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Eight Great American Road Trips
Great Road Trips For Anyone Searching For Beauty and Adventure!
The United States of America is full of beautiful roadways, scenic byways and breathtakingly beautiful drives. And many of the most beautiful road trips are the ones that are taken in the fall when the foliage is in its full blazing colorful glory. From coastal seashores to magnificent mountain ranges to amazing foliage, there is something along these memorable drives for everyone to love.
I'll begin by going from the West Coast of America to the Eastern Coast. Then I'll cover two other iconic and gorgeous roadways, one found in Hawaii and another famous scenic roadway in Alaska.
The California Coastline, Scenic Route 1
Beginning with the famous California coastline, a fantastic road trip is found along the California coasts Route 1. This highway is also sometimes known simply as "Highway 1" and can be started either from the northern end of California going south or from the southern end of California, heading northward. This road practically stretches the entire length of the state, which is quite a long drive. It's best broken up by stays along the way in iconic seaside towns.
Either direction offers adventurers a gorgeous drive with scenery ranging from the huge redwood trees to fabulous pristine beaches and a rocky coastline that has been carved over the centuries by the sea water. Twisting and curving while traversing past breathtakingly beautiful scenery, everyone can enjoy the simplicity of the beautiful scenery, while keeping an eye out for playful sea lion pups or curious otters!
Stopping in the quaint little towns dotting the coastline like Laguna Beach or Carmel By The Sea provides opportunities for breaks, along with fun recreational opportunities. Charming accommodations can be found as well, depending on one's budget and on the amenities desired.
Many have said that the most beautiful part of this particular drive is in the Big Sur area, which is located in the central coast area, near San Simeon and it stretches all the way to Carmel. Visitors will be thrilled by majestic redwood trees on one side of this drive and beaches with playful sea lions and otters on the other side. A camera is an absolutely must for this gorgeous and spectacular scenic drive!
The Million Dollar Highway In Breathtakingly Beautiful Colorado
Near Tellluride, Colorado begins a seemingly short twenty-four mile stretch of road that connects the towns of Ouray and Silverton, located in the southwestern part of the state. This highway is also known as U.S. 550. Located in the San Juan mountains, this is one road trip full of exciting twists and turns combined with vertical drops that will make anyone feel as if they are riding on an amusement park roller coaster.
In the springtime, this is an especially pretty trip featuring gorgeous displays of wildflowers. Be sure to watch for some of the fascinating wildlife here, everything from black bears can be spotted to elk to deer and mountain goats. This is one road trip that will remind visitors of the days back when the Wild West really WAS wild. This gorgeous stretch of highway may seem to be deceptively short, but a good day should be planned to take this trip. Those crazy turns and drops take time to travel.
Be sure to plan on spending some time in the historic town of Silverton, which is listed as a National Historic Landmark. Check out the fascinating array of buildings from the 1870's and breathe in the history of the western part of this fabulous country.
A Scenic "All American Road," Highway 12, In Southern Utah
Southern Utah's Famous Scenic Highway 12
Boasting several national parks, this historic roadway in southern Utah is one of only twenty-seven roadways in the entire United States to have received the designation nationally of "All American Road." This award is one of the highest honors that can possibly be bestowed on a roadway for its beautiful scenery.
With brilliantly sparkling blue lakes and the mountain ranges studded with majestic pines all along this roadway, taking this drive is always a pleasure. These sights combined with amazing sandstone structures and glorious red colored canyons make this scenic American byway a display of beauty virtually unmatched any place else in this vast country.
This spectacular roadway goes from the amazing Bryce Canyon through the pretty green forests of Boulder Mountain and continues on through the Dixie National Forest. Offering some of the most unforgettable scenery in the entire United States, the drive becomes even more beautiful (if that is even possible) in the evening when the sun is setting in an amazing display of reds, golds along with a stunning shade of blaze orange.
Scenic Route 179 Near Beautiful Sedona, Arizona
Arizona's Red Rock Scenic Byway, Route 179
Located near the population-filled and sprawled out area of Sedona, this scenic route is short, but packed full of glorious color and adventure. Travel from Sedona southward on scenic route 179, with this route ending at Interstate 17 by Rimrock, Arizona. Bringing along a mountain bike is a great idea for this run, along with a good pair of hiking boots. There are many trails to hike and ride, and beautiful red rock formations to see.
These red rock formations have interesting names based on the way they look like "Snoopy" (that one is my favorite) and "Bell" and "Cathedral". Nice hikes can be taken on the hiking trails, but be sure to bring along water, wear a hat and sunscreen and sunglasses and enjoy the beauty of nature while protecting yourself from the strong UV rays found in the desert. Watch as the daylight causes the red rock formations to seemingly change color.
Most of this drive will be through the Coconino National Forest where you can see sprawling areas filled with beautiful desert yucca and cacti along with majestic pines. Look above for eagles and hawks swooping overhead, and be sure to watch for coyotes, elk and deer.
Visitors will be interested to know that many Western's were filmed in this area back in the 1940s and 1950s, including the Jimmy Stewart movie "Broken Arrow." The scenery may look familiar, and this could be the reason why!
This is a drive always worth taking, but is especially beautiful in the evening near sunset, the colors alone offer a breathtaking view!
