Best of Both Worlds: 4 Super Cool Towns a Short Drive From Astounding Nature

Best of Both Worlds: 4 Super Cool Towns a Short Drive From Astounding Nature

Best of Both Worlds: 4 Super Cool Towns a Short Drive From Astounding Nature

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Best of Both Worlds: 4 Super Cool Towns a Short Drive From Astounding Nature

In 370 miles, you can get pretty deep into the wild. That’s Los Angeles to Yosemite, Salt Lake City to Yellowstone, Memphis to the Gulf of Mexico. It’s also the EPA-estimated hybrid driving range of the 2024 Jeep® Wrangler 4xe. Those epic journeys into nature can be done all on one charge + tank.

But what if you only needed a fraction of that distance? From the four small cities below, astounding nature is just minutes away from in-town delights, and that 370-mile range means hours or even days of nonstop adventure. Put yourself in one of these spots — and in a Wrangler 4xe — to enjoy the best of both worlds.

BUILD YOUR WRANGLER 4xe for the ultimate city-to-nature road trip.

1. Tucson, AZ

Photo: 86Eric_Anthony_Mischke 86/Shutterstock

Name two US cities that split a national park. You can’t, because there’s only one: Tucson, Arizona. Flanked to the east and west by Saguaro National Park, Tucson offers classic Southwest desert scenes — the saguaro is that iconic, arms-waving cactus that can grow up to 60 feet tall. The city sits in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, with five nearby mountain ranges ready for a little open-air, 4WD exploration.

After you’ve got your national park stamp, scout out spots like Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, Catalina State Park, Madera Canyon, and Redington Pass. All provide surprisingly lush desert scenes — even waterfalls are possible, as on Sabino Canyon’s Seven Falls Trail.

Eventually, you’ll need to charge back up. For your 4xe, the city has nearly 100 charging stations; for you, Tucson is the United States’ first UNESCO City of Gastronomy. El Charro Café, the oldest Mexican restaurant in the US and the birthplace of the chimichanga, is the obvious spot for gaining a deeper appreciation for this part of the country.

Tip: Tucson houses the headquarters of Dark Sky International. Come nightfall, drive the 27-mile Sky Island Parkway National Scenic Byway to the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter Observatory — at the summit of Mt. Lemmon, some 9,150 feet high — to gaze at the cosmos through the region’s largest telescopes.

2. Bremerton, WA

Photo: Cavan-Images/Shutterstock

Across from Seattle lies the “natural side” of the Puget Sound: the Kitsap Peninsula. Bremerton — population 45,000 — is the peninsula’s largest city, a naval town with an artistic, gritty flair that’s halfway between Olympic and Mount Rainier national parks. While tourists flock to these well-known destinations, Kitsap sits quietly in the spotlight’s shadow. And in-the-know travelers rejoice.

By morning, hit up one of Bremerton’s three main drags — on either side of the Manette Bridge, plus the Charleston neighborhood — for your caffeine of choice. From there, head out to hike up Green Mountain, wander the sands of the wonderfully named Point No Point looking for orcas, or paddle the Kitsap Peninsula National Water Trails. You might want to save that last one for nightfall, though — the peninsula’s waters glow with bioluminescence in summer.

For adventures farther afield (but still well within 370 miles), visit either of the aforementioned national parks, or point your GPS somewhere less crowded like the Olympic National Forest. If you’re up for some gravel, make the off-road trek to the High Steel Bridge, the tallest railroad bridge in the country — it’s an epic backcountry scene over the wild Skokomish River. The potholes will outnumber the humans, but with the 4xe’s 10.8-inch ground clearance, that’s a worthwhile trade.

3. Grand Marais, MN

Photo: Craig Hinton/Shutterstock

Even farther north than Duluth — about two hours farther north — Grand Marais anchors Minnesota’s wild and spectacular North Shore. Just getting here requires trekking up Lake Superior’s rolling western coast, where ancient volcanic cliffs and boreal forests tumble into America’s largest lake.

The Grand Marais Art Colony has set the vibe here, birthing the town’s clutch of art galleries and studios. Stretch your legs by perusing the shops, grab a bite at classic spots like the Angry Trout or Fisherman’s Daughter, and wander toward the lakeshore. Then head out to Artists Point for a quick hit of Lake Superior, or tackle a section of the 310-mile Superior Hiking Trail that spans the entirety of the North Shore.

But before you commit to an on-foot journey, know that one of Grand Marais’ best adventures happens back on four wheels: the 57-mile Gunflint Trail, a paved scenic byway that leads from Grand Marais to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The occasional lodge and restaurant dot the route, but this is one of the country’s last great wilds — you’ll pass bodies of water so solitary the call of the loon will be your only companion.

Tip: Even with the top down and the wind in your hair, your Jeep Wrangler 4xe can still transport those kayaks with a hitch-mount rack. (Talk about best of both worlds.)

4. Terlingua, TX

Photo: Dean Fikar/Shutterstock

Terlingua’s “downtown” is called Terlingua Ghost Town — that’s its actual name. The Chisos Mining Company was established here in 1903, and, well, you can guess how the story goes from there. But it’s the 21st century now, and Terlingua is vibrant once again, a ghost town resurrected.

In the evenings, folks clamor on the porch outside the Terlingua Trading Company (a general store located in the original trading post building) and the legendary Starlight Theatre (where you can score Texas eats in an old movie palace). They sit and chat, sure, but it’s all about the view: the Chisos Mountains, Mule Ears Peaks, Big Bend State Ranch Park, and Big Bend National Park string out across the desert horizon. While your 4xe charges — yes, there are two charging stations in this “ghost town” — your job is to simply take it all in.

Once you’ve had your fill of town, it’s time get a closer look. Hit the road and you’ll find lush riparian zones along the Rio Grande and its tributaries, yucca-splashed scenes in the Chihuahuan Desert, and even alpine landscapes, box canyons, and ranch ruins in the Chisos Mountains. Set out on Big Bend National Park’s Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive and follow it all the way to the majestic Santa Elena Canyon. Like Terlingua, that’s the end of the road — with the Jeep Wrangler 4xe, just the beginning.

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Hi, I’m Steven, a Florida native, who left my career in corporate wealth management six years ago to embark on a summer of soul searching that would change the course of my life forever.

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