The Most Scenic Winter Drive in Every State from The Most Scenic Winter Drive in Every State
The Most Scenic Winter Drive in Every State
Winter is right around the corner and many people are looking forward to planning their vacation getaways. But aren't you tired of visiting just one destination and being confined to sightseeing there? Luckily, there is an alternative. Head out on a road trip and explore the open road.
Instead of rushing from point A to point B, enjoy the journey. Drive without a destination. Make stops along the way and capture the beauty. Road trips offer you the opportunity to really soak up your surroundings. You will wind through mountain ranges, drive along coasts, and explore pristine nature and wilderness.
So, get your camera ready. Crank up the tunes and hit the open road; because let’s be honest, unless you’re crossing the ocean, a road trip is the best way to travel. After all, this is how you’re going to witness marvelous scenic panoramas and explore off-the-beaten-path destinations.
Alabama: Talladega Scenic Drive
View Alabama from its highest point at 2,407 feet above sea level on this stunning scenic drive. Along the ride you will have the opportunity to view the Appalachian Mountains and immense tracts of unspoiled nature. This is a short ride — only approximately 26 miles — so make sure to add it to your bucket list.
Alaska: Seward Highway
Those looking for a magical winter wonderland should look no further than this drive along the Seward Highway. Capture 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. This road trip is about 130 miles.
Arizona: Red Rock Country
Hop on Interstate 17 and head to Montezuma Castle National Monument. This extraordinarily preserved ancient cliff dwelling will take your breath away. Continue driving on State Route 179 north, which is known as Red Rock Scenic Byway, and go to the Slide Rock State Park where you can actually do what the name suggests — slide down waterslides carved into the rock.
Arkansas: Highway 23
Also known as “Pig Trail Scenic Byway” this road trip is known for its hairpin turns. Travel about 24 miles from Highway 23 to U.S. Highway 71 through Ozark National Forest for impressive views. Nature lovers will want to stop and hop out at the National Forest for photographs of the landscapes and nature.
California: Route 66
This is the ultimate American trip — the legendary 2,400 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica. It has been featured in just about every element of pop culture from books to TV, music, movies, and more. The trip is also authentic. Many places still keep the original two-lane highway. A wonderful drive on California’s stretch of Route 66 includes views of the Mojave Desert and stunning panoramas of charming towns, rocky cliffs, and beautiful deserts and parks.
Colorado: Million Dollar Highway
Built in the 1880s, this famous road, known for its “million-dollar views” and winding highway will quite literally take your breath away. It runs from Colorado to New Mexico. Make sure to take your camera to capture photos of the stunning panoramic mountain views, snow-capped peaks, and surrounding wildlife. While you are there make sure to check out Animas Forks, the hot springs of Trimble Spa and the impressive Animas River Gorge.
Connecticut: Coast Scenic Drive
History lovers will enjoy reveling in the snow-covered beauty of this historic coastline. This 71-mile-long drive will reward you will the opportunity to pass through numerous villages, pristine beaches and woodlands. Make sure to stop along your journey to climb the famous Five Mile Point Lighthouse.
Delaware: Delaware's Atlantic Coast
This 25-mile drive along Delaware’s Atlantic Coast offers a quiet and peaceful ambiance. This is the perfect road trip for nature-lovers — and winter is the perfect time to visit, as the tourists have not arrived yet. Enjoy a quieter atmosphere and make sure to visit the Rehoboth Art League.
Florida: A1A Florida State Road
Florida is known for its mild temperatures during the winter months — so although you aren’t likely to see snow, this 338-mile highway is full of stunning landscapes. Capture gorgeous seaside views and gorgeous scenery and historic sites along the way. Along your journey make sure to go horseback riding at Amelia Island, drive aboard the St. Johns River Ferry and walk along the Jacksonville Beach boardwalk and go golfing in Ponte Vedra Beach.
Georgia: Woodpecker Trail, Highway 21
This 204-mile drive along Georgia State Route 121 will offer you an abundance of wildlife sightseeing. The Woodpecker Trail is one of the oldest routes in the United States. Make sure to stop off at the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge to see robins, woodpeckers and cranes. For the best views, spend the day driving north of the town of Metter, then spend a day driving south.
Hawaii: Hana Highway
This is an approximately 52-mile drive that connects Kahului to Hana. Along your trip you will pass over approximately 59 bridges that alternate between mountain streams and sea cliffs. Enjoy spectacular views of tropical rainforests, waterfalls and gorgeous beaches.
Idaho: Northwest Passage Scenic Byway
This 202-mile route will take you across Idaho between Montana and Washington. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Clearwater and Snake Rivers. Many believe that the best route to take is across the heart of the ancestral homeland of the Nez Perce tribe. History lovers will want to visit the Nez Perce National Historic Park and the Lewis & Clark Discovery Center.
