Ready to tour the U.S.A like a boss?
Then give the plebs on those stuffy Greyhound buses a wide berth and opt for an epic all-American road trip instead.
Throughout all 50 states, our awesome country boasts an intoxicating array of natural wonders and diverse communities to explore. And the freedom that comes with an automotive excursion means road tripping is the best way to savor it in style.
The Blue Ridge Parkway
Dubbed “America’s Favorite Drive” by the unbiased folk at the state tourism bureau, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a nature lover’s dreamscape that winds its way through the lush Appalachian Highlands of Virginia and North Carolina.
You’ll want to take your time on this peach of a motorway, preferably staying overnight at the historical and hilariously named Rocky Knob Campground. Don’t forget to explore the nearby geological oddity that is the Rocky Castle Gorge.
Keen hikers could add some extra serenity by trekking the rolling hills of the Shenandoah National Park at its northern tip, or the rugged Great Smoky Mountains to the south.
If possible, cruise the route during fall to marvel at a kaleidoscopic range of earthy autumn hues.
Ready to keep on truckin’? The nearby Scenic Route 100-Byway through the Vernon Green Mountains makes an excellent add-on to the route.
The Alaska Highway
Granted, most of this route is in Canada. Nevertheless, despite their weird accents, our northern neighbors are hospitable enough. And this secluded road trip is utterly worthwhile.
A.K.A the Alcan Highway, this fully paved 1,000-mile road officially starts in Dawson’s Creek, British Colombia. Most U.S road trippers choose to border hop via Montana or Washington State, which allows them to explore the astonishing Banff and Jasper National Parks with ease.
Roadside infrastructure such as gas stations and motels are scarce, so pick up a copy of the highly regarded Milepost Alaska travel guide to carefully plan your trip.
You’ll want a week or so to reach Alaska, preferably pitching a tent at the 500 or so campsites en-route.
On the final stretch, stop off at the remote town of Whitehorse to sample some spicy bison breakfast sausage at the Burnt Toast Cafe. Mmmm, bison…
The Alaska Highway | © 12019 / pixabay
US-50: The backbone of America
Over 3,200 miles.
The famed US Highway 50 cuts right through the nation’s heart, connecting the Pacific to the Atlantic and bestowing an epic automotive adventure on the way. In fact, Time Magazine once dedicated an entire issue to the route which it dubbed the “backbone of America.”
Winding its way inland from San Francisco, the US-50 follows the old Pony Express Route through the Sierra Nevada and on to the snowclad mountains that surround the crystalline shores of Lake Tahoe. Incidentally, this is the ideal spot to paddle around on a pool float before settling in for the night.
We hope you don’t have agoraphobia because the vast upcoming open spaces of the ochre-colored Nevada and Utah deserts are considered “America’s Loneliest Road.“
Next up is the national park-strewn Colorado Plateau, a majestic playground for the budding outdoor enthusiast. The highway then straddles the great Mississipi River and traverses America’s agricultural heartland. Next, it ventures deep into the Appalachian backwoods before arriving at the capital and the Atlantic coast.
Allow at least two weeks to savor the adventure.
The Pacific Coast Highway
Fancy a road trip with an uninterrupted ocean view?
California’s Highway 1, better known as the Pacific Coast Highway, is widely regarded as the most spectacular seaside motorway on Earth.
Road trippers straddle the shoreline on this 600-mile route as they meander past countless sleepy beachfront villages between some of America’s most famous metropolises.
The route starts in sunny San Diego where most travelers mingle for a day or two before hitting up the surf haven of Huntington Beach. After soaking up the glamor of L.A, check out the more elegant and European influenced city of Santa Barba.
Take your time traveling hippy Big Sur, which is home to the states’ most pristine coastal vistas. Next check out Monterey, Carmel, and Santa Cruz for a more developed beachfront experience.
Of course, rolling into San Francisco’s landmark Golden Gate Bridge makes for an impressive finale.
The San Fransisco Bridge at the end of the Pacific Coast Highway | © USA-Reiseblogger / pixabay
The Oregon Trail
History buffs rejoice, for the Oregon Trail is a certifiable blast from the past.
Running between Independence, Missouri and Oregon City, Oregon, the 2,000-mile route showcases the plight of America’s first pioneers.
