The 50 Most Beautiful Drives in the US
There’s nothing like a good old fashioned road trip. Whether just for an afternoon or for a few weeks, there’s just something about loading up the car and hitting the road. When it comes to once-in-a-lifetime road trips, the United States never disappoints. From waterfront drives along the Gulf Coast to mountain overpasses and fall foliage and canyon loops, these beautiful drives in the USA are going straight on our travel bucket list. We’ve rounded up the very best scenic drive in every US state… Which route will you be hitting up first?
The 50 Most Beautiful Drives in the US
1. Alabama – Alabama’s Coastal Connection
This 130 mile scenic byway connects the people and places in coastal Mobile and Baldwin counties and showcases the rich culture and flavour of Alabama’s Gulf Coast region. You’ll discover beautiful beaches, authentic downtowns, wildlife preserves, historic sites and the freshest seafood in the state.
2. Alaska – Denali Highway
135 miles of Alaskan wilderness make up this incredible scenic journey. Denali Highway is home to all the Alaskan gems like wildlife, glacial lakes, thick forests and the rugged mountainside. Be sure take note of the over 900 archaeological sites that are home to the Tangle Lakes which you will pass through.
3. Arizona – Apache Trail Loop
The Apache Trail’s famous Circle Route is a 40-mile scenic byway section of Arizona Highway 88 that begins and ends in Apache Junction, Arizona. This beautiful loop will take you through deserts, mountains, by cliff dwellings, along lake shores, through old mining towns and through beautifully eroded canyons. This scenic route has been a popular drive with tourists since 1922.
4. Arkansas – Sylamore Scenic Byway
This 26.5 mile pretty route will show you all the best of North Central Arkansas. The picturesque Sylamore Scenic Byway passes through the white oak-hickory forests and shortleaf pines found in the Ozark National Forest. The winding route offers viewing points of limestone cliffs and mountain vistas.
5. California – Rim of the World Scenic Byway
Head east from San Diego, Orange County, or Los Angeles, and take this beautiful road trip along the 110-mile-long Rim of the World Scenic Byway, so-called for its stunning views along the cliffs of the San Bernardino Mountains. Make the most of the many photo-ops along the route, such as Silverwood Lake Overlook off State Highway 138.
6. Colorado – Pikes Peak Highway
A great route near Colorado Springs is the Pikes Peak Highway. Take the trip up to the mountain’s summit and overlook the city. The 19-mile long road starts at 7,400 feet and climbs up to 14,115 feet at the top of the mountain. On your way up, you’ll see beautiful trees, serene lakes, hills and mountaintops.
7. Connecticut – New Milford, Kent, and Mount Tom State Park Loop
This 46-mile drive is perfect for fall foliage! The route swings past the Housatonic River; near two covered bridges; through Kent and its many art galleries, historic homes and churches and then Mount Tom State Park. Stop off in the park to hike up to Mt. Tom Tower as well as enjoy swimming in the Mt. Tom Pond.
8. Delaware – Delaware Bayshore Byway
What’s not to love about a road trip along Route 9, a scenic byway that follows for 100 miles along the Delaware River and Bay Estuary. Drive through historical small towns and lush marshes. Oh, and be sure to stop along the way for some of the best birding on the east coast.
9. Florida – Overseas Highway
125 miles of US Route 1 runs over turquoise blue waters through the Florida Keys. This epic road links all of the keys together, making it perfect for island hopping and getting to know the Florida Caribbean better. Load up the car and hit one of the most unique and scenic roads (Seven Mile Bridge is a real highlight) in the United States that’s been called a “magic carpet” as it connects one gem of an island after another…
10. Georgia – The Cohutta Wilderness Loop
It’s technically not a ‘loop’, more like a jumble of connecting roads, but this 87-mile route is heaven for outdoorsy folk. With more than 40,000 acres in Georgia and Tennessee (where its known as Big Frog Wilderness Area), the Cohuttas comprise the largest wilderness east of the Mississippi.
11. Hawaii – Road to Hana (Maui)
The legendary road to Hana is only 52 miles from Kahului; however, the drive can take anywhere from two to four hours to complete since it’s fraught with narrow one-lane bridges, hairpin turns and incredible island views. The Hana Highway (HI-360) has 620 curves and 59 bridges, so drive safe and take your time!
12. Idaho – Hells Canyon Scenic Byway
Hells Canyon Scenic Byway offers 22 miles of breathtaking views of the canyon while winding its way along the east side of the massive rift that separates Idaho from neighbouring Oregon. Towering cliffs of black and green basalt hang high above the Snake River and its sandy beaches.