Illinois: Route 66
Start your trip in downtown Chicago and cruise through the snow-covered farm towns and landscapes. For those of you who want to make a few stops along your trip make sure to visit one of the world’s most spectacular observation points, 360 Chicago. Check out Lincoln’s home in Springfield, the Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum in Pontiac, and Henry’s Rabbit Ranch in Staunton.
Indiana: Brown Driving Route
Known as the “Crossroads of America,” Indiana is famous for its many cultures and terrains. Start your trip in Rockville and make your way along the 24-mile Brown Driving Route. Enjoy spectacular views of white meadows and snow-covered bridges. The Brown County State Park is a must-see along your journey. It is the largest of the 24 state parks in Indiana and also the most visited. During the winter months you can enjoy cross-country skiing, alpine skiing and ice fishing.
Iowa: Loess Hills National Scenic Byway
Beginning on the western border of Iowa, this drive will spark enthusiasm in both drivers and passengers. Along the way you will see a unique land formation full of snow-covered landscapes, forests and rolling hills; an area known as Iowa’s Loess Hills. This landform spans over 1,080 square miles.
Kansas: Flint Hills National Scenic Byway
The dramatic snowy landscapes and distinctive terrain on this drive will leave you awestruck. Make sure you hop out of your car a couple times, as the Flint Hills area encompasses the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve and numerous historical sites. Wildlife is also in abundance; keep your eyes peeled for prairie falcons, coyotes and rough-legged hawks.
Kentucky: Red River Gorge Scenic Byway
Starting in Stanton Kentucky, this unique 46-mile drive takes you through the Daniel Boone National Forest. Revel in the beauty of the Red River and make sure stop at their many over looks and trails. There are also various attractions along the highway you must visit, some of which include the Nada Tunnel and Gladie Visitor Center.
Louisiana: Louisiana Great River Road Byway
For more than 700 miles this byway parallels the Mississippi River. History lovers will enjoy numerous historic milestones along the way. During this picturesque drive you will be amazed at the sites of rural homes, plantations, the state capitol and the famous New Orleans French Quarter. Make sure to stop along the way and enjoy their local food and music.
Maine: Park Loop Road
This scenic 27-mile drive through Acadia National Park is best experienced in the winter. Your journey begins at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center and takes you along a landscape of rocky coasts, forests, lakes and mountains. Popular sites along the way include Otter Cliff, Thunder Hole and Sand Beach.
Maryland: Keysers Ridge to Oakland (I-68, MD 42 and US 219)
Begin this drive at one of the most beautiful peaks in Maryland, Keysers Ridge. Head south to McHenry toward Deep Creek Lake State Park and Swallow Falls State Park for incredible views of waterfalls and ice formations. Muddy Creek Falls is especially intriguing, as it is the largest free-falling waterfall in all of Maryland.
Massachusetts: Massachusetts Highway 6A
Start your journey in Hyannis, and make sure to bring your camera. Along the way you will want to capture views of the stunning snow-covered Cape Cod National Seashore. If it’s not too cold, you will want to embark on a stroll through the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Reserve and Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
Michigan: Tunnel of Trees, Michigan Highway
This breathtaking winter drive takes you along the shore of Lake Michigan. The drive begins in Harbor Springs and ends in Cross Village. It’s a narrow 16-mile scenic road surrounded by broad leaf and pine trees. Imagine the beauty of these trees blanketed in snow. This is truly a winter wonderland.
Minnesota: Great River Road
There is no better way to capture the immaculate views of the Mississippi River than the Great River Road, also known as a National Scenic Byway. This 3,000-mile stretch will take you from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico, if you drive the whole thing. When you drive the Minnesota portion, you'll be able to take in rich city life, visit historic sites, and stopover at the Nature Conservation centers along the way.
Mississippi: Grenada Lake Loop
Contrary to what many people believe, Mississippi is full of rolling hills and a beautiful coastline. This 50-mile route is full of twists and turns. It takes you through striking pine woods and wildlife areas, while providing stunning views of Grenada Lake. Make sure to stop at Carver Point State Park and Hugh White State Park along the way.
Missouri: Blue Buck Knob Scenic Byway
Forty-five minutes is all you need to complete this spectacular drive. The Blue Buck Knob Scenic Byway takes you through the Mark Twain National Forest. Enjoy lovely winter landscapes full of woodlands, open pastures and streams. Stop off at the Blue Buck Overlook and Indian Creek Overlook for incredible photo opportunities.
