The Ultimate Road Trip: America’s 17 Most Scenic Drives

Are you hitting the road this summer? Well, get ready for a wild ride through the scenic drives in the U.S. From the wide-open countryside spaces to the bustling city streets, our country is packed with surprises and stunning sights at every turn.

And it’s not just about the views. You can sample tasty local treats and make pit stops at fun roadside attractions. No road trip is complete without a bit of adventure and a whole lot of fun. Here are 17 routes that will take your breath away and leave you craving more.

1. Pacific Coast Highway, California

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The Pacific Coast Highway in California is like a dream road for anyone who loves beautiful views. It’s a long stretch that hugs the coastline of California, meaning you get stunning cliff views dropping into the blue Pacific Ocean.

There are also plenty of beaches where you can relax or walk in the sand.

2. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina and Virginia

Image Credit: By Ken Thomas – website of photographer), Public Domain, WikiCommons.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic road that winds through North Carolina and Virginia mountains. It is famous for its breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which look like waves of blue stretching out into the distance.

One of the best times to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway is in the fall when the leaves on the trees turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and gold. It’s like driving through a painting.

3. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana

Image Credit: By Royalbroil – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, WikiCommons.

Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana takes you through the heart of Glacier National Park. It’s named after the majestic Going-to-the-Sun Mountain and is known for its stunning mountain scenery and thrilling twists and turns.

While on the route, keep an eye out for Logan Pass, where you can stop and take a hike to get even closer to the beauty of the park.

4. Overseas Highway, Florida Keys, Florida

Image Credit: By Pom’ from France, European Union – Overseas Highway, Keys, Florida, CC BY-SA 2.0, WikiCommons.

Also known as U.S. Route 1, the Overseas Highway in Florida connects the mainland of Florida to the beautiful Florida Keys. Driving on this highway is like driving on a bridge over the sparkling blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

You will cross the famous Seven Mile Bridge while on the highway, which offers panoramic views of the turquoise gates below.

5. Route 66, Illinois to California

Image Credit: By Dietmar Rabich, CC BY-SA 4.0,WikiCommons.

Route 66, often called the “Mother Road,” is an iconic highway stretching from Illinois to California. Driving along Route 66, you’ll pass through small towns and big cities, each with its charm and attractions.

Along the way, you’ll see vintage roadside diners, classic motels, and roadside attractions that harken back to a bygone era.

6. Million Dollar Highway, Colorado

Image Credit: By Reinhard Schön – This picture was shot by Reinhard Schön using my camera while I was driving. –AFBorchert, CC BY-SA 3.0, WikiCommons.

This scenic drive winds its way through the rugged San Juan Mountains. One of the most famous sections of the Million Dollar Highway is the stretch between Ouray and Silverton, where the road climbs to over 10,000 feet above sea level.

You will also pass through historic mining towns and past abandoned mines, reminders of Colorado’s rich mining heritage.

7. Hana Highway, Maui, Hawaii

Image Credit: By Jonathanking – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, WikiCommons.

The Hana Highway on the island of Maui in Hawaii is a legendary road along the island’s northeastern coast. It’s famous for its lush rainforests, coastal cliffs, and stunning waterfalls.

Get ready to encounter breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean along the way, as well as tropical jungles full of exotic flowers and bamboo forests.

8. Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, Oregon

Image Credit: By Unknown author or not provided – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, WikiCommons.

For travelers looking for unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean, the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway in Oregon offers just that. As a bonus, you will also experience the rugged beauty of Oregon’s coastline, which has rocky headlands and crashing waves.

You will also get the opportunity to explore iconic landmarks like the Oregon Dunes and the Yaquina Head Lighthouse.

9. Beartooth Highway, Montana and Wyoming

Image Credit: By Pahcal123 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, WikiCommons.

This mountain road passes through Beartooth Pass in Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains. The roads here climb to dizzying heights, reaching over 10,000 feet above sea level and offering views of snow-capped peaks.

As you enjoy the peaks, remember to explore the outdoor recreational activities along the highway, such as hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing.

10. Highway 12 Scenic Byway, Utah

Image Credit: By DXR – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, WikiCommons.

Known for its red rock formations and deep canyons, the Highway 12 Scenic Byway in Utah passes through some of the most stunning landscapes in the American West.

When driving this highway, you’ll encounter Bryce Canyon National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Some small charming towns and historic sites add to the journey’s allure.

11. Great River Road, Minnesota to Louisiana

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The Great River Road follows the course of the mighty Mississippi River from its headwaters in Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico in Louisiana. It’s one of America’s longest and most iconic scenic byways, stretching over 2,000 miles.

You can visit historic sites, museums, and landmarks that tell the story of the river and the people who have lived along its banks for centuries while on your way.

12. Highway 101, Oregon Coast, Oregon

Image Credit: By OSU Special Collections & Archives : Commons – Oregon coast taken from Highway 101 near Brookings, Oregon, No restrictions, WikiCommons.

Highway 101 along the Oregon coast allows travelers to explore iconic landmarks such as the Oregon Dunes, Cape Perpetua, and the Sea Lion Caves.

You can also take scenic detours and visit lighthouses, state parks, scenic coastline overlooks, and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

13. Columbia River Highway, Oregon

Image Credit: By Mark Rosengarten – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, WikiCommons.

The Columbia River Highway is renowned for its stunning waterfalls, such as Multnomah and Horsetail Falls. You’ll also encounter historic sites and charming small towns that tell the story of the region’s rich history and culture.

If you have enough time, go through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and enjoy outdoor activities like hiking and wildlife viewing.

14. Trail Ridge Road, Colorado

Image Credit: By DXR – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, WikiCommons.

The highest continuous paved road in the United States with elevations of over 12,000 feet, the Trail Ridge Road traverses Rocky Mountain National Park. It offers breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks and valleys.

The best part about this road is the chance to spot wildlife such as elk, deer, and bighorn sheep in their natural habitat.

15. Red Rock Scenic Byway, Arizona

Image Credit: By Unknown author or not provided – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain, WikiCommons.

With iconic landmarks like the Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Courthouse Butte, the Red Rock Scenic Byway is a mesmerizing drive. The road meanders through Oak Creek Canyon, offering glimpses of lush vegetation and the sparkling waters of Oak Creek below.

Also, you will get to view sandstone formations and the desert flora along the route.

16. Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire

Image Credit: By Theletterm1973 at English Wikipedia – Own work, Public Domain, WikiCommons.

From lush forests to crystal clear streams and towering peaks, the Kanamagus Highway in New Hampshire is indeed a picturesque route.

The road passes through the White Mountain National Forest, which offers countless opportunities for outdoor recreation, such as hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing.

17. Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee

Image Credit: By Matthew Nichols –, CC BY 2.0, WikiCommons.

The Natchez Trace Park Highway stretches from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee, and clips the Northwest corner of Alabama. It’s dotted with historic sites such as Native American mounds, Civil War battlefields, and antebellum plantations. Travelers can stop at the historical markers and picnic sites.

You’ll be immersed in the beauty of the southern landscape, with rolling hills and meandering rivers along the parkway. Since the speed limit on most of the Trace is 45 mph, you’ll have plenty of time to appreciate the scenery.

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