America's 22 Most Scenic Road Trips You Need To Take Before You Die

America’s 22 Most Scenic Road Trips You Need to Take Before You Die

The U.S. is a big, beautiful country with many hidden treasures that most people never get to see because they think of islands, ski resorts or Europe when it comes to vacation destinations. While these are adventurous options, they are also much more expensive than an exciting road trip with your family or significant other. Hit the road and explore a new place, meet new people, and try unique food. Find out first hand why this way of traveling is an American classic.

Red Rock Scenic Byway, Arizona

This short trip – just about 15 miles – is absolutely worth the effort. Every minute of it is filled with incredible sights of unbelievable views of the famous Red Rock Country of Sedona and adventures along the way. You can hike, bike, golf, and join tours to see just why the Red Rocks are unique. The byway starts in Sedona.

Park Loop Road, Acadia, Maine

The way to navigate through the stunning Acadia National Park is the Park Loop Road. This 27-mile road begins at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center (near Route 3 on the northern side of the island) and connects the Park's lakes, mountains, forests, and rocky coast. There are many hiking and climbing trails. Stop by Thunder Hole if you want to see just how powerful the sea can be.

Hana Highway, Hawaii

The Hana Highway on its own is a great reason to visit Hawaii. It is one of America's most scenic roads, and by far Hawaii's most famous and treasured pathway. It is almost 65 miles of pure beauty and thrill. You'll drive by steep sea-cliffs, see flourishing mango trees, and stop to soak in views that look like they are from the Jurassic Park movies with breathtaking waterfalls.

Overseas Highway, Florida

Also known as "the Highway that Goes to Sea," the Overseas Highway gives you the opportunity to explore the beauty of the 113-mile highway carrying U.S. Route 1 all the way through the Florida Keys. Open your windows as you drive over 42 overseas bridges and cross over coral and limestone islets. Also admire the clear waters, palm trees, and beautiful landscapes.

Million Dollar Highway, Colorado

Southwest Colorado's Million Dollar Highway is, for much of its length, an idyllic, breathtakingly beautiful alpine road that connects Durango to Ouray via three 10,000-plus-foot mountain passes. The modern highway remains open through the slip-and-slide snowy months, so be careful if you choose to go then. As the locals say, though, you'd have to "pay me a million dollars" to drive that stretch in the snow.

Pacific Coast Highway

This is definitely one of the most scenic roads in the entire country. If you want to go beach hopping, this is the road trip for you. The Pacific Coast Highway will take you to some remarkable beach towns, some can even be great for surfing, eventually leading to the famous Big Sur. The Bixby Bridge is a favorite spot for photos. Another one is McWay Falls, a cascade that falls about 70 feet into a remote beach.

Route 66

Traveling with a car along the legendary 2,400 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica is one of the craziest adventures you can do. The historic Route 66 has been featured in just about everything – TV, music, movies. Many places still keep the original two-lane highway. Along the way you'll also find stunning panoramascharming towns, rocky cliffs, and beautiful deserts and parks.

Peak to Peak Highway, Colorado

Take this road trip for supreme sights of the Front Range Mountains in the iconic Colorado Rocky Mountains. The road begins at CO Highway 7 in Estes Park, it passes Lily Mountain and Twin Sisters, then turns south just past Allenspark on CO Highway 72, goes to Nederland where it continues south on CO Highway 119, through Blackhawk, through Clear Creek Canyon and down to I-70.

Tunnel of Trees, Michigan

M-119 is a 27-mile Michigan state trunkline highway entirely within Emmet County. It's perfect for scenic bike rides as well as quick road trips. The nickname comes from the hardwoods and evergreens that crowd up to the edge of the road, their crowns knit into a comforting ceiling. The road winds from Harbor Springs to Cross Village. Spring is the best time to visit when trilliums cover the forest along the route.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia to North Carolina

This 469-mile road goes though Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Park and is one of the busiest in the country because of the breathtaking views of waterfalls, rivers, and mountains that it offers. The road is busting with colorful trees, forest canopy if you go in the summer, and meadows. For the best photos of the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge, go to Grandfather Mountain.

