The 40 Most Scenic Drives in America
From the lonely roads to coastal drives, gas up the car and check out 40 of the most scenic byways America has to offer.
Utah’s Highway 12
Take a ride down Highway 12 in southern Utah to experience the beauty of one of the most scenic roads in America. Called “A Journey Through Time Scenic Byway,” this 122-mile stretch passes through Red Canyon and Bryce Canyon National Park before finishing near the entrance to Capitol Reef National Park. The road gives way to panoramic videos of the colorful Slickrock and once you make your way past the summit of Boulder Mountain, you’ll wind through a spectacular forest with views of the glowing Capitol Reef National Park. Check out the hidden gems in every state before you hit the road.
Park Loop Road in Maine
Experience beautiful Acadia National Park via Park Loop Road, a 27-mile drive that takes you along the rocky coast and through the tall trees before continuing past Jordan Pond House (be sure to make a pit stop for their famous popovers). Summer and fall are the best times to take this scenic drive—though it can get busy, it’s worth it for the views.
U.S. Highway 41, aka Lake Shore Drive
Travel Lake Shore Drive to experience all the best Chicago has to offer. Drive south to north on the 15-mile urban parkway to see Navy Pier, Millennium Park, the Windy City’s famed skyline, and more on one side and stunning Lake Michigan on the other.
The Coastal Connection
As you cruise along Mobile Bay on Alabama’s Coastal Connection, you’ll enjoy a taste of the deep south and laid back island lifestyle with its beautiful beaches, animal sanctuaries, and charming towns. Any time of the year is a great time to visit this 130-mile scenic byway, just check the forecast around hurricane season. Taking a road trip this summer? You’ll want our road trip survival guide.
Alaska’s Route 4
Richardson Highway, also known as Alaska’s Route 4, is the 368-mile route that connects Valdez to Fairbanks. The scenic route offers breathtaking views of the Chugach Mountains, Alaska Range, and several glaciers. Just before you hit Fairbanks, stop at Alaska’s North Pole, “where the spirit of Christmas lives year round!” If you’re not a good driver, you should avoid the roads in these countries.
Historic Route 66
Shawn Pemrick Photography/Shutterstock
Probably America’s most ultimate road trip, you can get your kicks on Route 66 starting in downtown Chicago—don’t forget to take a pic of the Route 66 start sign! Plan accordingly for this 2,450-mile trip that ends in Santa Monica, California and make sure to stop at some of the must-see roadside attractions like the world’s second-largest rocking chair in Fanning, Missouri, Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, and the Wigwam Hotel in San Bernardino, California.
The Lonesome Highway in Texas lives up to its name as you probably won’t share the road with many cars if any. You may come across an abandoned gas station or two, which is perfect for photos. Head west on Highway 285 to Highway 180 as you get closer to the beautiful Guadalupe Mountain National Park to learn more about the history of the area. Saddle up and check out the nearby towns including El Paso and Pine Springs.
The North to South State Highway in Vermont
Starting in Bennington and heading north to Newport, Vermont, you’ll get breathtaking views of the colorful fall foliage as you cruise on Highway 100 along the eastern edge of the Green Mountains, which gave the state its name. It’s just as captivating in winter; after all one of its nicknames is “The Skier’s Highway.” And with plenty of farms and charming main streets like these to visit, it’s an equally worthwhile trip in the spring and summer, too.
Great River Road
Explore the mighty Mississippi River driving along the Great River Road. Many consider it the best drive in America as it snakes its way all along the Mississippi River. This portion that runs along the Mississippi state border offers 300 miles of small-town charm as you pass historic churches, bed and breakfasts, and even the Old South Winery in Natchez.
Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway
Prepare to be charmed on New Mexico’s Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, an 83-mile loop that circles Wheeler Peak, the highest mountain in the state. Begin in Taos, an eclectic town known for its art galleries, southwestern cuisine, and ski resort. As you circle to Questa, check out the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument for views of the mighty river and be sure to stop at Artesanos de Questa, an artisans’ co-op. Along the way, keep an eye out for quartz and feldspar rocks that dot the region—some are 2 billion years old.