Where to Travel for the Most Scenic Drives in America

Sierra Nevada Mountains as seen from U.S. Highway 395 Sierra Nevada Mountains as seen from U.S. Highway 395

A road trip can be a wonderful way to see all the United States has to offer from small mountain towns to National Parks to amazing coastal views. To help you plan your trip, we’ve created a list of the most scenic drives in America.

Mountain Scenic Drives

The Southwest

The Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, Northern New Mexico

Start in the town of Taos, a former artist colony known for its art galleries and museums. Don’t miss touring the Taos Pueblo where you can learn about the culture and traditions of the native Red Willow people who have inhabited the pueblo for over 1,000 years.

To begin your scenic drive through 85 miles of national forest, mountains, mesas, and New Mexican resort communities, head north on NM 522. You will pass by the Sangre de Cristo mountains, including Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s highest mountain. Then drive through the town of Questa and descend into the Red River, which offers views of aspens and pines. To return to Taos, you will pass by Eagle Nest Lake State Park where you can fish trout or Kokanee salmon.

Flagstaff to Sedona via Highway 89A, Arizona

One of the most striking canyon drives in America, Highway 89A takes you from Flagstaff to Sedona through Oak Creek Canyon. The canyon is known for its colorful high, narrow cliffs and dramatic rock formations, providing ample fodder for photography enthusiasts.

Stop along the way at Slide Rock State Park, a former homestead and apple farm, where the natural red rocks of Sedona create a 30-foot water slide into Oak Creek.

The Ozarks

Pig trail Scenic Byway, Arkansas

The Pig Trail, 19 miles of State Hwy 23 that passes through Ozark National Forest in the Boston Mountains, is named for its popularity as a route for University of Arkansas Razorbacks fans traveling to Fayetteville for football games. This scenic byway includes mountain vistas, rivers, waterfalls, wildflowers, and fall foliage.

Stop at the Turner Bend, open since 1911, for a snack or to camp along the Mulberry River. The river also offers canoeing and whitewater rafting, but can get crowded during peak season.

Blue Buck Knob Scenic Byway, Missouri

The Blue Buck Knob Scenic Byway winds through 24 miles of the Mark Twain National Forest, offering breathtaking views of autumn foliage in the fall. This scenic drive includes dense woodlands, open pastures, and farmland through Missouri’s Ozark hill country.  At Noblett Lake Recreation Area you can camp and go horseback riding and hiking.

The Sierra Nevada

Highway 395, California

Start your Highway 395 road trip in Tahoe, which offers skiing in the winter and boating, hiking, and biking in the summer. Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America, is known for its pristine blue waters because it is situated too high for algae to form. Head from Tahoe to the Mammoth Lakes, but stop on the way at Mono Lake so you can see its tall limestone formations called tufa.

The Tioga Road, Yosemite National Park, California

The Tioga Road, or Highway 120, runs through the high Sierra Nevadas of Yosemite National Park. It is only open May - October (weather permitting), so be sure to visit in the summer or early fall.

Stop at Olmsted Point to watch hikers climb the famous Half Dome across the valley and then hike just 0.2 miles to see amazing views of Tenaya Peak, Tenaya Lake, and Mount Conness. Next stop at Tenaya Lake, the largest alpine lake in Yosemite. Here you can fish, canoe, kayak, or hike one of the many trails. 

Coastal Scenic Drives

The Gulf Coast

Coastal Connection Scenic Byway, Alabama

Spanning Alabama’s Gulf Coast, the Coastal Connection passes by gorgeous beaches, wildlife preserves, and historic sites. Start at Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary and take the boardwalk to see birds and maritime forest. Add a historical element to your drive and visit Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan on Dauphin Island, known for their roles in the Battle of Mobile Bay during the Civil War.

Then drive to the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, where you can explore the three-mile pine trail through marshes, scrub forest, sand dunes and, ultimately, the beautiful white sand beaches. Finish at the Orange Beach Marinas and schedule a boat to take you to see birds, dolphins, and other marine life.

The Outer Banks 

Outer Banks Scenic Byway, North Carolina

The Outer Banks Scenic Byway spans 21 towns, two ferries, and miles of beautiful coastal scenery. Begin your road trip along the byway at the entrance to Highway 12 and drive across the Bonner Bridge to Hatteras Island. Stop at Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and then take the free ferry to Ocracoke Island.

Then, enjoy the scenic drive along the byway before ending at Ocracoke Village. Your second ferry will take you to Cedar Island, where you can stop at the Cedar Island National Wildlife Refuge. With 11,000 acres of protected marshland and woodland, here you can connect with nature, birdwatch, and hike.

 Why Insure Your Road Trip

A road trip may just seem like an easy hop in the car with an overnight bag and your map, so why would you need travel insurance? But, often there is more to it. First, you might be flying to your destination. Then, it is likely you’ve booked hotels or vacation rentals. You’ve also probably booked a rental car or RV.

All of these add up, and when you have to cancel or reschedule your vacation, you may find you wish you had travel insurance. For example, Trip Cancellation coverage may help you recoup pre-paid, non-refundable costs of renting a car or RV, accommodations, and flights if you need to cancel your trip for a covered reason. When you are on your trip, Rental Car Damage coverage can help protect you from incurred expenses for damage from collision, theft, vandalism, natural disasters or any other cause beyond your control.

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