Route ideas

These memorable drives all now form part of RoadTrip America's route planner section. Click the relevant link for a complete guide to each route, including points of interest along the way, mileages/timings, more photos and a detailed Google map.

Mountains and CloudsColorado road trip: Fort Collins to Hot Sulphur Springs via Rocky Mountain NP

Road trips don’t get much better than this. Start at a once dry city now famous for its beers then makes your way high up into the Rocky Mountains, taking in an unforgettable drive along the highest continuous paved highway in the USA. Descend to a historic western town by the side of a lake and end up at one of the country’s oldest hot spring resorts. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.  

Colorado Highway 141

Colorado road trip: Grand Junction to Telluride via the Unaweep-Tabeguache Byway

The first section of the spectacular Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic Byway winds its way through the remote but breathtaking Unaweep Canyon, 1,200-ft granite walls rising from green fields. From Gateway it’s red rock country with the road running alongside – and often high above – the Dolores River. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.  

Delaware Route 9Delaware road trip: New Castle to Fenwick Island, a journey of coasts and Capitals

Take a trip back in time through Delaware’s quiet coastal regions. You’ll take in museums, historic buildings, the state’s capital and guides in period customs who’ll explain it all to you. Above all though, you’ll pass through unspoilt countryside ranging from wildlife-rich salt marshes to sandy beaches that look out onto the Atlantic Ocean. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here

Sawtooth Scenic Byway 2Idaho road trip: Sawtooth Scenic Byway

This spectacular route begins in Shoshone then heads north past some of Idaho’s most spectacular scenery including lakes, forests and the Sawtooth Mountains (pictured). Stop along the way to explore ancient ice caves, people-watch in the pretty town of Ketchum or, if you’re feeling energetic, go white water rafting near Stanley. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here

02 Perrine Bridge1Idaho road trip: Thousand Springs Scenic Byway ... plus

Starting at Shoshone Falls, follow the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway north before heading west on Old U.S. 30. From Bruneau you’ll head south to Hot Springs where you’ll pick up unpaved and gravel roads (all driveable) to an unforgettable view of Bruneau Canyon, one of the State’s great hidden secrets. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here

04 GalenaIowa/Illinois road trip: Cedar Rapids to Galena – Motorcycles, Mississippi and Ulysses S Grant

The views may not be spectacular but approach it in the right frame of mind and the huge open skies of eastern Iowa provide a real sense of freedom and escape. Highlights include Field of Dreams, National Motorcycle Museum and National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.

04 Iowa RiverIowa road trip: Des Moines to the Amana Colonies along the Iowa River Valley Scenic Byway

The first section of this trip may not be the most inspiring you’ll ever drive but once this is under your belt you’re into lovely rural Iowa. The Iowa River Valley Scenic Byway, is particularly picturesque and leads to a fascinating and historic seven village community, the Amana Colonies. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.

04 Back road IowaIowa road trip: John Wayne to Jesse James – heading west from Des Moines

Here’s a lovely scenic drive that gives you an excuse to discover the dustiest of Iowa’s dusty back roads. In little more than 100 miles you’ll visit John Wayne's birthplace, the Bridges of Madison County, a fascinating collection of vintage aircraft and, finally, the site of the West’s first train robbery. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.

03 Brices Cross RoadsMIssissippi, Alabama and Tennessee road trip on the Natchez Trace

The northern section of the Natchez Trace - from Elvis' birthplace (Tupelo) to Music City (Nashville) - takes  you through 183 miles of unspoilt woodlands. As well as the luscious rich greenery, this historic trade route also takes you past historic Civil War sites, Indian burial mounds and the final resting place of Meriwether Lewis. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.

Beartooth Mountains

Montana road trip: Red Lodge to Yellowstone on the Beartooth Highway

Few would argue that this northeast route is anything other than the most spectacular drive into Yellowstone National Park. Beartooth Highway is one of America’s great routes, following long winding climbs up to high passes offering staggering views over snow capped mountains. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.

