Discover the 11 Most Breathtaking Drives in the US

Written by Chanel Coetzee
Updated: June 26, 2023
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The USA has many scenic roads that offer magnificent scenery, exciting attractions, and interesting pit stops. However, not all roads are popular for their natural surroundings. Some roads, like Chicago’s Lake Shore, provide stunning city views. In addition, the US 1 Key Largo to Key West travelers cross the Seven-Mile Bridge, pass over coral reefs and arrive at marinas filled with wildlife and beach bars. Therefore, there is a breathtaking drive in the US for everyone. So, find out which scenic trip most appeals to you.

1. Patchwork Parkway, Utah

UT-143 East near Mammoth Creek

Patchwork Parkway is also known as Utah’s Route 143, which connects Scenic Byway 12 and Heritage Highway 89.

©Rover_0 / CC BY 3.0 – License

Patchwork Parkway is also known as Utah’s Route 143, which connects Scenic Byway 12 and Heritage Highway 89. This drive is approximately 51 miles and takes around two hours to drive. Patchwork Parkway is one of the most breathtaking drives in the US because of the brilliant orange and red canyons, plateaus, and silt cliffs covered with dense fir, spruce, and pine forests. Furthermore, if you are planning on camping along this road, the plateaus offer unforgettable stargazing opportunities.

2. Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania, and Delaware

Aerial view of a beautiful waterfall in a canyon (Brandywine Falls). Taken near Whistler and Squamish, North of Vancouver, BC, Canada.

One of the most breathtaking drives in the US features Brandywine Falls and encompasses Delaware and Pennsylvania.

©EB Adventure Photography/Shutterstock.com

While Brandywine Valley is only a 12-mile journey, it offers a lovely, scenic journey through the Brandywine River watershed, and the view is absolutely gorgeous. It is one of the most breathtaking drives in the US, encompassing two states, Delaware and Pennsylvania. Furthermore, there are numerous gardens and country mansions along this route, so take one or two days to explore the area.

3. San Juan Skyway, Colorado

The San Juan Skyway forms a 233 mile loop in southwest Colorado traversing the heart of the San Juan Mountains featuring breathtaking mountain views.

The San Juan Skyway provides views of ancient Native American pueblo ruins, quaint towns, and the San Juan Mountains.

©Gestalt Imagery/Shutterstock.com

The San Juan Skyway is definitely one of the most breathtaking drives in the US. This road winds through the Gunnison, San Juan, Mesa, and Uncompahgre National Forests in Colorado. The journey will take about five hours to complete, but stay in the area for one or two days to experience everything it offers. For example, the San Juan Skyway provides views of ancient Native American pueblo ruins, quaint towns, and the San Juan Mountains. Furthermore, this route offers plenty of outdoor activities like campgrounds in alpine forests.

4. Seward Highway, Alaska

Camper travels along a curving highway in Alaska below mountains near Seward on a sunny afternoon

The Seward Highway is 127 miles long and connects the cities of Seward and Anchorage.

©Dan Thornberg/Shutterstock.com

If you’re ever in Alaska, you need to travel on the Seward Highway. It is 127 miles long and connects the cities of Seward and Anchorage. It takes around five hours to travel the full length of this highway, which ascends 1,000 feet into the mountains and ends back down at sea level. In addition, the highway winds up and down the wilderness of Alaska. While traveling on the Seward Highway, you will pass mining towns, fishing villages, and national forests.

5. Skyline Drive, Virginia

Fall Overlook at Shenandoah National Park

The Skyline Drive runs along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

©Zack Frank/Shutterstock.com

The Skyline Drive runs along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. The road takes you through the Shenandoah National Park on a 105-mile journey, truly making it one of the most breathtaking drives in the US. It only takes around three hours to complete this drive, but you can stop at one of the 75 scenic overlooks, which might make the journey a bit longer. Travelers will have gorgeous views of flowers, wildlife, valleys, and mountains as they wind through the park. However, you have to maintain a speed of 35 miles per hour to protect the wildlife in the area.

6. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana

Scenic Highline Trail Views of Glacier Valley by the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, Montana

Going-to-the-Sun Road offers views of alpine tundra, cedar forests, lakes, and valleys.

©Stephen Moehle/Shutterstock.com

The next time you’re in Montana, take a drive down Going-to-the-Sun Road, which winds through Glacier National Park. It takes around two hours to complete the drive, but that’s without stopping. Furthermore, you will be 6,646 feet high when the road crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. Going-to-the-Sun Road offers views of alpine tundra, cedar forests, lakes, and valleys. In addition, the outlook point at Jackson Glacier provides travelers with views of actual glaciers. Not many roads in the US offer this amount of natural beauty. However, stay away from this road in the winter, as it receives too much snow; the best time to visit is early fall.

