America's Most Scenic Roads from America's Most Scenic Roads

America's Most Scenic Roads

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America's Most Scenic Roads

If you feel like going on a getaway vacation, few can be more spontaneous than a road trip, which for many is the perfect way to travel. You just grab some food and water, fill up the tank and hop in the car.

Considering how cheap gas is these days, you are running out of excuses not to crank up the music and hit the open road.

You don’t even have to know your destination; part of the adventure is to handle whatever comes your way. Just make sure you’ve covered the essentials – your car is insured and in good condition; the tires don’t need changing; you have a cell phone charger, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, a map, warning triangles, and duct tape.

The roads in the U.S. are spectacularly diverse, offering even more stunning views. You’ll enjoy thrilling landscapes with mountains, valleys, coasts, forests, lakes, to name a few, along the way.

No matter where you live – from Hawaii to New Hampshire – there is a road with magnificent views just waiting for you to enjoy and draw inspiration from. Think about that next time you’re sitting in traffic.

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1. Hana Highway, Hawaii

The Hana Highway is by far Hawaii’s most famous, and treasured, road. 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 and swim holes along the way. If you go all the way, you’ll make more than 600 turns and drive through shorelines, bridges and hills.

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2. U.S. Route 1, Florida

U.S. 1 runs between the beach and Interstate 95 along Florida's east coast. You won’t get any closer to the coast. Start with Fort Lauderdale, drive by North Miami and enjoy a few beaches, some of which are more secluded than others, continue to South Beach, following the signs to Key West for more adventures. Enjoy the 120-mile-long island chain of Florida’s Keys. You will find yourself in beach bars and water sports heaven. Make sure you drive on the iconic 7 Mile Bridge, one of the longest in the world.

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3. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina and Virginia

Designed as a recreational drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway provides both stunning scenery and close-up looks of the natural beauty through the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah national parks, which are especially beautiful in the spring. The road is about 500 miles long and busting with colorful trees, forest canopy if you go in the summer, and meadows. If you want to snap an amazing picture of the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge, go to Grandfather Mountain.

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4. Highway 61 along Lake Superior, Minnesota

The stunningly beautiful road clings to the rugged shores of Lake Superior. You won’t find a better spot to take photos of granite cliffs, lavish North Woods spectacular forests and lighthouses. You’ll have many options for recreational activities along the way – fishing, bird watching, wave watching and spring hiking. Highway 61 spans the river mid-waterfalls. The drive-by view is awesome, but if you stop and walk the pedestrian bridge, it will be stunningly gorgeous.

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5. Pacific Coast Highway, California

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, a rugged stretch of California’s central coast between Carmel and San Simeon. Drive Big Sur’s length via twisting Highway One. The Bixby Bridge is a favorite spot for photos. Another one is McWay Falls, a cascade that falls about 70 feet to a remote beach.

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6. Pikes Peak Highway, Colorado

The road is about 19 miles running from Cascade to the summit of Pikes Peak at an altitude of 14,115 feet. You’ll need to sharpen your driving skills before heading out because this highway has a lot of twists and sharp turns. Recreational activities include hiking, picnicking, biking and fishing. Warning: There are no gas stations along the highway.

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7. Park Loop Road, Acadia National Park, Maine

The way to navigate through Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island 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 - but master these skills first - for the more adventurous visitors. Make sure you stop by Thunder Hole if you want to see just how powerful the sea can be – there will be some roaring bursts of water as high as 40 feet on windy days.

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8. San Juan Skyway, Colorado

It will take you about six hours to drive the whole length of San Juan Skyway. If byways could claim royal lineage, this one would probably rule them all, according to the Colorado DOT.  Start with the major towns along the route - Durango, a well-preserved descendant of the Old West. Don’t forget Mesa Verde National Park, home to one of the densest collections of prehistoric ruins in the country. The road snakes through the woods in the shadow of 14,000-foot peaks.

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9. High Road to Taos, New Mexico

The 56 miles between Santa Fe and Taos offer a charming view but twisted road through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Take a ride for a couple of hours and drive into the beauty of the high desert. This road is a beautiful way to experience the state and visit a lot of historical places along the way. Anywhere you turn, you’ll see endless-looking mountains, ancient Indian pueblos, deserts (here's how to stay alive) and forests.

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10. Route 100, Vermont

The best time to hit this scenic road is in the fall. Even though it is beautiful all year-round, there is something about the fall foliage that makes it absolutely heavenly. The rolling hills, a twisting river, pristine lakes, mountains, valleys, untouched forests, and the typical Vermont towns along the way are worth the 200-mile trip. Follow the Black River, passing the sparkling waters of Lake Rescue, Amherst and Echo Lakes.

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11. Botany Bay Road, South Carolina

The road is quite tiny, compared to the others on this list. Botany Bay Road is just about half a mile but the experience is surreal (like these sunsets). You’ll feel as if you’re driving to a vampires’ place of residence. It’s a bit creepy but in an exciting kind of way. The road leads to an old plantation on Edisto Island, a must-see attraction in South Carolina.

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12. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana

This may be an only 50-mile trip but not a single miles 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. Don’t be intimidated by the tall mountaintops all around. But don’t look up so often because the road can get quite narrow at times. 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.

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13. Bayou Cruise, Louisiana

The name may give it away, but this road is famous for the low-laying windy bayous. The best way to get there is driving on Highway 31; the road is just west of New Orleans. The massive oaks and cypress trees along the way, where you can possibly encounter alligators (who can be just part of a scary experience in some national parks), make the trip a lot more exciting. Stop by Breaux Bridge for stunning photos.

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14. Route 66, Illinois to California

This is the ultimate American trip – the legendary 2,400 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica. It has been featured in just about everything – TV, music, movies. Many places still keep the original two-lane highway. The most popular locations along the trip are in the Southwest but Illinois has something to offer as well. Stop by Pontiac and visit the Route 66 Association Hall of Fame & Museum. Along the way you’ll also find stunning panoramas, charming towns, rocky cliffs, and beautiful deserts and parks. If you really want to see what it’s like to be “alone” on the road, go west from Kingman past the saguaro cacti and loose boulders. You’ll get to Oatman, an old gold-mining town. Don’t forget to visit the Meteor Crater in Arizona, which is 50,000 years old.

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15. Kancamagus National Scenic Byway, New Hampshire

The Kancamagus National Scenic Byway, often referred to as “the Kanc,” is a 34.5-mile picturesque drive along Route 112. It is known as one of the best fall foliage viewing areas in the entire country. The Kancamagus Highway is now 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 forest. Make sure you stop by Sabbaday Falls, just east of the crest.

America's Most Scenic Roads