Unforgettable Road Trips in America
Written By: Bonnie Gringer
With its varied landscapes and geographic landforms, America offers many different vacation options for people who wish to explore the country. Each state has its own list of scenic landmarks that attract visitors. Taking a road trip is one way to get an up-close glimpse of unique towns and cities. This type of travel can also afford tourists the opportunity to see majestic sights such as mountains, canyons, rivers, and natural desert formations.
Acadia All-American Road, Maine
The Acadia All-American Road is located in Acadia National Park in Maine. This roadway stretches 40 miles, winding its way around mountains, through forests, and along shorelines. Visitors can pull off the road at many different spots to take in vistas or wander off the road to hike on trails. The road also goes through various harbor towns, including Bar Harbor. Allow at least three hours to drive this scenic byway.
- Maine’s Scenic Byways (PDF)
- Acadia All-American Road
- Acadia Country
- Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, Maine: Scenic Wonderland of Ocean, Lakes, and Mountains (PDF)
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina
The Blue Ridge Parkway curves and bends through the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia and North Carolina. Covering 469 beautiful miles, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a part of America’s national park system, and the National Park Service manages and maintains this roadway. All sections of the parkway were completed to connect the entire system in 1987. The northern terminus is located near Waynesboro, Virginia, and the southern terminus is located north of Bryson City, North Carolina.
- About the Parkway
- Map of the Parkway (PDF)
- North Carolina and Virginia: Save Your Blue Ridge Parkway
- Experiencing “America’s Favorite Drive”
U.S. Route 1, Florida Keys
The Florida Keys Scenic Highway, also known as U.S. Route 1, is located in southeast Florida. This highway has been designated as an All-American Road. Spanning more than 100 miles, the road allows drivers to look in almost every direction while traveling to see the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The highway boasts plentiful vistas and natural areas that contribute to a feeling of island paradise. The pace is a little slower in the Florida Keys, with people enjoying a more laid-back lifestyle.
- Florida Keys Scenic Highway Map (PDF)
- Student Documents More Than 150 Maritime Artifacts Along Florida Keys U.S. Route 1
- Florida Scenic Highway Program Overview (PDF)
Bayou Teche Scenic Byway, Louisiana
Travelers taking the Bayou Teche Scenic Byway in Louisiana will wind their way over a 125-mile highway that features breathtaking landscapes. This trip also gives visitors a unique glimpse into the French Cajun and Anglo-Saxon cultures, which dominate various areas of the byway. Stop at cafes along the way to sample local cuisine. Many historic districts line the way with landmarks and buildings still standing and available for touring.
Great River Road, Minnesota Through Louisiana
The Mississippi River headwaters are located in northern Minnesota, originating with Lake Itasca. This majestic river snakes along or through 10 states on its way down to empty into the Gulf of Mexico. The Great River Road is a scenic byway that travels along the Mississippi River, through the same 10 states. Some sections of this highway have been designated as National Scenic Byways due to the natural beauty that exists along the river.
- The Great River Road (PDF)
- Wisconsin Great River Road
- Autumn Is the Perfect Time to Explore the Great River Road
- A Most Amazing River (PDF)
Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana
This scenic highway runs through Glacier National Park, and it was finished in 1932. Running east and west through the park, the 50-mile two-lane roadway showcases forests, lakes, tundras, and mountain passes. Drivers can pull off the highway to take pictures of scenic views. With its high elevation, this road is only open between late June and late September due to heavy snows.
- Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Avalanche Path Atlas (PDF)
- Glacier National Park Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor Management Plan: Existing Conditions of the Transportation System (PDF)
- Going-to-the-Sun Road
- Protecting the Glacier National Park Experience: Access, Wildness, and Pristine Nature
- Going-to-the-Sun Road
Rockefeller Parkway, Wyoming
The John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway wanders through northwestern Wyoming, northern Montana, and western Idaho. Travelers of this highway see both the Grand Teton National Park and the Yellowstone National Park on their journey. Congress designated 24,000 acres of land in 1972 in recognition of Rockefeller’s contributions to national parks. Visitors will see majestic mountains, hills, ridges, cliffs, rivers, marshlands, valleys, forests, and glades during their drive along the Rockefeller Parkway.
- Grand Teton National Park and John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway (PDF)
- John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway (PDF)
- John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway
Trail Ridge Road, Colorado
Trail Ridge Road covers 48 miles through Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. With sky-high elevations, this scenic roadway promises to be an exhilarating road trip. Wildlife in the park is plentiful, and visitors can hope to see bighorn sheep, elk, moose, deer, and more. Trail Ridge Road received designation as an All-American Road in 1996.
- Trail Ridge Road: Rocky Mountain National Park
- Trail Ridge Road/Beaver Meadow Road
- Fort Collins to Walden to Grand Lake and Back to Fort Collins via Trail Ridge Road
- A Ride Up Trail Ridge Road
Pacific Coast Highway, California
This 123-mile highway along California’s coastline promises scintillating vistas, rugged landscapes, redwood groves, and several state parks along the way. Most people take about five hours for the drive. The Pacific Coast Highway has been designated as an All-American Road for the scenic experience drivers will have as they travel it. Cities and towns along the way offer plentiful opportunities for shopping, eating, and exploring.
Columbia River Scenic Highway, Oregon
The Columbia River Scenic Byway in Oregon promises beauty and history for those who travel it. The highway follows the Columbia River Gorge, which is 80 miles long and roughly 4,000 feet deep. Tourists who pull off the highway at any one of the many trailheads can hike the trails in search of waterfalls. This unique environment is also home to abundant wildlife and plant species.
Cascade Loop, Washington
The Cascade Mountains in the state of Washington include a variety of types of rugged terrain, including high peaks, valleys, forests, and grasslands. Visitors wishing to experience the wide range of natural beauty in this area might traverse the Cascade Loop Scenic Highway. Most people take between two and four days to travel this scenic 400-mile roadway. It’s possible to stop along the way to explore forests, waterfalls, and vistas.
Olympic Peninsula Loop, Washington
Highway 101 is also known as the Olympic Loop Highway. The Olympic Mountains and Olympic National Park provide an impressive backdrop for this scenic byway. The road is a loop that includes a variety of scenic landmarks, including Lake Crescent, Lake Sutherland, Gray’s Harbor on Lake Quinault, and Hood Canal. The entire loop is 330 miles around the Olympic Peninsula.
Anchorage to Valdez, Alaska
Richardson Highway was named after Gen. Wilds P. Richardson, the first president of the Alaska Road Commission. Alaska’s first highway connected Valdez with Fairbanks initially. At its completion, it covered a distance of more than 360 miles, and drivers can travel the distance in about eight hours. Two sections of the highway have received designations as state scenic byways due to the impressive mountains and glaciers visible from the road.
Hana Highway, Maui
Hana Highway on Maui, Hawaii, is 126 miles long. Although the distance may seem relatively short, the hairpin turns and one-lane bridges along the way will slow travel progress significantly. Driving through tropical rainforests and arid deserts, along shorelines and canyons, and within hiking distance of waterfalls will beckon visitors to pull off the road to explore. Tourists can drive the highway in a day, or they can take longer to explore by staying at an inn along the way.
The most famous highway for road-trip enthusiasts, Route 66 runs through eight different states and covers more than 2,400 miles. Although it is possible to complete the entire drive from Chicago to Los Angeles in about five days, it’s more enjoyable to travel slowly to enjoy the scenery and the towns along the way. A number of tour guides provide people with tips for interesting stops along the way as they travel Route 66 through America.