Top 20 Most Scenic Drives in the USA You Don't Want to Miss

Last Updated on May 18, 2023 by Nikki Jain

America is known for its gorgeous drives that not only get you to your destination but also help you see some of the most beautiful scenery while enjoying the trip.

You can travel highways that span more than a hundred miles over the open sea or take an up-close and personal look at some of the most majestic mountains in the country.

Want to know more about these beautiful road trips in the USA?

On this page, we will look at the most scenic drives in the USA. Whether you are out west, down south, or on the east coast, there is a stretch of highway that will inspire you to stop and snap a picture.

Many of these trips are a whole lot of fun, especially on the shorter routes that can be tackled in just a few hours.

Read further for a closer look at some of the most scenic drives in America.

Most Scenic Drives in America

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1: Hana Highway (Hwy 360), Maui, Hawaii

Hana Highway (Hwy 360), Maui, Hawaii
Flickr/Tim Lumley

At just 64 miles long, this is one of the shortest routes on this list of the most scenic drives in the USA.

However, this is one of our top scenic drives for those who just want a pleasant driving experience. It takes a little over 2 hours to complete the route, but every moment on Hana Highway is terrific.

Hana Highway connects Kahului with Hana. Despite the short trip, you'll encounter over 600 curves and 59 bridges.

It is an incredibly windy route, so there is no chance that you'll be able to tackle it at full speed. A good chunk of the route is single-lane (including most bridges).

Traveling along the Hana Highway is a right of passage for anybody traveling to Maui, and it gets an astonishing number of tourists each year. Each of those looking for adventure on this fantastic trip.

See countless waterfalls, caves, and tourist attractions. Along the way, you'll have near-constant views of the stunning ocean out of your window. You can even stop off and relax on one of the many beaches.

Address: Kahului to Hana

2: Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia to North Carolina

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia to North Carolina

Many people claim that the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the top 10 scenic drives in the USA. We don't disagree!

It has been categorized as an All-American Road, which means that even the government believes this is one of the most scenic byways in America.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a massive 469 miles long. It will take you from Shenandoah National Park through to the Great Smoky Mountains.

One of the interesting things about this road is that it has long passed its date for transport usefulness. There are far, far faster ways to drive between Virginia and North Carolina.

This road is now purely for tourists (or those wanting a more scenic journey). It is rarely packed, and there are parts of this road where you'll have everything to yourself. Nowhere in America have we ever felt more free than zipping along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Along Blue Ridge Parkway, you'll see highlights of how important this route used to be. You'll see old logging camps, mills, and even the odd run-down settlement.

However, our favorite things to do along the Blue Ridge Parkway involve camping (plenty of campsites along the way), hiking, and even dabbling in a bit of hunting or fishing.

A particular highlight for families is the Julian Price Memorial Park. While there are many lakes along the Parkway, this is the only place where you can swim.

Address: Virginia to North Carolina

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3: Overseas Highway (Hwy 1), Florida

Overseas Highway (Hwy 1), Florida

Among the most beautiful road trips in the USA is the Overseas Highway (Hwy 1). It connects the Florida Keys to Key West and runs for 113 miles.

It obtained a special name, which means "The Highway that Goes to Sea" because most of this trip will take you over stunning seas.

Over a century ago, the Overseas Highway was (mostly) the Overseas Railroad. Over time, the railroad fell out of use.

Rather than having it torn down, Florida decided to start converting sections of the old railroad to support vehicles. The original bridge is no longer used, but the modern highway runs alongside that system.

This makes this drive incredibly unique. There is something about driving over those old railroad bridges and peeking out at the lush, blue ocean that triggers happy emotions inside you.

Because this highway travels mainly over the water, there aren't many attractions along the way. But, the real fun of traveling over the Overseas Highway is that there is no place in the USA quite like it. Plus, we love the views.

