Posts Tagged ‘ top scenic drives in North America ’

Top Scenic Drives in North America

You can see some of the most beautiful scenery in the world driving around North America.

Highway 12, Utah: 107 miles from Torrey to Bryce Canyon National Park

Of course, everyone has their own opinion as to which drives are the best.

Here are the Top 10 in the opinion of Lonely Planet, and test drivers from American Suzuki.

How many of these routes have you enjoyed driving?

Lonely Planet’s Take on the Top 10 Scenic Drives:

1. Hana Hwy (Hwy 360), Maui, Hawaii: 38 miles from Pauwela to Hana

The most spectacular coastal drive in all Hawaii, the Hana Hwy winds its way deep into jungle valleys and back out above a rugged coastline. Not for the faint of heart, the road is a real cliff-hugger, with 54 one-lane bridges, roadside waterfalls and head-spinning views. Gas up, pack a lunch and bring your swimsuit!

(Editor’s note: I did this drive back in the 70s. I hope they have paved the road since then. It was so bumpy, and so scary a cliff-hanger that we forgot to look at the scenery. It’s probably much better now!)

2. Turquoise Trail (Hwy 14), New Mexico: 45 miles from Albuquerque to Santa Fe
The Turquoise Trail has been a major trade route since at least 2000 BC. Today it’s the scenic back road between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, lined with quirky communities. Sights along the way include Tinkertown (an animated miniature village) and gorgeous desert scenery.

3. Columbia River Hwy (Hwy 30), Oregon: 74 miles from Troutdale to The Dalles
Finished in 1915, this gorgeous winding highway was the first paved road in the Northwest and America’s first scenic highway. It was also part of the Oregon Trail and the last leg of Lewis and Clark’s expedition. There are gushing waterfalls in spring, wildflower displays in summer and awe-inspiring views all year round. Hikers have plenty of trailheads to choose from, and cyclists can cruise two stretches of the old highway renovated for non-vehicle use.

4. Pig Trail Byway (Hwy 23), Arkansas: 80 miles from Ozark to Eureka Springs
Just north of the town of Ozark (no, you are not yet in the Ozark Mountains), this spectacular drive is lined with wild echinacea and lilies, and climbs through Ozark National Forest and into the mountains. This is an excellent way to reach the friendly town of Eureka Springs.

5. Hwy 12, Utah: 107 miles from Torrey to Bryce Canyon National Park
Locals call this ‘color country’ for the eye-popping hues that saturate this Southwest landscape. This most scenic of roads passes through Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, ending at the entrance to Capitol Reef National Park.

6. Overseas Highway (Hwy 1), Florida: 160 miles from Miami to Key West
Large parts of this divine island-hopping highway were built on bridges left from the hurricane-destroyed Overseas Railroad. Now, streams of travelers swarm down from the mainland to indulge in the alluring jade-green waters, laid-back island lifestyle, great fishing and idyllic snorkeling and diving.

7. Delmarva Peninsula (Hwys 50 and 13): 210 miles from Annapolis, Maryland, to Virginia Beach, Virginia
These unbroken miles of bird-dotted wetlands and serene waterscapes are hours from one of America’s busiest urban corridors. Virginia’s Eastern Shore is full of dock towns where watermen live off the Chesapeake Bay, and has the feel of a remote, maritime escape. The flat topography is made for bicycling.

8. Route 66 (initial section): 300 miles from Chicago, Illinois, to St Louis, Missouri
America’s ‘Mother Road’ kicks off in Chicago on Adams St just west of Michigan Ave, but in Illinois, much of the old road exists only in scattered sections paralleling the interstate. Still, there are many roadside attractions and oddball stops to be taken, plus pie shops and drive-ins for eateries.

9. Pacific Coast Hwy (Hwy 1), California: 332 miles from San Francisco to Santa Barbara
No trip to California is complete without a jaunt along the almost surreally scenic Hwy 1, one of the US’s most iconic roads. Slipping out of the City by the Bay, the narrow road ribbons above the ocean, overlooking beaches cast like pearls on one side, and soaring redwood trees on the other. Slow down – this region wants to be savored, not gulped.

10. Blue Ridge Parkway: 469 miles from Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

The southwestern tip of Virginia is the most rugged part of the state. Turn onto the Blue Ridge Parkway and you’ll immediately plunge into dark strands of dogwood and fir, fast streams and white waterfalls. Wildflowers bloom in spring and fall colors are spectacular.

For more information and links to photos, visit:

Here’s a somewhat different take on the Top 10:

Test drivers from American Suzuki, who drive thousands of miles a year on a variety of roads in the U.S., have listed their picks for the top 10 scenic drive tours that motorists can enjoy at their own pace.

1. Blue Ridge Parkway from Virginia to Tennessee. This scenic highway offers over 450 miles of numerous varieties of trees, lush valleys and wildlife.

2. Route 7, Vermont – or the many quaint back roads and byways, along it.

3. Route 169, the Norwich-Woodstock Turnpike in Connecticut passes through many small historic towns of the state and view buildings, homes and churches from the mid-1800s.

4. Lancaster County, Penn., via US-30, provides visitors with a glimpse of the intriguing Amish, Mennonite and Brethren cultures.

5. The Florida Keys Scenic Highway, US 1, is great for spectacular sunrises and sunsets.

6. The Midwest’s best travel routes include the Historic National Road in Illinois along US 40. This road is known as the “Main Street of America” because of its many historic towns and buildings.

7. The Bear Lake-Caribou Scenic Byway stretches across the borders of Utah and Idaho and offers visitors the chance to enjoy camping, fishing, boating and amazing scenery.

8. Begin in Northern California and continue north through the coast of Oregon up to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, Highway 101.

9. Highway 1, through Southern California, appeals to anyone who enjoys warm sunny beaches. Starting in San Diego and going all the way along the coast to San Francisco.

10. The Historic Columbia River Highway in Oregon, referred to by some as the “King of the Roads,” provides many trails for bikers and hikers and is a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts.

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Finally, here are the Top 10 scenic drives according to Sherman Travels:

Which one will you drive this summer?