The season for road-trips is upon us! For those who want to see more of the USA, the road trip is the best way to do it. There are so many places to go, it’s hard to choose — but let’s take a look at 10 of some of the more amazing options:
Top 10 American Road Trips – Ultimate Road Trips:
10. Skyline Drive, VA
Distance: 105 miles
Skyline Drive cuts through Shenandoah Valley, giving travelers a peek into what this country was like before it was discovered by Columbus. Enter the Shenandoah State Park and head up past the visitor’s center. A few miles beyond, you’ll start to climb the Blue Ridge Mountains, and that’s where the view really begins.
There are many mountain-top lookouts, so watch for turn-offs as you drive. You might see some of the local wildlife — white tailed deer, skunks, rabbits, and, if you’re very lucky, a black bear. Bring a backpack and some good shoes so you can stop to take one of the numerous hiking trails in the park.
List-Maker: If you get there early enough, this area is known to get pretty foggy. In the earliest morning hours, the mist rolls in and turns the mountain ridges into islands in the fog.
9. Dinosaur Diamond Prehistoric Highway, CO-UT
Distance: 480 miles
The Prehistoric Highway will pique your curiosity as you wind through history. Traveling through Utah and western Colorado, this path takes you through canyons and valleys, arid plateaus and hairpin turns.
Take a few days to meander along the loop, and stop to admire the numerous rivers that crisscross the area. Don’t miss the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry. For dinosaur buffs, this is the most prolific area for Jurassic-era dinosaur fossils. Stop here to see thousands of dinosaur bones and re-live Jurassic Park.
List-Maker: Along this route, you’ll pass through Arches National Park, the park which made this route famous. Just before Moab, you’ll find yourself in the park with over 200 naturally occurring arches, as well as hundreds of other jaw-dropping rock formations.
8. The Southwest’s Four Corners
Distance: 525 miles
Starting in Flagstaff, AZ, this trip takes you through all four states — Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. You’ll pass through the Painted Forest, where red and white mix in layers like the sky. Pass through numerous parks and into Telluride, CO, a tiny little town of eccentrics and painters at the base of the Rocky Mountains. Stand on Main Street and look up — you’ll see what you’re looking for when you get there.
List—Maker: End the trip by traveling over the mountains that surround Telluride and go into Mountain Village. Take the gondola ride up the mountain, and the scenery you’ll get to experience is not to miss.
7. Alaska’s Seward Highway, AK
Distance: 127 miles
This route is the definition of remote. If you’re looking to get away from it all, and spend some time with no people, cars or traffic, this is the road you need to take.
You’ll go from Anchorage over the Kenai Peninsula, and on to Seward. Make sure to stop and see the beluga whales at Bird Point. Head on to Mount Alyeska – which turns into a mass of wildflowers in the summer. You’ll eventually make it to Seward, a quaint little town with plenty of available rooms!
List-Maker: Once you arrive in Seward, you’ll have a chance to see Resurrection Bay. If you really want to get a feel for it, explore it in a boat. If you’re lucky you can see humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, otters and other amazing wildlife.
6. The Loneliest Road, CA – MD
Distance: 3,200 miles
If you’re looking for days on end of touring the country, the Loneliest Road is the trip for you. This path takes you from San Francisco, CA, all the way out to the nation’s capital, Washington D.C.
The desolate deserts of Utah and Nevada offer breathtaking sights of the night sky. In the Midwest, farmlands stretch from horizon to horizon. Then you move to the east, and the land rises to meet the ancient Appalachian Mountains. Cross those to find yourself struck with the power and prestige of Washington D.C., and travel even further to find the quiet peacefulness of Maryland’s Eastern Shore — a picture-perfect end to a life-altering journey.
List-Maker: The Loneliest Road cuts through The Great Basin National Park, which has been a favorite photography spot for years. Stop here for a night or two of camping in one of the choicest spots. You’ll get amazing pictures during the day, and the night sky will blow you away.
5. Pacific Coast Highway, WA – CA
Distance: 1,650 miles
Starting up in Washington, this drive takes you down the coast — literally. The Olympic State Park is your starting point, and you can watch the waves break almost the entire way down to the border of Mexico. The rocky cliffs and green forests of Washington and Oregon give way to sandy beaches and forsaken deserts farther south. You’ll also drive through some of the most diverse cities in the US — Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and San Diego, just to name a few.
List-Maker: This road also takes you through the Great Redwood Forests, with trees so old and huge you can drive a car through them! The Avenue of Giants is a drive in its self, so prepare for frequent stops.
4. Route 66
Distance: 2,400 miles
This road is more than a road — for Americans, its classic cars, James Dean and the sweet smell of nostalgia. The miles of this trip are marked with classic diners, old school shops and towns that time seems to have forgotten. Check out Meramec Caverns in Missouri, and take a dip in the Colorado River. Let yourself be swept back to a simpler time on this American classic of a road.
3. The Oregon Trail
Distance: 3,300 miles
Tracking from Oregon to Massachusetts, the Oregon Trail is a look back in time. Start off on the rugged coast of Oregon, and head east. You’ll have the option to stop at numerous sites, including Mount Rushmore, the Great Lakes and even Niagara Falls. Don’t stop there, though — continue on and end your journey of a lifetime with Martha’s Vineyard, Cape Cod and some of the best lobster in the USA.
List-Maker: The Oregon Trail takes you right through Yellowstone National Park. This super-volcano also houses geysers, waterfalls, abundant wildlife and basically any outdoor activity you could possibly imagine.
2. Overseas Highway, FL
Distance: 113 miles
For some of the best seafood around, and some of the best views of your life, you can’t miss a trek through the Florida Keys. Starting south of Miami, this one way trip takes you far out into the ocean, skipping across islands like a stone skips on water. Heading into Key Largo gives you a taste of the island life, when suddenly, the land disappears and you drive for miles over nothing but water.
Hitting island after island as you make your way to the lower Keys, you’ll find boats for dolphin watching and fisherman on their piers. Keep an eye out for the endangered Key Deer, and ease off the pedal to take in the view. You’ll eventually turn around at Key West, 90 miles from Cuba, but you’ll have left your heart in the ocean.
List-Maker: The John Pennecamp Coral Reef State Park offers glass bottom boat tours, scuba and snorkeling, and of course, coral reefs. Sea turtles, dolphins and tropical fish frequent the waters, and this is where you can see the “Christ of the Deep” statue if the weather permits.
1. Maui’s Hana Coast, HI
Distance: 52 miles
At only 52 miles long, you wouldn’t think the Hana Coast in Hawaii would be much of a road trip. However, the winding road requires slow driving and frequent stops. The hairpin turns can put drivers and passengers on edge, so stopping often is recommended — not only for the fruit, but also to allow the car sickness to wear off.
Start off in Kahului, where you can take the time to visit the Arts and Cultural Museum or the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Museum. It’s not a well-known tourist spot, so you can really get a feel for the locals there. Then, hit the trail!
Stop at the Garden of Eden, a Hawaiian botanical garden, then move on to waterfalls and swimming spots. Turn offs everywhere offer chances to see waterfalls and beaches. You’ll eventually end up in Hana, a tiny little town at the edge of the sea. Stay for the sunset, and get a real feel for what Hawaii is like for the locals.
List-Maker: Waianapanapa State Park offers luxurious black sand beaches, caves and treacherous waters. Occasionally, a bloom of shrimp turns the water blood-red, setting off a sight you only see once in a lifetime.
So choose a road-trip, fill up the tank and go! Adventure waits at every turn.
Adrienne is a freelance designer and avid blogger who loves to travel. To see more of her work, follow @foodierx on Twitter.