Address: Florida Keys to Key West

4: Pacific Coast Hwy (Hwy 1), California

Pacific Coast Hwy (Hwy 1), California
Flickr/Davidlohr Bueso

Technically, the Pacific Coast Highway is a small section of California State Route 1. Although most people refer to the entire road as the Pacific Coast Highway because it goes along the Pacific Coast.

This is a lengthy road. Over 650 miles, so one that will certainly warrant a multi-day trip. A journey along the Pacific Coast Highway will take you through the likes of San Francisco, San Jose, Hollywood, and San Diego.

Basically, not only will you be enjoying one of the most beautiful road trips in the USA, but you'll be enjoying some of the best sights in California.

Most people start their journey at the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and then spend a few days exploring the rest of the Pacific coast as they head down the route. It isn't just about the cities and manmade attractions either.

Pacific Coast Highway will take you through Big Sur, a mountain range covered with trees, hiking, and camping opportunities.

Our highlight on this route is in Cambria, where you can see massive elephant seals moping around the beaches. Others may prefer the glitz of Hollywood, and families may want to take a detour to Disneyland.

So much to explore here, so plan your route! You can do it at any time of the year, thanks to the mild Californian weather.

Address: CA-1

5: Columbia River Highway (Hwy 30), Oregon

Columbia River Highway (Hwy 30), Oregon
Flickr/John Fowler

Driving between Troutdale and The Dalles in the state of Oregon can become the most exciting part of your scenic trip.

The unique and incredible Columbia River Hwy (Hwy 30) fascinates and impresses tourists with the view, which encourages you to travel, live, and inspire.

Columbia River Hwy runs for 75 miles, and sometimes it is hard even to believe that you actually see that palette of colors, shapes, cliffs, and falls.

Almost all of the trip will have you driving past the stunning Columbia River. So, expect to be traveling through beautiful, natural landscapes.

The Columbia River Highway is a well-developed road nowadays. It can get exceedingly busy as it is one of the main business routes for transport.

So, you'll rarely have space to yourself on the road. But it does mean that there are plenty of stops along the way (including campsites with hiking opportunities).

Address: I-84, Cascade Locks, OR 97014

Also Read: Best Places to See Fall Colors in the USA

6: All American Byway 12, Utah

All American Byway 12, Utah
Flickr/faunggs photos

All American Byway 12, which is located in Utah, also has the name "Highway 12 - A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway". This 124-mile drive crosses many famous places to visit, such as Dixie National Forest and Bryce Canyon National Park.

You can also dedicate some of your time to exploring Boulder Mountain. Canyons in Utah are quite impressive, and you would have a wonderful opportunity to see them while driving. The diversity of landscapes in Utah and its natural charm attracts many visitors every year.

This is one of the most scenic roads in America. Not just because of what you'll see out your window (although that is good!). It is because this road has had a lot of thought put into it.

The road almost feels like it has been built into the scenery. Traveling along the All-American Byway 12 will make you feel at one with nature.

A journey along the All-American Byway 12 will provide a peak into the history of Utah. You'll see old pioneer towns and the vast forests they once sought out.

There'll be times you'll be navigating through twisting canyons and others where you'll be awe-struck by mountains. This road does pack it all in!

Address: UT-12, Utah

7: Turquoise Trail (Hwy 14), New Mexico

Turquoise Trail (Hwy 14), New Mexico
Turquoise Trail between Santa Fe and Albuquerque | Dreamstime/Tristan Brynildsen

The Turquoise Trail (Hwy 14) is a very short road. It is just 50 miles long and links Albuquerque with Santa Fe. However, despite being short, it still offers one of the prettiest roads to drive in the US.

Along this well-populated route, you'll drive past old mining towns, historical towns, and countless museums and see stunning views as far as the eye can see.

You can bring history alive in local counties and get a lot of inspiration from fields, mountains, and wildlife.

Since it is only 50 miles long, the scenery of the Turquoise Trail doesn't change all that much when you are driving along it, but you'll see an adventure around every corner.

