The United States is a vast and diverse country, teeming with natural wonders and breathtaking landscapes. One of the best ways to experience this beauty is by taking a road trip along the country’s scenic routes. From coastal highways to mountain passes, the USA offers an array of incredible drives that will leave you in awe. Here are our top 6 scenic drives in the USA.
The Pacific Coast Highway, also known as California State Route 1, offers a mesmerizing journey along the Pacific Ocean. Starting in the north at Leggett and running south to Orange County, this route passes through some of California’s most picturesque coastal towns and attractions. You’ll be treated to rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, and iconic landmarks like Big Sur and the Bixby Creek Bridge. The Pacific Coast Highway provides unending opportunities for whale watching, exploring state parks, and enjoying the freshest seafood.
For a taste of the Appalachian Mountains’ majesty, the Blue Ridge Parkway is the ultimate destination. Stretching for 469 miles between Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, this drive offers a kaleidoscope of autumn colors and charming, historic towns. The parkway provides ample opportunities for hiking, picnicking, and camping, all while you take in panoramic views of rolling hills and lush forests.
If you’re seeking an adrenaline rush and a thrilling driving experience, the Tail of the Dragon is the road to conquer. This legendary route boasts 318 hairpin curves and 11 miles of pure driving bliss. Located on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, the Tail of the Dragon offers a challenge for driving enthusiasts with its steep elevation changes, tight turns, and scenic forested surroundings. It’s a must-visit for those who crave an exhilarating driving adventure.
Located in Glacier National Park, Going-to-the-Sun Road is an engineering marvel that traverses the heart of the park, crossing the Continental Divide. The 50-mile drive takes you through alpine meadows, dense forests, and past pristine lakes. You’ll be captivated by the stunning vistas of towering mountain peaks, and if you’re lucky, you may spot native wildlife, including grizzly bears and bighorn sheep. For a truly awe-inspiring experience, this drive is best enjoyed in the summer, when the snow has melted and the wildflowers are in full bloom.
The Columbia River Gorge is a geological wonder, and the Historic Columbia River Highway showcases its beauty. This route takes you through lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and the jaw-dropping Multnomah Falls. As you drive along the winding roads, you’ll see vistas of the Columbia River and its striking canyons. The 75-mile drive offers many hiking opportunities, including the iconic Eagle Creek Trail, where you can explore more waterfalls and witness the unique basalt cliffs.
For a coastal adventure like no other, the Outer Banks Scenic Byway is your ideal choice. This 138-mile route spans from Bodie Island Lighthouse to Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands, taking you through the unique barrier islands of North Carolina. Along the way, you’ll encounter pristine beaches, wildlife refuges, and charming fishing villages. Don’t miss a visit to the Wright Brothers National Memorial and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse for a taste of the region’s history.
Driving the entirety of Route 66, often referred to as the “Main Street of America,” is an iconic American road trip. Stretching from Chicago to Santa Monica, California, this historic highway covers over 2,400 miles and offers a nostalgic journey through time. Along the way, you’ll encounter quirky roadside attractions, classic diners, and charming towns, all while immersing yourself in the rich history and culture of the American Southwest. From the famous Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, to the striking landscapes of Arizona, Route 66 is a nostalgic adventure that embodies the spirit of the American road trip.
One person who has done almost all these drives plus a ton more is Jeff Thisted. He drives a ’55 210 Handyman wagon and has traversed coast to coast in his car numerous times. If there’s a show in Florida, he’s driving it there! If it’s in Oregon, he’s driving it there too! We have certainly enjoyed his journeys over the years and it inspired us to write this article. You can follow him here, www.idrivea55.com or his IG where he’s a little more active, @jeffthisted.
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