The United States has always been associated with the freedom to hit the open road in your vehicle. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, this massive country continues to enlighten travelers with new road trip ideas. Drive along sunny coastlines, down windy mountain roads, or press the cruise to gaze at the scenic countryside.
Whether you’re searching for a quick 1-day outing or an epic week-long adventure, America has endless road trip ideas. The listed routes take you across this beautiful country from sea to shining sea. Buckle up, fill up the tank, and witness some of the best scenery America has to offer.
The Loneliest Road (3,200 miles)
If you want the whole shebang and drive across America, the Loneliest Road goes from coast to coast. The epic journey on U.S. Route 50 visits famous landmarks, breathtaking landscapes, and everything in between.
Start the drive near the Pacific Ocean and snap unbelievable photos of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Pretend you’re a Pony Express mail carrier by crossing the Sierra Nevada and Great Basin Desert. Before you tackle this patch of Nevada that provides the ultimate solitude, don’t miss the crystal-clear water of Lake Tahoe.
The desert terrain eventually opens up to the geological wonders of Utah and the Colorado Rockies. After traversing the Continental Divide, feel like a western pioneer by following the old Santa Fe Trail trade routes. Before meeting the Appalachian Range in the eastern United States, the route courses miles and miles of farmlands.
After driving through friendly communities in states like Kansas, Illinois, and Indiana, find yourself entrenched in the enthralling history of Virginia. Cross historic hiking routes, American Civil War battlefields, and the nation’s capital, Washington D.C. Following D.C., your ride ends when meeting the Atlantic Ocean on the sandy shores of Ocean City, Maryland.
Border to Border (2,245 miles)
To witness the most dramatic landscapes of North America, Route 93 leaves you speechless with unmatched natural beauty. The drive starts in Canada at the mountain town of Jasper and cuts through the Canadian Rockies. Known as the Icefields Parkway, the section from Jasper to Banff is regarded as one of the world’s most spectacular drives.
Cross the U.S.-Canada border and enter Big Sky country in the wide-open spaces of Montana. The route brings you to the ski resort town of Whitefish and the entrance of Glacier National Park. With its sparkling lakes and jagged peaks, Glacier rewards you with jaw-dropping vistas. After exploring Glacier, hit the road again to pass rushing rivers and lush forests throughout Montana.
When you enter Idaho, don’t miss the chance to visit the Craters of the Moon, Sawtooth Mountains, or ski-happy Sun Valley. As you approach Twin Falls, drive through Snake River Canyon or take a short detour to Shoshone Falls. The drive becomes a lonely endeavor in Nevada and turns into the Great Basin Highway. Reminiscent of the Wild West, you’ll encounter old mining towns, historic railroads, and wide-open spaces.
Make a pit stop in Las Vegas to feel the electricity of Sin City before crossing into Arizona. The route passes the Hoover Dam, and you can marvel at the engineering feat on the Colorado River. Complete your journey by staring at the cacti, coniferous forests, and dreamy sunsets of the Sonoran Desert. When you arrive at the Twin Cities of Nogales, you’ll find an infusion of cultures on the U.S.-Mexican border.
Million Dollar Highway (305 miles)
Stretching from Montrose, Colorado to Bernalillo, New Mexico, U.S. Route 550 has those million-dollar views of snow-capped peaks and precipitous cliffs. The twisting route courses through the San Juan Mountains and is also called the San Juan Skyway Scenic Byway. But the highway earned its “Million Dollar” nickname for the Silverton to Ouray section rumored to cost a million dollars to build.
The nickname is appropriate with dramatic views of the Uncompahgre Gorge, Red Mountain Pass, and San Juan Basin Badlands. However, this spine-tingling adventure isn’t for everyone since the roadway has no guardrails. But for drivers with nerves of steel, the winding roads, and steep climbs satisfy your lust for adrenaline. Since the route connects two gold-mining towns, you’ll also spot remnants of mines along the way.
Skyline Drive (105 miles)
The Skyline Drive cuts through Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park and explores the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. With 75 overlooks, you’ll have endless spots to gaze at majestic vistas of the Shenandoah Valley. Along the way, feel the pioneer spirit by hiking part of the Appalachian Trail or spending a night inside a log cabin.
Spring and fall are popular times to admire the Blue Ridge Mountains as bright colors adorn the landscape. Wildflowers blossom in spring, and the fall transforms the foliage into piercing shades of orange, red, and yellow. The scenic drive offers dozens of pullouts to venture deeper into the forest and possibly encounter wildlife. With deer, black bears, bobcats, and dozens of songbirds, Shenandoah National Park enchants nature lovers.
Beartooth Highway (68 miles)
Talk about a grand entrance to Yellowstone National Park! Starting from Red Lodge, Montana, this section of U.S. Route 212 showcases the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains. The 68-mile National Scenic Byway traverses one of the country’s most dynamic ecosystems and rises nearly 11,000 ft elevation. With its glacial lakes, high peaks, and rugged wilderness, the Beartooth Highway is often considered the most beautiful road trip in America.
Although the Beartooth Highway is the shortest on this list, its diverse landscapes pack a hefty punch. The steep climbs and constant hairpin turns course through verdant forests, alpine tundra, immense glaciers. It’s also the highest elevation you can reach in Wyoming and Montana while remaining on the highway. And at the Northeast entrance of Yellowstone, you find yourself in a wildlife utopia at the Lamar Valley.
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