out of there as a kid. The background Heavy T and I have in big budget rock shows has given our live show an energy you don’t get with most artists in traditional music. We still live by the punk rock ethos, ‘Loud, Fast, Rules!’ Not to mention, thanks to Branson, we love lights, fog, and pyrotechnics… and Nudie suits when the venues are appropriate.”
What other thoughts, advice or insight would you like to tell fans out there?
“I would like to encourage fans to dig into the underground country scene. The best artists, and hopefully the stars of tomorrow, are guys you haven’t even heard of yet. Underground country is not unlike the underground alternative music of the early 90s, in that it is ripe with artists who are getting back to the roots of the music. There will always be a need for simple songs that a kid can learn to play in his bedroom.
I get a feeling the underground is ready to explode on the scene, as I see one internet feed after another blasting the over-produced, over-formulaic music being pushed on us by Nashville the past few years. If you are as sick of the current commercial formula as the rest of the silent working class majority is, then I hope you will search these underground artists out, and actually buy their music. They are out there struggling and working their asses off for their art, in hopes of making a human connection. The humanities, such as art and music, exist so we might have a human experience, and learn something about ourselves in the process. The cream will always rise to the top, but it is the fans that will get them there.
They will continue to create, because that is what artists do… we create. If you appreciate our work, please support it. Ol’ Hank used to say ‘Me and the boys have eaten a lot of beans and biscuits of this number…’ before playing ‘Cold Cold Heart’, which, during his lifetime, was his most successful song. Artists still need that support. We all know how easy it is to get music for free these days, but I encourage you all to help support the artists you love, and help them become the cream that rises.”
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us! Where can we find your music?
Our debut album, ‘Dames, Trains, and Texas Size Tales’ is available on iTunes, the Google Play Store, CD Baby, Amazon, and many more. You can see videos and live clips on YouTube, and listen to the album on Spotify, and several other sites. We would also love to come out to Colorado and play the Grizzly Rose sometime. Several of our friends have, and they only have great things to say about your venue. Thank you again for this award! We are very thrilled, and a little surprised to have won.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/thefoolhearted
Reverbnation Page: https://www.reverbnation.com/jasonsainthefoolhearted
Vote on who you think is, or will be, the best up and coming country artist!
The add your own option has been REMOVED due to many artists listed more then once. If you would like an artist added please message us on our Facebook page!
The definition of a Honky Tonk is ‘the name given to a type of bar that provides country music for entertainment to its patrons.’ This name has also been applied to a variety of music genre’s centering around a country theme. Whether it’s referring to a local country bar or a new favorite track, the term is still widely used today, but the question is, where did this quirky term originate from?
What really was a Honky Tonk?
When the word first came about, a Honky Tonk was considered to be a place that served alcohol to working class folk. They also typically featured some element of live music such as a piano player or a live band. Dancing was very common at these establishments as the night went on, and very often they were also well known for being centers of prostitution.
How did the word ‘Honky Tonk’ come to fruition?
The sad truth about the word ‘Honky Tonk’ is that no one can really agree how it came about. The earliest evidence of the word being used was by a newspaper in Fort Worth, Texas in 1889. The word was capitalized and followed by the word ‘theater’ in the article, which was simply a petition to re-open the establishment. This suggests that perhaps it was just the name of the establishment rather than the type. In another newspaper article in 1894, this time in Oklahoma, the word honk-a-tonk was used in an article, but it had nothing to do with a bar or theater of any kind. Historians believe the word might have been meant to describe cattle drive trails where cowboys would bring their livestock to market. These were very common around the border of Texas and Oklahoma during that time period. As cowboys were common in these types of establishments, this localized slang may have developed into the name for their local drinking holes over time. One final other theory about the terms origination comes from the name of an American piano manufacturer. ‘William Tonk & Bros’ started making pianos in the late 1880’s many of which were likely being played in these Honky Tonk establishments. As music was a commonality for these types of bars, it’s very plausible that ‘Honky Tonk’ developed from the brand name of these pianos.
Where were the first Honky Tonks?
There is much dispute on where exactly the first Honky Tonks originated from. That being said most people would agree that they originated somewhere around Texas and its neighboring states. As mentioned above, Texas and Oklahoma have the oldest newspaper record of the word being used. Basically, where there were cowboys, there seemed to be evidence of Honky Tonks. Writers of the late 1800s such as Wyatt Earp, mentioned visiting Honky Tonks in a variety of cowtowns from Kansas to Montana. In accounts of the Spanish-American War in the early 1900’s Honky Tonks were even mentioned as far west as New Mexico.
What’s a Honky Tonk today?
Today Honky Tonks are losely synonymous with a country western bar that offers live music. They are no longer limited to the ‘wild wild west’ region of the United States and can be found in major cities and small towns from California to North Carolina. While this type of quirky named establishment may have changed over the years and we still don’t really know exactly where it came from, we are proud to be an authentic Honky Tonk for the city of Denver!