1. Pacific Coast Highway
> Start / end: Crescent City, California to San Diego, California
> Miles: 988
Highway 101 south from Crescent City takes you through some of California’s best giant redwood forests. In Leggett, hop on Highway 1 to the coast, where you’ll drive along cliffs of blooming wildflowers, and can stop at the Little River Blowhole, a sinkhole that fills with ocean waves at high tide. Hiking options along the way include the short Gualala Bluff Trail, or a jaunt around Big Sur. Stop at the Golden Gate Bridge, and don’t miss the beach towns of Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara.
2. Loneliest Road
> Start / end: Pueblo, Colorado to South Lake Tahoe, California
> Miles: 1,066
U.S. Route 50 runs coast to coast from Ocean City, Maryland to Sacramento, California, but the scenery peaks through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains to the iconic Nevada corridor known as the Loneliest Road in America. Worthwhile detours are the painted rocks of Black Canyon in Gunnison National Park, Colorado, and the red sandstone formations at Arches National Park in Utah. Finish off by exploring the high mountain peaks surrounding Lake Tahoe.
3. Alaska Highway
> Start / end: Dawson’s Creek, British Columbia to Fairbanks, Alaska
> Miles: 1,459
Winding through the northlands of British Columbia, the Alaska Highway traverses the Rocky Mountains, then continues into the rugged Yukon Territory, touching on countless lakes and pristine wilderness. Don’t miss the Liard River Hot Springs and Muncho Lake in B.C., and Miles Canyon and the historic capital city of Whitehorse in the Yukon. The Highway ends in the Alaskan Tanana Valley, but for an epic finale, continue on from Fairbanks to Denali National Park.
4. Desert Rocks Trail
> Start / end: Prescott, Arizona to Moab, Utah
> Miles: 724
Beginning in the lively city of Prescott, Arizona, take route 89A through the Black Hills and stop for lunch in the historic mountain town of Jerome, which is built into a steep hillside. Head onward to Sedona for stunning red rock views and take a dip in Oak Creek Canyon. Fuel up in Flagstaff because next is a series of desert landmarks. After peering over the south rim of the Grand Canyon, head to Zion National Park and Utah’s Route 12 to explore Bryce Canyon and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. When you reach Moab, the opportunities for continuing the trek are limitless.
5. Blue Ridge Parkway
> Start / end:Front Royal, Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina
> Miles: 469
Starting at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, the Blue Ridge Parkway winds its way through the Appalachian Mountains to the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina with more scenic overlooks than you’ll be able to count. Caverns, waterfalls, preserved historic sites, and diverse forests await. Stop at the Natural Bridge, Linville Falls, and Mount Mitchell, the highest point on the eastern seaboard. For Appalachian cultural immersion, try the Blue Ridge Music Center or the Southern Highland Folk Center.