Montana: Missoula to Sula Highway 93
Travel straight through the stunning Bitterroot Valley on this four-lane highway. Starting in Missoula, travel south to admire the gorgeous peaks and stunning backdrops blanketed in snow. You will encounter countless landmarks and historic sites along the way. Make sure to stop off at the Holt Heritage Museum and Bitterroot National Forest for hiking and outdoor learning opportunities.
Nebraska: Nebraska Highway 2
Wilderness lovers, brace yourselves. Highway 2, also known as the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway, “is known as one of the wildest, most natural spots left in the entire United States,” according to westnebraska.com. This drive runs 272 miles between Grand Island and Alliance. It offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the country.
Nevada: Route 50 in Nevada, Loneliest Road in America
It’s only 350 miles. If you want remote roads, this is the trip for you — certificates stating “I Survived the Loneliest Road in America” are even available to make it official. Buy qualifying cards in the towns of Ely or Fernley at either end of the route, and make sure you “check in” at points along your way — you’ll come across a few communities even though it seems like sagebrush and sand all around you and nothing else. You’ll also pass Dayton, which was once a Pony Express station and where Nevada’s first gold strike took place.
New Hampshire: Kancamagus Highway
Drive along this 35-mile scenic byway for the most breathtaking scenery in New Hampshire. The highway is designated an American Scenic Byway for its rich history, aesthetic beauty and culture. Along the way you will see striking snow-covered bridges, colonial farmhouses, and miles of white evergreen forests.
New Jersey: Route 519
Escape the hustle and bustle on this scenic drive. Route 519 takes you on a journey through a peaceful backroad between Colesville and Rosemond. Make sure you bring your camera to capture pictures of the small towns, countryside and farms. Along the way make sure you stop at the roadside attraction Space Farms and spend some time exploring the antique stores.
New Mexico: The High Road to Taos
The 56 miles between Santa Fe and Taos offer charming views along a number of state highways. Take a ride for a couple of hours and drive into the beauty of the high desert in the winter as snowflakes have likely settled on the pine trees. This road is a beautiful way to experience the state and visit a lot of historical places along the way.
New York: New York City to Pennsylvania
Beginning in northern Westchester County, this stretch of Route 6 – the longest transcontinental highway in the United States – will have you driving through an abundance of nature and wilderness. You can go skiing on your way, enjoy the views of forests blanketed in snow, or ice-skate on a frozen pond. Visit the Norman Rockwell countryside and choose to access one or more of the 19 state parks and six forests along the way.
North Carolina: Blue Ridge Parkway
Start in Asheville and head either north or south for some of the most remarkable mountain scenery in the country. Stunning backdrops and close-up views of the natural and cultural history of the southern Appalachian Mountains are just a few things you have to look forward too. Admire the stunning Biltmore Estate and make sure to stop and see the waterfalls and ice formations on rock walls.
North Dakota: Enchanted Highway
This 32-mile-long drive in Western North Dakota is beautiful during the winter months. Drivers and passengers will have the opportunity to view some of the most unique roadside art in existence. You will notice large metal sculptures lining the highway, some of which include “Teddy Rides Again,” “Grasshoppers in the Field,” “Worlds Largest Tin Family,” “Deer Crossing” and “Fisherman’s Dream.”
Ohio: Amish Country Byway
The 160-mile Amish Country Byway boasts views of natural panoramas along twisting curves and rolling hills. Along the way you will view vast fields, beautiful countryside and red barns that look spectacular against the contrast of white snow. Drive there for some fine Amish cooking, as well as historic sites featuring the history of Amish and German people.
Oklahoma: Route 66
Route 66, also known as the “Mother Road,” welcomes travelers year-round. However, the winter months are especially stunning. Make sure to visit the Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton along the way. There, you will learn about the history of transportation and the highway’s impact on American culture.
Oregon: Columbia River Highway
This historic highway was built for scenery. It was considered an engineering breakthrough when it was built and is now a National Historic Landmark. Drive along it and you’ll see the incredible Multnomah Falls, the tallest along the way, and Columbia River Gorge. One of the best places for majestic pictures is the Vista House at Crown Point. If you feel like diving past icy waters, go to the Oneonta Gorge.
Pennsylvania: Route 30
John M. Chase/Shutterstock.com
This charming drive takes you through the heart of Pennsylvania’s Chester County. Enjoy views of the Brandywine Valley and travel through the heart of Gettysburg all from the comfort of your own car. Make sure to pull over at the overlooks along the way; you will want to take photos of the snow-covered Appalachian Mountains. Also make sure to check out the American Helicopter Museum and Michaux State Forest.