13. Illinois – Route 66
There isn’t a road as historic or as memorable in the U.S. as Route 66. You’ll begin your legendary journey in the heart of downtown Chicago at the very start of Route 66 before you begin your 300-mile descent down the Mother Road. Expect plenty of kitsch, nostalgic eats, and quirky museums.
14. Indiana – Ohio River Scenic Byway
Make this 303 mile road trip route a relaxing historic tour, an exhilarating adventure or something in between. Three charming historic towns along the Scenic Byway are Vevay, Madison and Newburgh. Each offers antiques, artisans, relaxing B&Bs, quaint restaurants and beautiful views of the river.
15. Iowa – Loess Hills National Scenic Byway
When approaching the western border of Iowa, driver are often intrigued by the view of a most extraordinary landscape of prairie and forest covered steep bluffs, narrow ridges and rolling hills. This unique landscape is known as Iowa’s Loess Hills. This 200 mile scenic byway passes right through it, with impressive views.
16. Kansas – Western Vistas Historic Byway
Drivers travelling along the Western Vistas Historic Byway will experience the ”badlands” of Kansas and wide-open scenic views, where limestone formations reach to the sky. Here you can explore Fort Wallace, “the fightin-est Fort in the West,” walk in the footsteps of bison hunter Buffalo Bill Cody and visit Battle Canyon. This 102 miles route is a must-drive.
17. Kentucky – Country Music Highway
Running almost the entire length of Eastern Kentucky, the 151 mile-long Country Music Highway is a scenic byway devoted to the rich heritage and history of the region. You will be immersed in the traditions of Eastern Kentucky’s mountain music, since this byway has been home to over a dozen well-known country music stars, including Pike County’s own Patty Loveless and Dwight Yoakam.
18. Louisiana – Bayou Teche Byway
For a road trip that boasts both scenery and history, this is the perfect route. From its southernmost point in Morgan City to its northern end in Arnaudville, the byway crosses beautiful marshes and fields of sugar cane, connecting lovely towns that have well-preserved historic districts. Sample Acadian culture in cafés and dance halls that serve up Cajun and zydeco music along with boiled crawfish and étouffée.
19. Maine – Schoodic National Scenic Byway
The Schoodic National Scenic Byway crosses through Sullivan, Gouldsboro and Winter Harbor in downeast Maine. Take in views of Cadillac Mountain and Mount Desert Island along this drive. The opportunities for outdoor adventures on the trip are endless and the vibrant community of artisans, historic sites, museums, and places to experience the coast of Maine will leave you breathless.
20. Maryland – Mountain Maryland Byway
Take your time driving through peaceful glades, valley and marshlands, finally emerging from thick forest areas t0 find the shore of Maryland’s largest freshwater lake. The route starts in Keysers Ridge and finishes in Cumberland. Four seasons of outdoor activities — including hiking, skiing, fishing and boating — are available for anyone wishing to explore the Western Maryland countryside, as well as cute mountain towns along the 90 mile route.
21. Massachusetts – Central Hills Loop
Want a fall foliage road trip? Hop in the car and take in the beautiful autumnal landscape in Central Mass on this beautiful drive. The scenic byway of Route 122 is a 40 mile rural route running north and south from Paxton to Orange. The route connects forests and rivers for plenty of hiking, wildlife watching, boating, and biking opportunities. Be sure to stop off at Quabbin Reservoir, Gilbertville (a covered bridge) and Hamilton Orchards.
22. Michigan – River Road National Scenic Byway
The River Road National Scenic Byway travels westward from Lake Huron into the Huron-Manistee National Forests, with the road itself running parallel to the historic Riviere aux Sable (River of Sand). There’s plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy along the route, as well as lush forest and breathtaking vistas from the many scenic overlooks.
23. Minnesota – North Shore All-American Scenic Drive
Beginning in Duluth and winding along Lake Superior’s rugged North Shore to Grand Portage, this road offers stunning scenery at every turn. Lighthouses, waterfalls, and several state parks are among its many highlights. Small shoreline towns offer restaurants serving local fish and produce as well as unique shops and art galleries.
24. Mississippi – Gulf Coast Scenic Byway
The Gulf Coast Scenic Byway is the 18 mile stretch of roadway that runs through the cities of Pass Christian, Long Beach and Gulfport. Long Beach, Pass Christian and Gulfport are all home to historic downtown districts through which the byway either runs or borders to the south.