It is the perfect scenic drive for those with only a day or two to spare, e.g., families that can't stomach their children constantly asking, 'Are we there yet?'.

Address: Turquoise Trail, Tijeras, NM 87059

8: Mount Washington Auto Road, New Hampshire

Mount Washington Auto Road, New Hampshire

Mount Washington Auto Road is a bit of a unique drive on this list. This is because it was never planned to be anything other than a tourist attraction.

The owners of Mount Washington Auto Road proclaim it to be the very first manmade tourist attraction in the United States. Still, if you're looking for the best scenic drives in the USA, this certainly offers it.

The Mount Washington Auto Road is 7.6 miles long, and you'll have to pay a fee to get onto it. However, once you're on, you'll be traversing the stunning Mount Washington.

As you do, you'll be climbing over 4,000 feet toward the peak of Mount Washington, where you'll have some of the best views over New Hampshire.

You'll even get a bumper sticker to congratulate you on making the trip!
Don't have a car? There are even tourist buses that will take you up the mountain instead! Make sure you book a sunset tour for the best fun.

Address: 1 Mount Washington Auto Road, Gorham, NH 03581

Also Read: Top 20 Most Beautiful Mountains to Visit in the USA

9: Cascade Loop Scenic Highway, Washington

Cascade Loop Scenic Highway, Washington

The Cascade Loop Scenic Highway is 440 miles long. As the name suggests, this is a loop. So, you'll end back in the same place that you started.

Perfect if you don't fancy finding yourself 100s of miles from where you need to be. It also means you can jump on the route wherever you want and still see everything.

The Cascade Loop Scenic Highway offers some of the best views in the United States. You'll drive through Washington state's lush forests, breathe in the salty sea air, see miles and miles of farmland, and even traverse small mountains.

You'll visit multiple towns and cities along the way, including Everett, Pateros, and Twisp. So, plenty of places to stay if you don't fancy doing the whole route in one go.

10: Trail Ridge Road, Colorado

Trail Ridge Road, Colorado
Flickr/Kent Kanouse

Trail Ridge Road was once called the 'scenic wonder road of the world', and it isn't hard to see why.

Who doesn't want to spend their time driving through the stunning Rockies? Traveling 48 miles from Estes Park and Grand Lake, you'll see beautiful forests and some of the best views in the world.

This drive will take you to amazing heights, with the highest point of Trail Ridge Road sitting at a lofty 12,000 feet making it the highest road in the USA. Here, you can see epic alpine tundra and even have a view over the surrounding states.

As this is a very short drive, you can wrap up everything in just a few hours. Although, we don't recommend that. There are many stops along Trail Ridge Road, and we suggest you stop at as many as possible.

They have been carefully selected by the state of Colorado for the best views over the lush vegetation (or the alpine tundra) and for incredible views of the wildlife. Wrap up warm, though. It gets cold.

Address: Trail Ridge Rd, Grand Lake, CO 80447

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11: Beartooth Highway, Montana and Wyoming

Beartooth Highway, Montana and Wyoming
Dreamstime/Zimu Liu

Beartooth Highway takes you from Red Lodge (in Montana) to the entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

At under 70 miles long, we can’t think of a better way to make the journey toward the most stunning national park in the United States.

Even though the route is on the shorter side of things, you'll still find yourself driving through three national forests and fantastic mountain ranges.

To say that this is one of the most scenic drives in America would be an understatement. It is so beautiful that sometimes you’ll struggle to keep your eyes on the road (but please do!)

You’ll need to head here during the warmer parts of the year, though. It is often the victim of heavy snowfall, and nobody clears it.

Address: Red Lodge to Cooke City

12: Parke County Drive, Indiana

Parke County Drive, Indiana

Parke County calls itself the ‘covered bridge capital of the world’, so you can probably imagine the sorts of things you’ll be seeing along this very short drive; 31 covered bridges, each with a wealth of history behind them. 

