What’s more fun than a road trip? A road trip across the U.S., that’s what. With countless routes to drive and stunning sights to see, our great nation is the perfect place to let your hair down and get your drive on.
Luckily, you don’t need a year-round vacation or even a hefty bank account to have an awesome road trip in the U.S. If you want to see the best of America, here are the top 9 routes you should add to your “must see” list.
Route: Red Lodge, MT to Cooke City, MT
You might want to steer clear of Beartooth Highway from October to May, since it’s snowed in around that time. Otherwise, this 68-mile section on U.S. Highway 212 is a great place to drive across northern Wyoming and see stunning sights like tundras, snow-covered mountains, and flower-infested meadows. Also, pull off the road and stop at the Custer National Forest, the Shoshone National Forest, or Yellowstone National Park to find a few relaxing places to stay.
Route: Skyline Drive, VA to U.S. Route 441, NC
If you’re a serious road tripper, you can’t miss this one. Stretching 469 miles across 29 counties, the Blue Ridge Parkway boasts more curves than your grandma’s hair after removing her rollers and is studded with lots of former Civil War battle sites. Considering how long Blue Ridge is, you’ll want to allow at least two days to travel (though some people claim they can finish the route in one day).
Route: Tellico Plains, TN to Robbinsville, NC
Cherohala was named after two national forests: Cherokee (“Chero”) and Nantahala (“hala”). The skyway snakes 43 miles from Tennessee to North Carolina and ranges from 900 to 5,400 feet above sea level.
Because of its many winding curves, Cherohala isn’t a road you want to drive during winter. But when the weather is good, Cherohala offers gorgeous views of natural landscapes as well as recreational areas where you can sit back, relax, and chill out.
Route: Across the width of Glacier National Park, MT
Since it only runs through one national park, Going-to-the-Sun doesn’t have much variety in terms of scenery. But it does have more twists and turns than a whodunit novel and is usually open by late June or early July. This 50-mile road is often covered in snow that takes 10 weeks to plow, so make sure to check the weather before you go.
Route: Arkansas 23 (southern boundary of the Ozark National Forest) to Arkansas 16 (Brashears, Madison County)
No one really knows why this 130-mile pass is called “Pig Trail.” Some say it’s named after the University of Arkansas football team, which has a wild boar on its logo. Others suggest that the trail curves like a pig’s tail (in which case it should’ve probably been named “Pig’s Tail”).
At any rate, if you like driving through dense foliage, Victorian towns, and camping sites, Pig Trail will set you on the right track, pun intended.
Route: Starts from Durango, CO, and follows U.S. Highway 160, State Highway 145, State Highway 62, and U.S. Highway 550 before looping back to Durango
You can’t get more American than this road, literally. Designated as an “All-American Road” by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation in 1996, the San Juan Mountain Skyway covers an incredible 236 miles inside Colorado. The road is dotted with picturesque towns, alpine mountains, and other breathtaking sights, making the 6-hour ride worth it.
Route: Eleven miles along U.S. Route 129, on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee
Eleven miles might not sound like much, especially compared to the other trips on this list. But there’s a good reason — or rather, reasons — Tail of the Dragon was featured in movies like In Dreams, The Fugitive, Thunder Road, and Two-Lane Blacktop.
You see, like a soap opera, the Dragon has a jaw-dropping 318 twists and turns. Many of them curve so sharply that drivers all over the country use this 11-mile road to test their cornering skills. There’s even a “Tree of Shame” where those who’ve failed to conquer the Dragon leave parts of their motorcycle. If you want to see the tree or enjoy the scenery provided by Great Smoky Mountains National Park, book your visit on an off-peak date.
Route: From Medina, TX, go west on Ranch Road (RR) 337 and stop at Leakey. From there, get on RR336 and RR335, tp loop back to Leakey
“Three Sisters” is the nickname for Ranch Roads 335, 336, and 337. While they’re not as hard to drive on as Tail of the Dragon, the Three Sisters aren’t for newbie drivers, either.
Covering 100 miles, the Three Sisters take you through winding roads along Texas’ hills, valleys, and ranches. On a map, the route looks like a lasso thrown westward, so if you get confused about where to go next, just remember the lasso!
Route: Harbor Springs to Cross Village (along the northern coast of Michigan)
Along M-119, from Harbor Springs onwards, lies the 16-mile Tunnel of Trees. Lined with foliage that changes color according to the seasons, the Tunnel of Trees is especially gorgeous in the spring and fall. Since it borders Lake Michigan, the route also offers spectacular freshwater views.
Aside from beautiful scenery, the Tunnel of Trees is also a treat for history lovers. If you drop by the Scenic Heritage Route, you can have a glimpse of what it was like to live as an Ottawan Indian, logger, trader, and trapper. You can also visit other attractions like the Pond Hill Farm, the Thorne Swift Nature Preserve, and more.
No need to stress over your next vacation. Just keep these routes in mind and you’ll have a road trip planned that will be a ride of fun, no matter which you choose. Enjoy your drive!