The 'Most Scenic Road Trip' In America Is A Route Boasting The Absolute Best Of The West

Epic cross country road trips are the perfect way to travel across the United States. The country might be scattered with countless international and domestic airports, but when you fly, you're often routed to the largest city near your destination — and you miss out on all of the enchanting American small towns and stunning natural wonders in under-the-radar locations. If you're the type of traveler who loves discovering hidden gems and enjoys the flexibility to spend some extra time exploring a spot you find particularly interesting, consider planning your very own Great American Road Trip. Call it cliché, but when it comes to travel, sometimes the journey is even more magical than the destination.

Whether you've lived in the United States all your life or you're visiting the expansive North American country for the very first time, embarking on a road trip is an ideal way to explore. The Great American Road Trip has been immortalized time and time again in classic movies and literature. You can join the likes of legendary writers like John Steinbeck and Jack Kerouac by packing the car and hitting the road. If you're looking for the ultimate drive through America's landscapes, consider traveling U.S. Route 89, nicknamed The National Park Highway. The 1,760 mile route stretches all the way from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. Along the way, you'll pass through some of the best scenery and iconic landmarks in the country.

Traveling Route 89

One of America's most scenic road trips, Route 89 attracts thousands of travelers each year who wish to experience the country's natural beauty and fascinating history. If you plan to experience the whole drive, along with the scenic alternative routes along the way, it's best to budget at least three weeks for your trip in order to have enough time to explore the many points of interest. In a pinch, you can complete the trip in as little as two weeks.

If you complete Route 89 in its entirety, you'll have the opportunity to explore five states including Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. More than a hundred cities and towns beckon road trippers to make pit stops en route. Along the way, you'll be able to stop at seven of the nation's most incredible national parks. Epic views of the rugged Rocky Mountains, thick forests, and majestic canyons will leave travelers awe-inspired. In addition to the natural wonders, you'll have the chance to visit more than 10 National Monuments, Historical Parks, and Recreation Areas as well as three Indigenous American reservations.


The best place to begin your journey along Route 89 is in the expansive state of Montana. The road begins near the Canadian border in the foothills of the beautiful rocky mountains. You'll quickly reach the first of the scenic road trips highlights — Blackfeet Nation and Glacier National Park. Blackfeet Nation encompasses over 1 million acres, and visitors can learn more about Indigenous culture at the Blackfeet Heritage Center and the Museum of the Plains Indians.

Glacier National Park's entrance is under an hour away from the reservation. It's one of the last places in the country where you can see glaciers up close. It's often called "The Crown of the Continent" due to its natural beauty. The landscape is a gorgeous combination of lush pine forests, sparkling blue glacial lakes, and plummeting waterfalls. Visitors can enjoy more than 700 miles of hiking trails, biking, boat tours, scenic drives, and camping. For even more Montana fun, consider stopping for a few days at one of the state's guest ranches for some horseback riding.


Yellowstone National Park is without a doubt one of the most iconic places to visit in the United States, and the country's first ever national park. Established in 1872, Yellowstone remains one of the most incredible areas of preserved wilderness in the world. It covers more than 2 million acres across three states including Montana and Idaho, but the majority of the land is in Wyoming. There are more than 900 miles of hiking trails within the park that take you to sites like the famous Old Faithful Geyser. Within the park, there are about 290 waterfalls and over 600 lakes and ponds. It's a hotspot for hydrothermal activity with more than 10,000 hot springs, geysers, mudpots, and fumaroles. The park is a dream come true for wildlife lovers, with over 67 species of mammals like bears, moose, bison, wolves, lynx, bobcats, and many more. Bird enthusiasts will love spotting any of the 285 species that can be found within the park.

Wyoming is also home to Grand Teton National Park. It's not as popular as Yellowstone, but it shouldn't be skipped during your Route 89 road trip. Enjoy gorgeous views of the Teton Mountains and activities like hiking, camping, biking, and mountain climbing. Make sure to carve out some time to explore some of Wyoming's lovely small towns as you pass through your drive. Many of the villages maintain their historical charm and will leave you feeling as though you've traveled back in time to the Wild West.

Idaho and Utah

Route 89 passes through Idaho just briefly before looping into the state of Utah. Bear Lake, which sits right on the border of the two states, makes an excellent place to stop. Enjoy a day or two swimming in the beautiful turquoise waters and exploring the nearby small towns.

Once you enter Utah, the landscape will begin to change. The grassy scenery of the Great Plains will slowly be replaced by rugged desert. Expect warmer temperatures as you begin to see the gorgeous red rock formations come into view. There are two amazing national parks to explore during the Utah portion of the road trip, including Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon. Route 89 passes right through both. Zion is famous for its massive red sandstone cliffs and bucket-list hikes like Angels Landing and The Narrows. It's also a popular destination for rock climbers.

Bryce Canyon National Park is most well known for its fascinating rock formations, called hoodoos, which are tall spires layered with colors of red, orange, and white. They formed over millions of years due to the forces of the elements. You'll also be able to explore some gorgeous slot canyons and natural amphitheaters within the park. Stargazing is incredible in Bryce Canyon due to the lack of light pollution, and in 2019 it was named an International Dark Sky Park.


Arizona is home to even more natural beauty and cultural treasures. You'll pass through portions of the Navajo Nation and epic landmarks including the Grand Canyon National Park. The Grand Canyon is something every nature lover needs to see at least once in their lifetime. Carved by the Colorado River, it is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and stretches 277 miles with a depth of 6,000 feet at its deepest point. You can take in the views from above or embark on a difficult Grand Canyon hike that is not for amateurs. 

After leaving the Grand Canyon, continue on Route 89 to Flagstaff and enjoy the scenery. You can head off route for a bit and reach the gorgeous bohemian city of Sedona. Other highlights along the route in Arizona include historic treasures like Montezuma Castle, Casa Grande Ruins, and Tumacácori National Historical Park.

By the time you reach the end of Route 89 in Arizona, you'll be immersed in the magical desert landscapes of the southwestern United States, so take a few extra days to explore Saguaro National Park that is located just outside of Tucson, Arizona, in the Sonoran Desert, which stretches through parts of Arizona, California, and Mexico. The park is named for the iconic saguaro cacti, the largest species of cacti in America, which have become a symbol that is synonymous with the American West.

Planning your trip along Route 89

The best time to embark on an unforgettable journey along America's most scenic road trip is during the summer and early autumn months if you plan on completing the entire route. You'll cross through a variety of climate zones as you travel, so planning the perfect time to go is a bit challenging. In the northernmost portion of the drive, through Glacier National Park, many of the roads may begin to close as early as September and they won't reopen until June, or sometimes as late as July. On the flip side, southern Arizona remains scorching hot throughout the summer, and the best time to visit is from October through May. If you're able to take the drive nice and slow, and space it out over a month, you can begin at the Canadian border in Glacier National Park in late August or early September and end in southern Arizona in late September or early October when the temperatures are less extreme.

If you plan on starting at Glacier National Park, there are two international airports to choose from: Great Falls International and Glacier Park International are both excellent options that allow you to hop on Route 89. If you're starting in Arizona, you can fly into Tucson International or Phoenix Sky Harbor.