Rhode Island: Route 1A
This picturesque drive along snow-covered coves and inlets will take you from Wickford to Narragansett. Along the way you will pass the John H. Chafee Nature Preserve and Narragansett Bay, where seals can be spotted. Make sure to stop off at the Point Judith Lighthouse and climb to the top for spectacular panoramic views.
South Carolina: Charleston to New Orleans, Louisiana
This trip is about 12 hours long, although you may want to allocate a lot more time, so you can enjoy everything the South, a region of great beauty, has to offer. This, of course, includes beautiful beaches, gorgeous scenery, wildlife and authentic Southern food — biscuits and gravy, fried chicken, shrimp and grits, to name a few.
South Dakota: Badlands Loop Scenic Byway
Approximately 38 miles of driving on the Badlands Loop Road will leave you awestruck for weeks ahead with the dozens of picturesque views and unique landscapes. Go to the Badlands National Park, with geological features slowly formed by deposition and erosion starting 69 million years ago. Cedar Pass Lodge is the only lodging and restaurant in the park. It’s going to be cold, but you can expect to not cross paths with many (if any) other people on your way, except the park rangers and maybe lots of sheep.
Tennessee: Gatlinburg to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Embark on the journey of a lifetime through the Great Smoky Mountains. Get the most out of your journey by taking US 231 and Interstate 40 East toward the park. Experience alpine beauty and a landscape blanketed by snow. Adventure enthusiasts will love hiking down the Appalachian Trail, skiing and snow tubing.
Texas: Big Bend National Park
This enormous park offers more than 100 miles of paved roads full of stunning landscapes, incredible geological formations and limestone cliffs. Winter in Texas calls for mild temperatures, which means hiking is also an option. While you are there make sure to also drive along Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive.
Utah: Arches National Park
Many people usually go here during the summer months, which means this beautiful region will likely be remote, just for you and your fellow passengers. Have you seen arches and red rocks sparkle with ice and snow contrasting with the clear blue sky? This natural phenomenon doesn’t happen in many places. The Scenic Drive passes many outstanding natural features. Don’t miss the Windows Section and see some of the park's largest arches. Drive to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint and see the world's most famous arch.
Vermont: Stowe to Rochester, Vermont’s Route 100
This is a 50-mile road trip along VT-100. Everything in Vermont is absolutely breathtaking, and many say the byway is the best route, especially if you want to pass by the quaint villages of the Green Mountains. Make sure you drive to the Mad River’s Moss Glen Falls. The trip amid the most gorgeous places in New England is a good choice for food lovers, too — there are plenty of breweries, wineries, creameries, and gourmet shops to choose from.
Virginia: Skyline Drive, Shenandoah National Park
You can start from Front Royal and drive all of the 105 miles on the Skyline Drive, which runs north and south along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah National Park. This is the only public road through the park. Mornings are going to be frosty but beautiful. Waterfalls crystallize in the winter, and more enthusiastic travelers can get to them by snowshoeing or skiing. There are many picnic areas along the route. Many prefer the Elkwallow and South River because of the opportunities to “meet” with raptors and many animals.
Washington: Cascade Valley Heritage Corridor
Following the Snoqualmie River, the Cascade Valley Heritage Corridor offers remarkable scenic views. Along the way you will cross bridges, wind through forests and pass a variety of historical sites. Make sure to stop off at the Snoqualmie Falls Overlook for views of the 270-foot Snoqualmie Falls, and check out the Northwest Railway Museum to admire the locomotives and passenger trains on display.
West Virginia: Farm Heritage Road
Part of the National Scenic Byway System, your journey on the 71-mile drive near the town of Shady Spring will reward you with snow-covered lavishness like you have never seen before. Situated within the Appalachians, the route passes by springs, resorts, farms and historic towns and buildings. While you are there make sure to visit Peters Mountain, Creek Covered Bridge and Sweetsprings Valley.
Wisconsin: Milwaukee to Peninsula State Park
This is the ideal trip if you want a variation of big and small cities. From Milwaukee, take I-43 to Green Bay and then Wisconsin Highway 57 up the Door Peninsula, which was settled by hardy Scandinavian fishermen and loggers; the peninsula is dotted with charming towns and famous for its apple and cherry orchards. If you feel like trying something new, consider ice fishing in the park.
Wyoming: Yellowstone National Park
Start from the Mammoth Hot Springs and drive 52 miles on the Grand Loop Road. The park is busiest in the summer, so you shouldn’t expect any traffic. The winter is a great time to take this trip if you want to see wolves, which were re-introduced to the park in 1995 after 70 years. For those who enjoy skiing and hiking, plan to explore the trails through the Upper Geyser Basin, which are some of the most stunning winter hikes in the United States.
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