Blake Walsh

25 USA Road Trips That Will Change Your View of Adventure

  • Published 2024/01/13

The open road beckons with promises of adventure, discovery, and the freedom to explore the vast and diverse landscapes of America.

From the rugged coastlines of the Pacific to the historic trails of the East, every route tells a story, offering a unique glimpse into the nation’s natural beauty and cultural heritage.

This guide to 25 classic routes in America is your passport to unforgettable journeys across this magnificent land.

The Mohawk Trail, Massachusetts

The Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts
haveseen /

A journey along the historic Mohawk Trail is a dive into New England’s rich history and stunning autumn foliage.

This ancient trade route, now a scenic byway, winds through quaint towns and the picturesque Mohawk Trail State Forest, offering breathtaking views and a sense of serenity.

White Mountains, New Hampshire

View at White Mountains, New Hampshire
Winston Tan /

A trip through the White Mountains is an ode to New England’s rugged beauty.

The route is adorned with scenic vistas, crystal-clear lakes, and trails leading to some of the region’s highest peaks, making it a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina

Road of Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
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Dubbed ‘America’s Favorite Drive,’ this route offers a panoramic view of the Appalachian Highlands.

The journey is a blend of natural beauty, from the rolling hills and lush forests to the cultural tapestries of the small towns along the way.

Acadia Byway, Maine

This route showcases the best of Maine’s rugged coastline and the majestic Acadia National Park.

It’s a world where land meets the sea, eagles soar above, and the horizon stretches endlessly, inviting travelers to explore its hidden coves and forested paths.

Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi to Tennessee

Signage of Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi
EWY Media /

Steeped in history, this ancient trail traverses beautiful landscapes, prehistoric mounds, and historic sites.

It’s a serene drive that echoes the footsteps of early Native Americans, European settlers, and traveling musicians.

Overseas Highway, Florida

Overseas Highway in Florida
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A marvel of modern engineering, this route connects the Florida Keys, offering a unique experience of island-hopping against a backdrop of endless blue skies and ocean views.

It’s a journey that feels like a constant embrace of the sea.

Route 66, Illinois to Missouri

Buildings along Route 66, Illinois to Missouri
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A slice of Americana, this legendary route offers a nostalgic journey through time, featuring classic diners, quirky roadside attractions, and a sense of the bygone era of the great American road trip.

Pacific Coast Highway, California

Pacific Coast Highway in California
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Arguably America’s most scenic drive, this route along Highway 1 offers dramatic cliffs, sprawling beaches, and iconic cities.

It’s a journey that captures the essence of the California dream.

Great River Road, Minnesota to Louisiana

Tracing the mighty Mississippi, this route is a tapestry of America’s heartland.

From vibrant cities to quiet river towns, the journey is a testament to the river’s enduring influence on American culture and history.

Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana

Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana
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Cutting through Glacier National Park, this route presents awe-inspiring vistas of mountains and valleys, wildlife, and the raw beauty of the northern Rockies.

Monument Valley, Utah

Monument Valley in Utah /

This route is a journey into the heart of the American Southwest, showcasing stark desert landscapes, towering sandstone buttes, and the rich history of the Navajo Nation.

Oregon’s Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway

Views along Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway
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Winding through the heart of Oregon’s Cascade Range, this route offers access to sparkling mountain lakes and opportunities for endless outdoor activities, set against the backdrop of majestic peaks.

Route 66, Arizona to California

Route 66 in Arizona
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Continuing the Route 66 adventure, this segment takes you through stunning desert landscapes, introducing the unique beauty and cultural richness of the American Southwest.

Door County Coastal Byway, Wisconsin

With its charming lighthouses, pristine beaches, and quaint harbors, this route is a peaceful escape to Wisconsin’s maritime heritage and the serene beauty of Lake Michigan’s shores.

Turquoise Trail, New Mexico

Turquoise Trail in New Mexico
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A journey along this trail is a colorful mosaic of New Mexico’s history, art, and natural beauty, connecting ancient pueblos and historic mining towns set against the backdrop of the Sandia Mountains.

The Loneliest Road, Nevada

The Loneliest Road in Nevada
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Highway 50, known as ‘The Loneliest Road in America,’ offers a meditative journey through vast deserts, rugged mountains, and the remnants of the Old West.

Seward Highway, Alaska

Seward Highway in Alaska
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This route offers an unparalleled experience of Alaska’s wild beauty, with glaciers tumbling into the sea, abundant wildlife, and the rugged Chugach Mountains.

Appalachian Trail Scenic Byway, New England

While mainly a hiking trail, the byway that parallels this famous footpath offers a drive through the heart of New England’s wilderness.

It meanders through small towns, and historic sites, and offers views of the Appalachian Mountains’ stunning landscapes.

Hana Highway, Hawaii

Waterfall along Hana Highway, Hawaii
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A tropical adventure on Maui, this route is a winding journey through lush rainforests, past waterfalls, and black sand beaches, embodying the spirit of aloha.

Colonial Parkway, Virginia

Tunnel at Colonial Parkway, Virginia
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This scenic byway is a historical journey connecting Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown, three pivotal sites in America’s early history.

The route offers a picturesque drive through Virginia’s colonial past, with views of the James and York Rivers, and landscapes that have witnessed centuries of American history.

Million Dollar Highway, Colorado

Million Dollar Highway in Colorado
Kris Wiktor /

Part of the San Juan Skyway, this route stretches between Silverton and Ouray in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

Known for its stunning views, steep cliffs, and hairpin turns, it’s an exhilarating drive that showcases the rugged beauty of the San Juan Mountains and the rich mining history of the area.

Outer Banks Scenic Byway, North Carolina

This route takes you along North Carolina’s barrier islands, offering a unique coastal experience.

With views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Pamlico Sound on the other, it features historic lighthouses, quaint fishing villages, and opportunities for wildlife viewing, especially wild horses.

California’s Wine Country Roads

Sonoma Valley road
Rolf_52 /

Winding through Napa and Sonoma Valleys, these routes offer a journey through rolling vineyards, world-class wineries, and charming towns.

It’s a gastronomic adventure as much as it is scenic, with opportunities to taste some of the world’s finest wines and indulge in gourmet cuisine.

Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts

Freedom Trail in Boston, Massachusetts
Wangkun Jia /

This urban route takes you through the heart of Boston, connecting 16 historic sites significant to the American Revolution.

Walking this trail is like stepping back in time, with stops at the Old North Church, Paul Revere’s House, and the Bunker Hill Monument.

San Juan Skyway, Colorado

San Juan Skyway in Colorado
Gestalt Imagery /

Completing a loop in the Colorado Rockies, this byway offers a journey through mountain towns like Telluride and Durango, alongside ancient cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park.

The route is known for its breathtaking mountain views, especially during the fall when the aspen trees turn a vibrant gold.

Final Thoughts

America’s classic routes are more than just roads; they are journeys that connect us to the heart and soul of the nation.

Each path offers a new perspective, a new adventure, and a deeper appreciation of the rich tapestry that makes up the United States.

Whether seeking solitude in nature’s embrace or the joy of discovering small-town charms, these routes invite you to explore, dream, and discover.

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