The U.S. boasts numerous scenic and challenging roads that car enthusiasts often consider must-drives. While opinions on the “top 10” can vary based on individual preferences, the following (not in any particular order) are commonly regarded as some of the most incredible roads for driving enthusiasts:
Pacific Coast Highway (CA Route 1)
This scenic coastal route offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. From the surf capital of Huntington Beach to the majestic redwoods in Northern California, it provides a diverse array of scenery, including the rolling vineyards of Sonoma and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Big Sur is a crown jewel along this route, with the Santa Lucia Mountains rising abruptly from the Pacific Ocean to create one of the most dramatic coastlines in the world.
Route 66, also known as the Main Street of America, is steeped in nostalgia and American history. It’s a living museum of the 20th century, featuring vintage gas stations, quirky roadside attractions, mom-and-pop diners, and a feel of the “old America” in towns like Seligman, Arizona, and Shamrock, Texas. The route is a cultural icon that offers a glimpse into the America of yesteryear while passing through eight states and three time zones.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Often referred to as “America’s Favorite Drive,” the Blue Ridge Parkway runs for 469 miles of stunning scenery. It’s famous for its wildflowers in spring, the lush greenery of summer, and the explosion of fall colors. The Parkway connects the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, offering numerous hiking trails, waterfalls, and overlooks.
Pikes Peak Highway
As one of the most famous mountain roads in the United States, Pikes Peak Highway provides a scenic and thrilling route to the summit of Pikes Peak in Colorado. The highway is an engineering marvel that offers stunning views and a chance to see wildlife. The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, known as the “Race to the Clouds,” is an annual event that tests the limits of drivers and vehicles alike.
The Overseas Highway is a unique stretch of road that leaps from island to island over 113 miles, providing an almost surreal driving experience over the open ocean. The journey from Key Largo to Key West is dotted with opportunities for snorkeling, diving, and fishing, alongside vistas of stunning sunrises and sunsets.
Olympic Peninsula Loop
The Olympic Peninsula Loop is an encapsulation of the Pacific Northwest’s enchanting wilderness. The road circles through the Olympic National Park, with detours available to the Hoh Rain Forest, one of the few temperate rainforests in the U.S., and to Hurricane Ridge for panoramic views of the park.
Teton Pass Highway (WY Route 22)
The Teton Pass Highway presents a thrilling drive with hairpin turns and elevation changes, showcasing Wyoming’s rugged terrain. The road offers unrivaled views of the Teton Range and Grand Teton National Park, where the grandeur of the mountain peaks meets the serenity of the valley.
Natchez Trace Parkway
This scenic byway traverses some of the most beautiful terrains in the states of Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. The Natchez Trace is rich in Native American and early American history, with historic sites and trails along the route that tell the stories of its past inhabitants. This 444-mile drive offers smooth roads and a dive into deep Southern history.
This spectacular road is famed for its scenic vistas and the way it cuts across the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park. It’s a marvel of engineering with narrow lanes and steep drop-offs that provide an adrenaline rush as well as access to some of the most beautiful rugged terrains in the Northern Rockies.
Million Dollar Highway (U.S. Route 550)
Part of the San Juan Skyway, this stretch of road between Silverton and Ouray is often called the “Million Dollar Highway.” It is known for its steep grades, lack of guardrails, and jaw-dropping scenery, including views of the Red Mountain Pass, abandoned mines, and the Uncompahgre Gorge. The drive, especially in winter, is not for the faint of heart but is incredibly rewarding for its historical significance and scenic beauty.
Whether it’s the coastal allure of the Pacific Coast Highway, the historic sprawl of Route 66, or the mountainous grandeur of Going-to-the-Sun Road, these drives capture the essence of the American landscape. For those looking to experience these epic routes from the driver’s seat of a classic car, consider financing your next classic with Woodside Credit. With tailored financing options designed for classic car enthusiasts, you can take the wheel of your dream ride and set off on these iconic highways to create your own legendary road tales.
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Feature photo credits: Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.