We think this 30-mile-long drive really exemplifies just how varied the most beautiful roads in America are.

It isn't all about natural beauty. It is about exploring the country's history and how we came to tackle the vast landscape.

There isn't much to do on Parke County Drive other than view those covered bridges, but it is still fun. The short drive means that you can explore some of the other areas of Parke County too.

Address: Parke County, Indiana

13: Coastal Connection Scenic Byway, Alabama

Coastal Connection Scenic Byway, Alabama
Dreamstime/George Dodd

The Coastal Connection Scenic Byway will take you along one of the most scenic routes in the US. You'll drive along a 130-mile stretch of the Gulf Coast.

Here, you'll stopover at many different small coastal towns. Again, one of the joys of exploring US roads; seeing the different cultures around every corner.

If you love the outdoors, you'll especially love the Coastal Connection Scenic Byway. Along the route, you have the Gulf State Park.

Here, you can explore beautiful coastlines and see stunning wildlife. It isn't uncommon to see an alligator or two!

You also have the great Fort Morgan from the US Civil War. It has now been turned into a museum, and you can explore this significant part of US history.

As we said, this is very much a route for nature lovers. Plenty of fishing, hunting, camping, and kayaking opportunities along one of the most beautiful drives in the USA. 

Address: Mobile to Baldwin

14: Route 66, Missouri

Route 66, Missouri

Route 66 is not only one of the most famous roads in the USA but one of the most famous roads in the world.

Tourists from all over the planet descend on Route 66 each year to take the drive which starts in Chicago, Illinois and ends at Santa Monica, California.

While it has long since passed its use as a business route, this historic highway is great for tourists and those that want to enjoy the freedom of the open American roads.

This isn’t a route that you’ll be completing in a day, though. In fact, at 2,400 miles long (it stretches the entirety of the US), it will take several weeks to see even a smattering of it.

If you can’t tackle the whole route, not to worry. Our favorite section is the Route 66 route in Missouri. It connects St. Louis to Joplin. In fact, this was the first state to recognize that Route 66 was an actual thing.

Most of this section of the route will take you through winding country roads and open expanses of land. Of course, since this is Route 66, you’ll find plenty of tourist destinations along the way.

If you can make the journey across the entire route at least once in your life, please do. It is one of the most scenic highways in the US and, in our opinion, one of the most important.

Address: Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California

15: Richardson Highway, Alaska

Richardson Highway, Alaska

If you’re willing to brave a trip into Alaska, then the Richardson Highway may be for you. It is over 300 miles long and will take you from the Chugach Mountains to Fairbanks, one of the most important towns in Alaska.

The Richardson Highway is one of the most important roads in Alaska. The whole state has minimal roads, and Richardson Highway is the only way to really navigate over some areas. '

So, it is loaded with business travelers throughout the year and well-maintained. Even when it snows heavily, you can still traverse Richardson Highway, albeit with some difficulty.

The route will take you through alpine tundra, snow-covered mountains, frozen rivers (in the winter), and more. It is an experience that many of the other scenic drives in the US can't offer.

Address: Valdez to Fairbanks

16: North Shore Drive, Minnesota

North Shore Drive, Minnesota
Dreamstime/Lonnie Paulson

This lengthy drive will take you through eight different state parks. Along the 154-mile journey, you’ll travel from Duluth to Grand Portage.

Highlights of North Shore Drive include Lake Superior (with many bays), some of the best fishing in Minnesota, ghost towns, and tons of historical landmarks.

Along the way, you’ll enjoy stunning views of Lake Superior, vast forests that stretch as far as the eye can see, cobblestone beaches, and plenty of camping and hiking options. 

At the end of the trip (assuming you have your passport with you), you can even venture into Canada and enjoy an even longer drive.

