California State Route 190 in Death Valley National Park.

10 Best Road Trips in the United States

Across the United States of America, roads and highways crisscross the country, tying and connecting people and places featuring some of the most beautiful landscapes and natural wonders. Some of the best examples include the sunny Pacific Coast Highway and the legendary Route 66, part of a big web of roads running through cities, towns, and all the natural wonders in between. These roads and highways are more than about getting from place to place; they are part of the destination and experience in and of themselves. They are also a reflection of what makes America such a special place! So, let us dive in and explore some of the best road trips in the United States.

The Road to Hana

Road to Hana, Hawaii
Road to Hana, Hawaii.

Set off from Kahului on Hawaii, cruise toward Hana along Maui's east coast, and there you have it: the winding Hana Highway. As you zip along a road, it is not a super long journey, but it is like going on a mini adventure with all its sharp turns and narrow bridges. This path is famous for how it zigzags, with many twists and curves, and all its one-way bridges. There is definitely some skill involved with this drive! The best part is driving through the lush green forests with waterfalls popping up here and there as you go, including the famous Twin Falls and Wailua Falls.

These spots are great for taking photos and sometimes even going for a swim. Near the end of your trip, make sure to check out Ohe’o Gulch. The stop is intensely pretty, with sights of pools and waterfalls tumbling right into the Pacific Ocean.

Grand Teton, Yellowstone, & Glacier National Parks Road Trip

Road from Yellowstone National Park to Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA
Road from Yellowstone National Park to Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.

How does 900 miles through some of the nicest mountain valleys in the country sound? Well, this trip weaves through America’s stunning national parks. You can see wildlife as there are many spots to get out for hikes and, of course, some of the region’s famous geysers. The dramatic Teton Mountain Range, with its jagged peaks, lay on one end, while the countless lakes and mountains of Glacier Mountain Park lie on the other. This road trip is truly breathtaking.

Right between those two points lies Yellowstone, famed for the iconic Old Faithful Geyser, the colorful Grand Prismatic Spring, and numerous other geysers and hot springs. This does not even include the bison, elk, and wolves that roam inside its borders! The best time to tackle this trip is between the end of June and the start of September when most roads and services are available.

Route 66

Street scene with classic car in front of souvenir shops in Williams, one of the cities on the famous Route 66
Street scene with a classic car on the famous Route 66. Image credit Jordi C via Shutterstock.

Is there a road in the U.S. as well-known as Route 66? It has appeared in songs and films and is deeply woven into what it means to be American. The road has a deeper meaning, too, standing for freedom, new chances, and the thrill of exploring. Running from Chicago to Santa Monica, the road was a key path for folks heading west in the 1930s, searching for a brighter future. Altogether, Route 66 is just under 2500 miles, going through natural wonders like the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest National Park. It also goes past towns like Tulsa, St. Louis, and many others. So, if you want to see the outdoors or take in some of the sights of a city, Route 66 truly has it all!

Olympic Peninsula Loop

Seven Lakes Basin on the High Divide loop, Olympic Peninsula, Washington State, USA.
Seven Lakes Basin on the High Divide loop, Olympic Peninsula, Washington State.

Olympic Peninsula Loop circles through the state of Washington, passing through rainforests, past glaciers, and beside beaches. You have found your match if you want a road where you can stop to explore the outdoors. At just over 300 miles, it is not as long as some trips on this list. It is the kind of road where you can take it slowly, stopping at landmarks as you circle the loop. Look out for places like Mount Ellinor, known for its easy-to-reach peak, and Lena Lake, perfect for day trips beside clear, blue waters. Looking for a chill day out? Swing by Port Townsend. It has vintage Victorian-style buildings and a laid-back city center that is perfectly inviting.

The Great River Road

The Great River Bridge over the Mississippi in Burlington, Iowa.
The Great River Bridge over the Mississippi in Burlington, Iowa.

This is no ordinary drive. This long, winding passage goes through 10 states, following the twists and turns of the Mississippi River. Altogether the drive spans over 2000 miles, through peaks, valleys, towns, and cities. When you are driving through this many states, it is more than just a drive. It is a lesson in the cultural essence of America. Some people will put aside weeks to tackle the entire length. Get lost easily? You will know you are on the right road by the green and white pilot’s wheel logo, making it simple for travelers to follow the route. Some of the best places to see along the way include the Itasca State Park in Minnesota or the cultural treasure of the French Quarter down in New Orleans.