The Sun Road Through Glacier National Park In Montana
In the gorgeous northern Montana area, one of the most scenic drives in the United States is found on a 52 mile stretch of roadway through the stunning Glacier National Park. This road is known either by the name Sun Road, or Going To The Sun Road. See all the beauty created by these huge and impressive glaciers and continue on your adventure, ultimately crossing the Continental Divide.
The Continental Divide is thrilling, at an elevation of over 6,600 feet. Be sure to stop along the way at the Jackson Glacier Overlook to see the glaciers. And be sure to keep a watch for bighorn sheep and mountain goats. Thrill to the sights of this wilderness, with its natural canyons, gorges, crystal clear lakes and the famous Garden Wall. Portions of the roadway known as the Garden Wall were created almost eighty years ago, and this area of the road was carved into these majestic vertical cliffs.
This road is open from early June until the middle of October, or until the first snow begins to fall, so a trip here would have to be planned for summer and early Fall to see all of the splendor and beauty of this dramatic landscape. Glaciers have made this area absolutely breathtaking, and you will want to stop along the way to take advantage of the many stunning photo opportunities, and just to get out of the car and explore.
There are also a few small campgrounds, and some limited lodging available along the way. It's best to look into lodging in advance of your trip. The sheer beauty of this landscape is practically unmatched in any other area of this beautiful United States.
Breathtaking Beauty Found Along Sun Road In Northern Montana
The Spectacular Blue Ridge Parkway In North Carolina And Virginia
The Beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway Through North Carolina And Virginia
When talking about the most scenic road trips in America, I absolutely have to include a famous one on the east coast of this beautiful country. known as the Blue Ridge Parkway. This gorgeous stretch of highway runs from the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina to the beautiful Shenandoah National Park, in Virginia.
This road trip, nearly 470 miles of wildflower and foliage bliss is sometimes referred to as America's Favorite Drive, and for good reason. This is a very old road, with parts of the road having been constructed back in the 1930s, during the Great Depression. This is an especially scenic and gorgeous drive in the fall, when all of the foliage is at it's glorious best.
It pays to remember that the speed limit throughout much of this parkway is 45 miles per hour, and to allow extra time for that. You wouldn't want to go any faster than that anyway, just to be sure to take in the beauty of this area. The beautiful red maples, dogwood trees and tulip trees look especially magnificent in the fall. And visitors will not want to miss a trip to Grandfather mountain, with its famous swinging bridge. Be sure to watch for wildlife along this pretty parkway, you might see a black bear or a pretty whitetail deer!
Scenic mountain overlooks, glorious foliage and spectacular scenery make this a very worthwhile drive any time of the year, especially in the fall.
The Hana Highway On The Island Of Maui ~ Also Known As The Road To Hana
The Famous Hana Highway On The Island Of Maui
One of the most twisting, turning and winding roadways in America is found on the Island of Maui in the Hawaiian Island chain. We actually drove on this road when we lived in Hawaii for three years, and it was a gorgeous, spectacularly scenic drive. This historic roadway is also known as the Road To Hana or the Hana Highway.
It is also a bit of a difficult drive for the person driving! So many twists and turns call for constant attention to the roadway. There are over 600 hairpin turns and over 50 one lane bridges on this road! It is amazing. This is a spectacular drive that offers beautiful views, and stops are not only a necessity, especially for the driver, but everyone will want to stop to check things out along the way.
One place to stop for sure is the burial site of the famous aviator Charles Lindberg. He passed away on August 26, 1974 from cancer, and was buried in a small church yard alongside the road to Hana. I had actually forgotten about this interesting stop until my husband reminded me. Even though we drove on the Hana Highway back in 1985, he still remembered seeing the grave site of Charles Lindberg there! When we saw it, it was well kept with a pretty flower lei on it in Mr. Lindberg's honor.
Driving along this scenic roadway gives visitors an idea of what old Hawaii must have been like, back in the early plantation days and in the days of tiny little surf towns. Gorgeous botanical gardens and interesting caverns are must-sees along this historic route.
Stopping at the famous Waianapanapa State Park (try saying that three times fast!) and you will see the world famous black sand beach and the pretty fresh water caves in the park. The beach is amazing, and well worth the trip! Interesting sights and magnificent natural beauty make this a splendid drive and a must-see on the Island of Maui.
The Pretty And Scenic Seward Highway In Alaska
The Beautiful Seward Highway in Alaska
The magnificent Seward Highway, linking the city of Anchorage to the little town of Seward, Alaska offers a memorable trip through some of the prettiest scenery found in Alaska. This is over 125 miles of pure bliss driving past humongous glaciers, amazing fjords and lush forestland.
Be watchful along this drive for some amazing wildlife sightings, as you may encounter the sights of beluga whales in the waters below, or pretty Dall sheep grazing among the cliff-sides. Travel alongside the majestic Chugach Mountains overlooking Cook Inlet, past beautiful waterfalls.
Two highly recommended stops along this scenic route include the famous Crow Creek Mine where visitors can pan for gold, and the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center where everyone can learn about the area and the wildlife and foliage all along this scenic byway. A leisurely trip is the most recommended way to travel, so you are sure not to miss any of the spectacular scenery and highlights of this amazing trip.
Take A Great American Road Trip!
Road trips are one of the great American pastimes, especially during the summer months. Why not try one of these beautifully scenic All-American Road Trips next time you embark on a vacation? It will lead you to an even deeper appreciation for all of the amazing, natural beauty found in these United States of America.