Nevada to Utah through Zion

This is one of the best drives for the winter in the entire country. Fly to Las Vegas, have some fun there for a night or two, and rent a car going to the park. It's just about 240 miles in one direction. Spend about a week driving through the desert to reach the high cliffs of Zion, Utah's first National Park. Winters there are not too harsh, which makes it a favorite time for hiking among many other outdoor adventures

Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire

Drive along the Kancamagus Highway and enjoy 35 miles of scenic byway displaying breathtaking scenery. It is often referred to as "the Kanc." Known as one of the best fall foliage viewing areas in the entire country, the Kancamagus Highway is designated an American Scenic Byway for its rich history, aesthetic beauty and culture. The road is a commerce-free climb past colonial farmhouses, scenic covered bridges, and miles of hardwood and evergreen forests.

Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana

This may only be a 50-mile trip but not a single mile goes by without a scenic view. The road cuts the Glacier National Park in half and it's a National Historic Landmark. You will see forests, lakes, deep ravines, and a variety of wildlife in one trip. If you stop at the St. Mary Lake, the second largest in the park, you'll be able to take startling photos of the 100-foot Virginia Falls.

Skyline Drive, Virginia

This is one of the best places to see stunning fall foliage outside New England. There are many picnic areas along the route. Many prefer the Elkwallow and South River because of the opportunities to "meet" raptors and many animals. The drive is also a great adventure destination for hiking, biking, and leaf peeping. Start from Front Royal and drive all of the 105 miles.

Seward Highway, Alaska

The most magnificent scenery in Alaska can be seen in the winter along the Seward Highway. This road trip is about 130 miles. Capture moments of incredible ocean views, waterfalls, and glaciers. Spend some time exploring Chugach State Park for sights of 3,000-foot peaks, take a look down at Bird Creek, and stop in Girdwood to admire the wildflowers. Also, don't forget to pull over for a photo op at the famous Canyon Creek.

Minnesota to Wisconsin

Exploring amazing ice caves is a thrilling adventure, which you can embark on if you go on a road trip from Minnesota to Wisconsin in the winter. Get on Route 13 from Duluth and head to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The trip can take you anywhere between three and six days because it's about 250 miles, including coming back. You can go hiking into out-of-this-world icicles.

The Santa Fe Trail

Go on a trip through history dating back to 1821 when the Santa Fe Trail was a commercial highway between western Missouri and New Mexico. The trail, which is about 400 miles, crosses Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. See Old West-style prairies, mighty-looking volcanoes, and almost-deserted towns.

Great River Road

It's called the Great River Road because it's along the 10 states the Mississippi River passes. So if you have a fascination with the Mighty River, look no farther. You'll find lots of farms, upland meadows, swamps, thick forests, cliffs, parks, and wildlife refuges along the way. You'll come across a few malls and casinos, too.  

Beartooth Scenic Highway

This is a National Scenic Byways All-American Road. It's just about 70 miles and it winds its way through southwest Montana and northwest Wyoming. The road is the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies and provides dramatic views, unlimited outdoor recreation opportunities, and unparalleled wildlife watching.

Historic Columbia River Highway, Oregon

Last year was the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Columbia River Highway. At some point, take a couple of hours to cool off with a Columbia River Gorge hike through the rainforest. The state trail, three disconnected paved ribbons along abandoned stretches of the historic highway, give you more than 12 miles of sightseeing thrills, according to Oregon State Parks.

Valley of Fire, Nevada

The Valley of Fire State Park is a must-see spot for any outdoor enthusiast visiting Vegas and there's arguably no better way to take it all in than from 150 feet up on the side of Lone Rock, while you're rappelling down. Those with experience and equipment can do it alone after notifying park officials, but guide services are also available.

North Cascades Highway, Washington

This is the northernmost route across the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington. The picturesque road offers drivers and passengers a wide display of gorgeous panoramas. The 127-mile road, which takes about three hours, is part of the Cascade Loop, a 400-mile driving tour through the Cascades.