Going-to-the-Sun Road

Evening view of Going to the Sun Road, Montana
Evening view of Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Quality, not quality. That is the simple rule of this trip, found in Montana's Glacier National Park. This trip is only 50 miles long but full of great scenery, like spring-time wildflowers, icy lakes, and top-notch mountain scenery. Passing through Logan Pass over the Continental Divide opens up an array of the park's diverse ecosystems. Some of the best spots to look for include Avalanche Creek, a beautiful spot featuring the Trail of the Cedars and the Avalanche Lake trailhead. The Weeping Wall is also a section of the road where water cascades down from the garden wall, often drenching cars in the early summer.

Pacific Coast Highway

Santa Monica gulf and mountains over renewed Pacific Highway descent.
Santa Monica gulf and mountains over renewed Pacific Highway descent.

The Pacific Coast Highway is an iconic way to see some of the best views available on the California coast. It has everything you would look for in a drive by the ocean. Also known as Highway 1, the drive is one of the most famous routes around the world. It covers just over 600 miles, passing cliffsides, thick forests, and the Pacific Ocean by your side. You can take this journey slow, with countless places to stop and explore, making for an amazing long adventure, or you can visit different towns one after another for a quick hop. Must-see spot choices include Carmel-by-the-Sea, the dramatic cliffs of Big Sur, Santa Monica, and even the Golden Gate Bridge.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Aerial view of Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina at sunset.
Aerial view of Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina at sunset.

This path is called "America's Favorite Drive" and cuts through the Appalachian Highlands. Its name means it passes through rolling mountains topped with lush forests. The best time to see it is in fall when the foliage turns all sorts of vibrant colors. The road links Virginia with North Carolina, providing a one-of-a-kind journey through the natural wonders and cultural history of the American South. Speed demons beware: the National Park Service looks after the road and is made for relaxed driving, and the speed limit usually does not exceed 45 mph. This way, travelers can go at a nice, slow pace and really soak in the surroundings.

Las Vegas to San Diego

California State Route 190 in Death Valley National Park
California State Route 190 in Death Valley National Park.

This path goes from a cool, breezy beach to a hot, dry desert. It mixes the fun energy of Las Vegas with the relaxed beach vibe of San Diego. It's the kind of drive that's great for the person who wants to explore all sorts of fun. It is that interesting combination of cities and nature that makes it so unique! The quality and variety of biomes you can see are unbeatable, such as the Cleveland National Forest or the Mojave Desert. The best time to head out on this trip is during the fall, winter, or spring as summer can be a tad hot. You should definitely check out places like Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Death Valley National Park while driving past.

Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway

Mount Rushmore National Memorial though the Doane Robinson Tunnel on Iron MountaIn Road part of the Peter Norbeck Scenic National Byway
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is through the Doane Robinson Tunnel on Iron Mountain Road, which is part of the Peter Norbeck Scenic National Byway.

This byway stretches over 70 miles and showcases the beautiful Black Hills in South Dakota. People love it for its views, with its rugged rock shapes, pine woods, and lots of animals to see as you drive by. But it can be more than just pretty sights; many say there is something special and spiritual about this place, almost like it touches your soul, making the Black Hills truly one-of-a-kind.

The drive is short but filled with iconic places. Custer State Park and the Mount Rushmore National Memorial are the two endpoints, with stops like the ongoing Crazy Horse Memorial construction on the way. One of the most popular segments of the drive is Iron Mountain Road, which forms a portion of the byway. It offers stunning views and unique features like its famous pigtail bridges and tunnels.

Driving through the United States, there is something new to see or experience on every new road. From Maui's rainforests to the famous Route 66, these trips let us deeply experience what makes this country's nature and culture special. Whether looking at the views on the Blue Ridge Parkway or experiencing the wild beauty of the Olympic Peninsula, the drive is all about exploring and finding new things, showing us why traveling by road is so appealing. So jump into the car, grab a map and just drive.


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