Bucket List June 20, 2022
Here Are 13 Of America’s Most Classic Road Trips
America is a country of wanderers and explorers, with a the pioneer spirit that runs deep. This is most epitomized by the
road trip, an American experiment in the early 1900s that quickly took off with the advent of the automobile. This drive to explore is quite literally a drive to explore, too, with the country connected by a series of the most scenic highways and byways, iconic bridges, and backcountry roads. Route 66 is the quintessential Great American Drive, but it’s by no means the only route worth traveling. Today we’re hitting the road on some of America’s most classic road trips, and we hope you’ll come along for the ride.
Historic Columbia Highway - Oregon
Historic Columbia River Highway, Historic Columbia River Hwy, Corbett, OR, USA
As America’s first scenic highway and a designated National Historic Landmark, the
Columbia River Gorge Scenic Highway
is a 70-mile route that, when you traverse, you'll understand why it's been hailed as “King of Roads.” Exploring one of the most wondrous places in the entire country, the scenic splendor of the Columbia River Gorge, with its 90+ waterfalls (on the Oregon side alone), dramatic vistas, and commanding canyons, is unrivaled along this bucket-list-worthy road trip.
Avenue of the Giants - California
Avenue of the Giants, California, USA
Considered one of the most popular redwood attractions in Northern California,
Avenue of the Giants
is one of those bucket-list items you need to check off at least once. The world-famous scenic drive goes above and beyond any other highway or road that you’ve traversed before; the entire 31-mile road is lined with the region’s most impressive and awe-inspiring redwood trees... quite the windshield view! When you want to explore the redwoods but don't feel like a camping trip or multi-day adventure, a drive along the iconic Avenue of the Giants is the perfect solution.
Pacific Coast Highway - California
Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Coast Hwy, Long Beach, CA 90803, USA
If the ocean has your heart and soul, there's no better route than the
Pacific Coast Highway
. One of the most famous scenic drives in the PNW, the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway stretches along Highway 1 for 656 miles, connecting Northern California and Southern California, Oregon, and Washington. It is one of the most astoundingly scenic roads in the world, meant to be traversed slowly while ogling the mountains, towering trees, expansive beaches, and endless blue skies. Construction on this modern-day marvel began in 1933, with the highway completed in small segments over the next several years. In fact, it was not until the 1964 state highway renumbering that the entire route was officially designated as SR 1. On this epic route, you'll be treated to stunning ocean views right outside your car window for an iconic experience that's every road tripper's dream.
Going-To-The-Sun Road - Montana
Going-to-the-Sun Road, Going-to-the-Sun Rd, Montana, USA
The U.S. is full of scenic byways and backcountry roads that will show you the best of
America the Beautiful
; of these routes, there’s one in Montana with a name that truly captures its splendor, and that's
. This trans-mountain highway is 50 miles of pure Montana majesty, carved out of the rugged terrain and mighty mountains of Glacier National Park. And while Glacier is certainly one of the most wondrous national parks in the country, Going-to-the-Sun Road takes the experience to another level entirely.
The Oregon Trail - Missouri to Oregon
Oregon Trail Trailhead-Ada County, Oregon Trail, Boise, ID 83716, USA
More than 200 years ago, as Westward expansion ramped up, folks felt an undeniable pull out West.
Today, intrepid explorers can travel the
more than 2,000-mile route of the infamous Oregon Trail
, which starts in Independence, Missouri, where, once upon a time, thousands of pioneers set forth upon the trail. Before heading out on your own modern-day odyssey, visit the National Frontier Trails Museum for perspective and inspiration. As you make your way across Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon, you’ll be surrounded by plains and desert landscapes, viewing the same stark and untouched landscape seen by thousands of brave folks. Keep an eye out for the tombstones of those who perished on the Oregon Trail, as well as the wagon wheel ruts they left behind; it's a humbling reminder of a sad period in American history.
Route 12 - Utah
Utah 12, UT-12, Escalante, UT, USA
is one of the most scenic highways in the Southwest -- and country. Receiving the designation of 'All American Road,' the highway is bookended by two National Parks -- Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef -- with many scenic points of interest in between. Reaching elevations of up to 9,000 feet, this drive is an epic journey for those who are not afraid of heights.
There are so many things to see along the way, as you drive through the jaw-dropping Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Dixie National Forest, and several small towns. After taking this amazing adventure, you'll surely agree that Route 12 is one of the most beautiful road trips in America.
Route 66 - Illinois to California
Route 66, Rte 66, Illinois, USA
In terms of Great American road trips, none compares to Route 66. Known as the
, this undulating ribbon of asphalt was the country's original road trip, launched in 1926 to connect the Midwest to the West Coast, from Chicago all the way to Los Angeles. In its heyday, Route 66 attracted thousands of road trip warriors each year; over the decades, motels, roadside attractions, and communities sprang up along the route. After it was decommissioned in 1985, it was no longer considered a major roadway, and travel started to wane. Traveling along this route truly is a bucket-list must for any self-described road tripper, as is visiting the eponymous Route 66 Hall of Fame & Museum, located in Pontiac, Illinois.