Address: Duluth to Grand Portage

17: Oregon Coast Highway 101, Oregon

Oregon Coast Highway 101, Oregon
Dreamstime/Sergey Novikov

The Oregon Coast Highway is 363 miles long and is an important road for the economy of Oregon. The route will take you along the Pacific Coast, all the way from the border of California to the border of Washington.

Throughout the drive, you'll have the Pacific Coast in view. Every so often, you'll end up in a beautiful coastal town just ripe for exploring.

When the sea isn't in sight, you'll have stunning tree-lined mountains and hills, forests, meadows, rivers, and some of the most beautiful bridges you'll ever see on a route in the US.

Many people have heralded this as one of the best drives in the USA, and it isn't hard to see why.

Address: Astoria, Oregon to Megler, Washington

18: Park Loop Road, Maine

Park Loop Road, Maine
Dreamstime/Jon Bilous

Park Loop Road is just 28 miles long and will take you through the heart of Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island, the largest island in Maine.

Park Loop Road isn't a route you're meant to finish from start to finish in one go. It is a way to get around Mount Desert Island, and you're encouraged to head off on many of the sub-roads to enjoy a variety of lakes, mountains, towering granite cliffs, and shorelines.

The route starts at the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, where you can learn more about the journey before you head out on the road.

One of the highlights of Park Loop Road is its accessibility to some of Acadia's most beautiful landmarks. As you drive this magnificent route, make sure to stop by Thunder Hole – a unique spot where crashing waves create an awe-inspiring thunderous sound.

Address: Acadia National Park, Maine

Also Read: Best Places To See Fall Foliage In New England

19: Cherohala Skyway - Tennessee

Cherohala Skyway - Tennessee
Dreamstime/Jill Lang

If you view the Cherohala Skyway from above, you'll very quickly see why so many people absolutely love this road. It is nothing but a stunning road winding through tree-lined mountain after tree-lined mountain.

It is just 43 miles long but a journey like no other. It connects Tellico Plains, Tennessee to Robbinsville, North Carolina.

You'll be driving through the most beautiful part of Tennessee and see countless waterfalls, canyons, and forests. It is a journey often favored by hikers owing to the sheer number of trails along the route.

This place really does feel like it is off-the-beaten-track. It is an almost deserted road (and you won't want to drive through it in the winter), with no facilities or stops along the route. It is just you and the open road.

Address: Tellico Plains, Tennessee to Robbinsville, North Carolina.

20: Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier NP, Montana

Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier NP, Montana

Glacier National Park is home to one of the most scenic drives in the United States - Going-to-the-Sun Road.

This historic scenery road will transport you across 50 miles of open road, through the continental divide (lots of mountains), with Logan Pass being the highlight.

The scenery along the Going-to-the-Sun road is rich, with open areas of forest, waterfalls, glaciers, mountains, and plenty of wildlife to see. Unfortunately, you cannot traverse it during the winter months.

Owning to how difficult the road is to access by maintenance teams, much of it is sat under 10-12 feet of snow throughout much of the winter. This is a summer journey. 

Address: Glacier National Park, Montana

Visit Website

FAQs about America's Most Scenic Drives

What is the #1 scenic drive in the USA?

Hana Highway in Hawaii is often claimed to be the most scenic drive in the United States. This beautiful drive takes you through lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and stunning shorelines.

What is the most scenic highway in the United States?

The All-American Byway 12 in Utah is a stunning road that will take you not only through natural history but American history.

What's the famous route in America?

Route 66 is undeniably the most famous route in America. This legendary route takes you through fascinating towns that have managed to preserve their vintage appeal.

So, what's your favorite drive in the US?

As you can see, there are plenty of scenic drives in the United States. Drives that will take you through the sheer beauty of our nation. Whether you are looking for a short drive through lakes, mountains, and forests, or an epic journey that will cross the entire continent, you have plenty of options. Pick any of our most scenic highways in the US, and you'll be well on your way toward enjoying the open road.

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