25. Missouri – Blue Buck Knob Scenic Byway
Each twist and straightway along this 25 mile byway offers stunning views. Cutting through the Mark Twain National Forest, the Blue Buck Knob Scenic Byway travels across wooded lands arrayed with oak and pine. The dense woodlands and streams dotting the landscape perfectly sum up Missouri’s Ozark hill country.
The forest’s beautiful views, cozy streams, and developed recreation areas, make this byway a fantastic route for any traveler.
26. Montana – Going-to-the-Sun Road
This jaw-dropping road spans the width of Glacier National Park, crossing the Continental Divide at 6,646-foot-high Logan Pass. It passes through almost every type of terrain in the park, from large glacial lakes and cedar forests in the lower valleys to windswept alpine tundra on top of the pass, with plenty of photo ops. The road is well worth traveling in either direction, as the view from one side of the road is much different than from the other! Due to the mountainous terrain of the highway, it is only open seasonally.
27. Nebraska – Sandhills Journey Byway
Incredible natural wonders feature along this 272 mile-long rural route, while dunes and the Nebraska National Forest rise from the plains. In spring, migrating sandhill cranes fill the sky. By night, the stars put on an incredible show, so pull over and enjoy a stargazing break once darkness falls.
28. Nevada – Burner Byway
There’s nothing like a wide-open highway that will make you fall in love with road trips all over again, and there is no better place for a wide-open highway than Nevada! Trace the route Burners take every August on their annual pilgrimage “home” to Burning Man from Reno, out to the Black Rock Desert and beyond.
29. New Hampshire – Three Rivers Scenic Drive
This picturesque 70 mile trip follows the twisting turns of three rivers – the Ellis, Peabody, and Androscoggin Rivers. You’ll start the road trip in Jackson, with some great stopping points along the to Errol, including the viewing platform for the 64-foot Glen Ellis Falls. We suggest you take your time and get out of the car to explore en route!
30. New Jersey – Bayshore Heritage Scenic Byway
The Bayshore Heritage Scenic Byway stretches approximately 122 miles from the Delaware Bay in Mannington Township to Cape May at New Jersey’s southernmost tip. Along the way, you’ll have stunning views of the Delaware River and Bay, farm land, historic architecture and wildlife, with stopping points in historic villages.
31. New Mexico – Jemez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway
This pretty 149 mile loop offers a convenient and rewarding way to experience the best of Northern New Mexico—in just one day! The road goes past Jemez Pueblo, cutting through Jemez Springs. Along the way, visit Soda Dam – a unique formation of colorful “petrified” water shaped like a domed falls; or Spence Hot Springs, with a choice of hot and warm pools and sweeping views of the canyon below.
32. New York – Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway
Take a drive on this 52-mile route through the Catskills and absorb the beautiful mountain scenery, waterways, and farmlands. This unique Catskills route offers mountain scenery, waterways, rolling farmland, and more. Make a stop in the historic hamlet of Pine Hill, home to Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, or take a detour on the Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway.
33. North Carolina – Blue Ridge Parkway
This scenic 232 mile drive winds along the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy some of the best mountain views in the world. There’s so much to admire en route; as the Parkway approaches Asheville, it offers breathtaking views of some of the highest peaks east of the Mississippi River and access to the area’s best hiking trails.
34. North Dakota – Enchanted Highway
Home to a collection of the world’s largest scrap metal sculptures, the aptly named Enchanted Highway (dreamed up in 1989 by local artist, Gary Greff) is a whimsical 31 mile drive with cute picnic areas to stop off at along the road. Sculptures include “World’s Largest Tin Family,” “Teddy Rides Again,” “Pheasants on the Prairie,” “Grasshoppers in the Field,” “Deer Crossing” and “Fisherman’s Dream.”
35. Ohio – Covered Bridge Scenic Byway
Covered bridges …. Ohio once had more of these than any other state: over 2000 of them! You’ll come across four covered bridges on this route. This scenic byway travels across some of Ohio’s most beautiful countryside and many visitors choose to stop along its route, to camp and savour the natural beauty of this area – we suggest you do too!
36. Oklahoma – Mountain Pass Scenic Byway
This beautiful road follows US Highway 259 for 23 miles between Page, Oklahoma and Octavia, Oklahoma. The drive crosses the tops of the Ouachita Mountains and cuts through the 26,445-acre Winding Stair Mountain National Recreation Area, with breathtaking views of the mountain slopes as you drive.