The Great River Road - Minnesota to Louisiana
The Great River Road, The Great River Rd, East Alton, IL, USA
We’ve all heard of the ‘Great American Road Trip,’ an epic adventure that leads travelers to all the amazing places this country of ours has to offer. But what about a road trip along the
Great River Road
? This resplendent road trip traces the course of the Mississippi River for 3,000 miles through 10 states, and will open your eyes to America the Beautiful. This All-American Road is lauded as *the* single-best scenic drive in the country, and it's hard to argue with such a superlative. From the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in Illinois and the Trail of Tears State Park in Missouri to the bayous of Arkansas and bustling streets of New Orleans, Great River Road truly is an All-American adventure for your bucket list.
Blues Highway - Tennessee to Louisiana
South Highway 61, US-61, Baton Rouge, LA, USA
Music is an inextricable part of America's history and culture, and U.S. Route 61, also known as
, is a true musical
tour de force
. This scenic route lets you drive through the land of the delta blues via Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana, a route often taken by musicians heading north to try and "make it big" in cities like St. Louis, Chicago. and Detroit. As a result, this scenic stretch of road has inspired countless songs that bear its name in the title or lyrics, making it a must for all music lovers and historians.
Blue Ridge Parkway - North Carolina and Virginia
Blue Ridge Parkway, Blue Ridge Pkwy, Cherokee, NC, USA
To drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia is to experience one of the most scenic routes in the U.S. Shared between North Carolina and Virginia, this
is 469 miles long and winds its way through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties, and connects with the Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Unlike the mountain passes in the West that go up and over mountains or the iconic "Notch" valley roads of the Northeast, Blue Ridge Parkway runs along the spine of the ridge, rolling up and down for the entire length. It's a prismatic feast for the eyes in all seasons, with dynamic displays of color in autumn, a lush forest landscape in summer, and dazzling white expanses in the winter.
U.S. Highway 1 - Florida
U.S. Highway 1, US-1, Jacksonville, FL, USA
If you're feeling the pull of the tropical paradise that is the Florida Keys, then
U.S. Highway 1
is the road trip for you. Highway 1 is an epic route that runs all the way from Georgia’s St. Mary’s River down into Florida's Key West, clocking in at 545 magnificent miles. This highway literally leads straight to the sea; the dazzling, crystal-clear cerulean expanse otherwise known as the Florida Keys.
Kancamagus Highway - New Hampshire
Kancamagus Highway, Kancamagus Hwy, Albany, NH, USA
Considered by many to be one of the most scenic drives in the Northeast, if not the entire country,
is a treasure trove of natural beauty. At just 36 miles long, Kancamagus Highway packs quite the scenic punch, rolling through charming covered bridges, past wondrous waterfalls, and into the heart of the lush White Mountain range. This drive is especially lovely in the autumn, when fall foliage paints the landscape of the Northeast in fiery reds, bold oranges, vibrant yellows, and buttery golds.
Hana Highway - Maui
Hana Highway, Hana Hwy, Hawaii, USA
It can take more than two and a half hours to travel the 52 miles from Kahului to Hana along the eponymous
, which traverses past sea cliffs lush with blooming mango trees and vistas straight out of "Jurassic Park." But this drive is not for the faint of heart. Hana Highway is perhaps the most popular scenic drive on the island of Maui -- and possibly all of Hawaii -- but it’s also nerve-wracking, to say the least. This incredible highway is home to a staggering
, making it the windiest road in the Aloha State, and one best attempted with a slow and steady hand (and foot!). But if you happen to have a strong stomach, there's no better way to revel in the resplendence of the Aloha State, making Hana Highway a bucket-list must.
How many of these classic routes have you traveled? This summer, buckle up and embark on a bucket-list adventure along one of America’s most classic road trips.
Address: Route 66, Rte 66, Illinois, USA Address: Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Coast Hwy, Long Beach, CA 90803, USA Address: Blue Ridge Parkway, Blue Ridge Pkwy, Cherokee, NC, USA Address: Historic Columbia River Highway, Historic Columbia River Hwy, Corbett, OR, USA Address: U.S. Highway 1, US-1, Jacksonville, FL, USA Address: Hana Highway, Hana Hwy, Hawaii, USA Address: Utah 12, UT-12, Escalante, UT, USA Address: Avenue of the Giants, California, USA Address: Going-to-the-Sun Road, Going-to-the-Sun Rd, Montana, USA Address: The Great River Road, The Great River Rd, East Alton, IL, USA Address: Oregon Trail Trailhead-Ada County, Oregon Trail, Boise, ID 83716, USA Address: Kancamagus Highway, Kancamagus Hwy, Albany, NH, USA Address: South Highway 61, US-61, Baton Rouge, LA, USA