To get a feel for how these early explorers would have lived, travelers can marvel at numerous artifacts such as original wagons at Fort Laramie. Similarly, Pacific-bound emigrants were once obliged to carve their name into the rock at Register Cliff, which is still on display.
But it’s not all about days gone by.
Natural attractions such as Scott’s Bluff are worth a look, particularly for those who camp in the prairies. City slickers would appreciate the microbreweries and hipster coffee shops of Portland as well.
The Olympic Peninsula
Due west of Seattle lies the misty Olympic National Park, a 3,600 sq. mile region famed for its craggy snow-capped peaks, remote turquoise lakes, and lush old-growth forest.
Road trippers can suss it out by hopping on Highway 101, which loops around the park and has loads of cool detours en route.
Quaint European style villages are in abundance, the best of which is Port Townsend for its elegant pastel-colored housing. Nearby, Port Angeles has an international scenic ferry which arrives at the charming British style city of Victoria in Canada.
Surrounded by pine-tree clad hills, the crystalline Lake Crescent is one of America’s most beautiful bodies of water and offers ample picturesque camping grounds. Other sweet and secluded camping spots can be found on the Pacific Coast, namely Neah Bay and La Push.
Bird nerds should make a beeline for the Dungeness Spit which is home to over 250 colorful species.
A highlight for most is driving up the access road to either the Hoh or Quinault rain forests. Situated deep within the park, these soggy forested regions offer superb hiking and camping opportunities.
A sweet spot to camp in the Olympic National Park © matisse / pixabay
Nicknamed the “Mother Road” and the “Main Street of America,” Route 66 is the original and old-school darling of the great American road trip.
The highway was officially decommissioned in 1985 in favor of a state highway system. But that hasn’t stopped nostalgic history buffs from tackling this 2,400-mile route between Chicago and Los Angeles.
Many remnants of the golden years remain, such as a plethora of Instagram-worthy roadside attractions. Examples include a 170 ft. tall Catsup bottle, a bizarre 19 ft. fiberglass statue of a muffler man holding a hot dog, and a colossal whale surrounded by an artificial lagoon.
Kitsch landmarks aside, Route 66 is home to a number of America’s natural treasures. Stop off at the astronomical Meteor Crater, the geologist’s dreamscape known as the Petrified Forest, or the Blue Hole of Santa Rosa for some swimming and SCUBA diving action.
The Overseas Highway: Miami to Key West
As you might have inferred from the name, this mind-blowing Florida highway literally stretches across the sea. The route travels from Miami over the Florida Keys to Key West, some 90 miles north of Cuba.
Built back in 1912, the original 125-mile railway was a marvel of engineering at the time. A hurricane wiped it out in the 1930s at which point it was sold to the government for the paltry price of US$640,000 and turned into a highway.
Nature lovers must check out everyone’s favorite alligator infused swamplands, the epic Everglades National Park. Make your way to the remote Flamingo Campground for a true quagmire experience.
Eccentric types should visit Coral Castle. This one thousand tonne ensemble of limestone sculptures was supposedly carved by hand over a period of 28 years by a seriously weird Latvian American man.
Of course, the highway and its 42 bridges are the real highlights, the most impressive of which is the seemingly endless Seven Mile Bridge (which is only 6.76-mile long).
A pier on Key West, Florida | © OmnipresentOne / pixabay
Scenic Byway 12
A must in Utah, Scenic Byway 12 showcases the states spectacular backcountry. Sure, you could traverse this 122-mile route in less than three hours, but you’ll need four days or more to truly savor all the natural splendor in store.
Sandstone cliffs, ochre slot canyons, and wind-sculpted slickrock are ubiquitous to this sun-drenched volcanic tableland. Be sure to pull over and embark on a few hiking trails to allow time to soak it all in.
A detour to the jagged spires of the Bryce Canyon should be on the cards, ideally camping overnight to watch the landscape transform as the sun sets over the horizon.
Grand Staircase, Escalante National Monument, and its adjacent canyons are also worthy of a closer look. Again, setting up camp within the reserve is a sure-fire way to appreciate its charms.
Any of these awesome all-American road trips tickle your fancy?
Then what are you waiting for? Get behind the wheel with your besties and check out what this remarkable country has to offer first hand.
We’ll see you on the highway.