37. Oregon – Hells Canyon Scenic Byway
Hells Canyon Scenic Byway is a 208 mile drive that offers breathtaking views of the canyon while winding its way along the east side of the massive rift that separates Idaho from neighbouring Oregon. Towering cliffs of black and green basalt hang high above the Snake River and its sandy beaches. Plan ahead – you’ll find stretches of more than 80 miles without gas and with few services!
38. Pennsylvania – PA Route 6
US Route 6 in Pennsylvania is perfect for touring by car, motorcycle, motorhome or camper. You’ll experience history and heritage, small towns, and wondrous sights along this 427-mile route. Fall here is magical, with colourful foliage in the 19 state parks, six state forests, and the Allegheny National Forest along the way.
39. Rhode Island – The Newport Loop (Ocean Drive)
This famous drive loops around the Newport island’s rugged Atlantic Ocean coast, passing by historic mansions built between 1865-1914. The real highlight stopping point for Ocean Drive is Brenton Point State Park. Located perfectly at the south end of the island, it faces out into Rhode Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.
40. South Carolina – Ashley River Road
Part of Ashley River Historic District, this charming road is thought to be the oldest road in South Carolina still in use today. A moss-draped live oak tree canopy draped over the 11.5-mile stretch of the Ashley River Road preserves its historic character.
41. South Dakota – Badlands Loop Scenic Byway
It only takes about one hour to drive the loop of South Dakota Highway 240 between the towns of Cactus Flat and Wall without stopping, but almost no one does that. This loop passes through the most amazing buttes, cliffs and multi-coloured spires of Badlands National Park. Stop at any (or all!) of the 16 designated scenic overlooks that for amazing photo opportunities.
42. Tennessee – Newfound Gap
At an elevation of 5,046 feet, Newfound Gap is known as the lowest pass through the Great Smoky Mountains. The road passes through a variety of forest ecosystems ranging from cove hardwood, pine-oak, northern hardwood, and spruce fir, similar to forests in New England and eastern Canada. Make sure you bring a jacket for the viewpoints, as temperatures can be 10° F lower up here!
43. Texas – Lonesome Highway
This never-ending stretch of road leads to the breathtaking Guadalupe Mountains. On the 59 mile-long Lonesome Highway, you’ll see very few cars but plenty of gorgeous candy coloured skies and wide-open Texas plains. To get there, travel west on Highway 285 until it intersects with Highway 180.
44. Utah – All-American Road: Scenic Byway 12
Highway 12 is one of the most scenic highways in America. It winds through canyons, red rock cliffs, pine and aspen forests, alpine mountains, national parks, state parks, a national monument, and quaint rural towns. On your 119 mile drive you’ll discover the vast Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument and the beauty of Boulder Mountain.
45. Vermont – Edson Hill and West Hill Loop
This scenic 10.5 mile drive loops around the Stowe’s village before traveling up Mountain Road – where you’ll have plenty of chances to stop, shop or grab a snack on the way to to Edson Hill. This drive will take you through farmland in the northwest corner of Stowe. Maple trees lining the road as you start up Edson hill and down West Hill are at their most beautiful in fall.
46. Virginia – Skyline Drive
This scenic 105 mile byway travels through Shenandoah National Park, a beautiful, historic national treasure. It encompasses vibrant small cities, rural hamlets, mountains, rivers, national forests and state parks as well as the national park.
47. Washington – North Cascades Scenic Highway
Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that that the North Cascades Highway is the most scenic drive in Washington State. As the road loops (with hairpin turns!) for 140 miles between massive peaks and along lakes colored turquoise by glacial silt, you’ll see why these mountains are called “the American Alps.”
48. West Virginia – Highland Scenic Highway
The Highland Scenic Highway is a beautiful corridor through Monongahela National Forest. The road rises from an elevation of 2,300 feet to more than 4,500 feet. With no less than four scenic overlooks, you’ll find plenty of spectacular places to stop and enjoy the view of the Allegheny Mountains on this 43 mile route.
49. Wisconsin – Wisconsin Great River Road National Scenic Byway
Also known as Highway 35, this is a 250-mile scenic drive along the Mississippi River. Stretching from Prescott to Potosi, the byway offers breathtaking views best enjoyed while meandering through 33 charming small river towns dotted with artist’s galleries, wineries and historic sites.
50. Wyoming – Mirror Lake Scenic Byway
Mirror Lake Scenic Byway starts in the southwest Wyoming town of Evanston and travels south along Wyoming Highway 150. The byway then crosses into Utah, winding through the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest before ending in Kamas. Travellers can take in views of the beautiful Uinta Mountains along the drive’s Wyoming section.