Summer vacation means summer travel. While ground transportation takes a lot longer time to get to your destination than a plane, a car ride allows you to explore areas along the way and have an up close view of the scenery. Since the development of the United States' highway system in the first half of the 1900s, there are a few highways that stand out as more scenic than any others. Pack your cooler, bring some games and hit the road on these scenic drives throughout the United States.
Blue Ridge Parkway
This route connects Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. Along the 469 mile roadway, you will encounter a lush forest wilderness and catch glimpses of wildlife. The road takes you along the Blue Ridge Mountains giving views of plentiful rhododendrons and dogwoods while excavating your way through 26 tunnels that carve through the mountains.
The speed limit maxes out at 45 mph so this is a ride for pleasure cruisers, not your aspiring NASCAR driver. With major intersections, you can choose how far to travel and when you would like to call it a day. There are also many hiking trails scattered throughout the pull-off spots, so make sure to bring a change of clothes and be prepared to enjoy the outdoors.
Pacific Coast Highway
The Pacific Coast Highway has long been regarded as one of America's most scenic roads. Also known as California State Route 1, it takes you along most of the coastline of central California, offering scenic views of the Pacific Ocean, mountains and little trafficked beaches. Starting in the historic old state capital Montery, the route brings you through small towns and colorful cottages, dotted with pelicans and kingfishers. From there, you are brought through Big Sur, a famous 90 mile stretch where mountains meet the ocean and redwood trees greet the sky.
After 123 miles from Montery, the route ends in Morro Bay. When you see the famous Morro Rock, you will know that your journey has come to an end. This is a drive you will want to see from start to finish, so make sure you have your camera and phone charged. If you decide to break up the trip and stay a night, there are bed and breakfasts scattered along the route.
Utah Route 12
After about 40 years in the making, Utah's Scenic Byway 12 spans through Utah's cliffs and rock formations. With 122 miles of roadway, travelers can take as long or short of a trip as they want, many repeatedly returning to catch some of the places that they may have skipped before.
The path connects the natural amphitheaters of Bryce Canyon National Park to the red rock cliffs of Capitol Reef National Park. Along the way, you will understand why it takes many trips to feel like you have seen everything, and even then you may need to return. With Kodachrome Basin State Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and many other parks and scenic backways connecting to the route, one can pick and choose a new adventure every time.
Whether you are looking for a day trip or a weekend on the road, America has plenty of scenic roads to make your road trip more enjoyable. Running out of battery can put a damper on any day, so make sure to keep your personal devices charged so you don’t miss out on that next Facebook post!