7. Pacific Coast Highway, California

Scenic panoramic view of historic Bixby Creek Bridge along world famous Highway 1 in beautiful golden evening light at sunset with dramatic cloudscape in summer, Monterey County, California, USA

. To avoid any traffic, stay away from Pacific Coast Highway during the months of July and August.

©canadastock/Shutterstock.com

The Pacific Coast Highway offers turquoise coastlines and hugging cliffs as it winds along much of the California coastline. As a result, it is one of the most scenic roads in the world. Another name for this road is Highway 1, which takes around five hours to drive. To avoid any traffic, stay away from Pacific Coast Highway during the months of July and August. Furthermore, winter is also not a good time to travel this road because of mudslides. So, early fall or spring is the ideal time to enjoy everything the Pacific Coast Highway has to offer.

8. Finger Lakes Region, New York

Canandaigua Lake in the Finger Lakes region of New Yrok State in the USA

The best way to see the Finger Lakes region is by traveling along the loop, starting and ending in Ithaca.

©Jim Schwabel/Shutterstock.com

If you ever find yourself in New York State, take dive through the Finger Lakes region, which consists of 11 lakes:

  • Cayuga
  • Seneca
  • Owasco
  • Canandaigua
  • Otisco
  • Keuka
  • Skaneateles
  • Canadice
  • Honeoye
  • Conesus
  • Hemlock

The drive offers views of quaint towns, farmlands, and many wineries. Additionally, the best time to visit is during fall, when the leaves change color. While there are around 9,000 square miles to cover, the best way to see the Finger Lakes region is by traveling along the loop, starting and ending in Ithaca. This loop is around 175 miles long, so you will need a few days if you really want to take your time and see all the attractions. The loop offers lovely scenery like farms, vineyards, waterfalls, and lakefront homes.

9. Overseas Highway, Florida Keys

Beautiful Bahia Honda State Park in the Florida Keys features palm trees and a view of the Overseas Highway.

One of the more popular attractions on the Overseas Highway is the remnants of the old railroad bridges.

©Bill Florence/Shutterstock.com

One of the most breathtaking drives in the US is the Overseas Highway in Florida. It is a 113-mile drive featuring a series of roads and bridges from the mainland down to the southernmost point, Key West. One of the more popular attractions on this road is the remnants of the old railroad bridges. Many people get an eerie feeling from seeing them as some end abruptly in the middle of the channel.

10. The Hawaii Belt, Big Island, Hawaii

This is the scenic Route 11 in Hawaii. The is part of the Hawaii belt rode. Picture is overlooking the coast and black sand beach as a storm approaches.

The Hawaii Belt spans the whole island and is 300 miles long.

©SCEDIT/Shutterstock.com

The Hawaii Belt comprises three state routes 11, 19, and 190, located on the Big Island. This road offers views of lush jungles, active lava flows, deserts of lava, white sandy beaches, valleys, and mountains. The Hawaii Belt spans the whole island and is 300 miles long. Therefore, it is best to take several days to fully enjoy the spectacular beauty on this route.

11. Highway 101, Oregon

US Highway 101 and ocean sea stacks near the town of Gold Beach on the Oregon coast

Highway 101 offers intimidating sea cliffs between Brookings and Port Orford, contrasting the small towns’ pastoral farmland and roaming cattle.

©Bob Pool/Shutterstock.com

The state of Oregon owns its portion of the Pacific shoreline, so it is always open to the public, unlike the rest of the West Coast. As a result, travelers on this 400-mile road will find unobstructed and perfectly preserved natural vistas. In addition, Highway 101 offers intimidating sea cliffs between Brookings and Port Orford, contrasting the small towns’ pastoral farmland and roaming cattle. And if you have kids in the car, stop at the roadside Prehistorical Gardens and get a glimpse of the Tyrannosaurus rex and 23 other life-sized dinosaurs staged against a rainforest landscape.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Mia2you/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Chanel Coetzee is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily focusing on big cats, dogs, and travel. Chanel has been writing and researching about animals for over 10 years. She has also worked closely with big cats like lions, cheetahs, leopards, and tigers at a rescue and rehabilitation center in South Africa since 2009. As a resident of Cape Town, South Africa, Chanel enjoys beach walks with her Stafford bull terrier and traveling off the beaten path.

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