Lake SherburneMontana road trip: Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier NP

One moment you’re making your way past fast flowing blue-gray glacial rivers, the next you’re into the steep inclines and precipitous overhangs for which this road is famous. This 50-mile drive is not for the faint-hearted but a firm hand on the wheel is rewarded with the most breathtaking views of this majestic mountain scenery. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.

Gates Of The Mountains1Montana road trip: Helena to Havre thru Lewis and Clark Country

This journey follows the Missouri north through Montana’s Russell Country, past photogenic mountain views and offering numerous opportunities to stop and explore key points along Lewis and Clark’s expedition of discovery. As the river turns and heads east, this route continues north through open plains into ‘Big Sky’ country. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.

Lincoln Highway

Nebraska road trip: Lincoln Highway

For most of its 468 miles, U.S. Highway 30 follows the former route of the Lincoln Highway “from grain elevator to grain elevator” across Nebraska. This is a drive that offers a range of diversions for the driver who’s looking to search out a bit of old America, including North Platte Canteen and Front Street, Ogallala. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.

05 WindmillNebraska road trip: Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway

While the claim that this is one of America’s 10 most beautiful byways may be overstating the case, Nebraska Highway 2 is undoubtedly a picturesque drive. Start off in the Lincoln Highway city of Grand Island, head north west through the natural scenic beauty of the Sandhills and finish off with a visit to Carhenge, a classic road side attraction. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here

Chimney RockNebraska road trip: Western Trails Historic & Scenic Byway

Follow the North Platte River and retrace the steps of the pioneers on the Oregon Trail. This drive passes through gentle, rolling hills and past a succession of historically important sites including Chimney Rock (pictured) , Scotts Bluff and the site of the Great Smoke, where the Horse Creek Treaty was signed. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here

New Mexico road trip: Trail of the Mountain Spirits

This picturesque and extraordinarily varied loop makes its way north from historic Silver City through the dense woodland of Gila National Forest to the 13th dwellings of the Mogollon people. For the return journey, the Trail of the Mountain Spirits takes you through beautiful green rural countryside before turning west back to Silver City past the US's oldest copper mine. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here

New Mexico road trip: Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway

Tread in the footsteps of the West's most famous outlaw and pay your respects to the nation's favorite bear. This drive follows two of the three sides of the beautiful Billy the Kid Scenic Byway, taking in the town of Lincoln, site of the infamous Lincoln County War, calling in at the final resting place of Smokey Bear then heading north to the 'ghost town' of White Oaks. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here

US Route 6Nevada road trip: Great Basin National Park west on US 6

315 miles across inhospitable desert country with just two old mining towns - Ely and Tonopah - for refreshment breaks doesn't sound too inviting. But it’s actually a wonderful journey through wide open spaces and a couple of towns packed full of history, plus, if you’ve got the time, the beautiful and little visited Great Basin National Park to start with. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here

08 Grandfather Mntn BearsNorth Carolina road trip: Cherokee to Cumberland Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway

The North Carolina section of the Blue Ridge Parkway begins in the home of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, passes by the 250-room pseudo-French Biltmore House, and heads northeast through a series of heavily wooded mountain regions, from the Pisgahs to the Black Mountains and the Appalachians. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here

04 Hot rod

North Carolina/Tennessee road trip: Cherokee to Gatlinburg via the Great Smoky Mountains

Take a drive through the Great Smoky Mountains and see for yourself why this is – by a long way – America’s most visited national park. You’ll find waterfalls, sun-dappled trails and wonderful long distance views over the mountains themselves, complete with the smoke-like “fog” that gives this range its name. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here

01 Salem SueNorth Dakota road trip: Mandan to Dickinson on Old Red/Old Ten Scenic Byway

Follow the route of Old Highway 10 through some of North Dakota’s loveliest rural countryside. Taking in open prairie, rolling hills, charming small town communities and some of the world’s largest roadside attractions (including Salem Sue, pictured), Old Red/Old Ten delivers a sense of the scale and remoteness of this part of North Dakota. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here

05 North Dakota Road

North Dakota road trip: Fargo to Jamestown the roundabout way

Take a trip through a part of the country that hasn’t changed in decades, with its communities centred around grain elevators, farm supplies outfits and the occasional local store. Not exciting enough? Think again. This drive also takes in the World’s Second Tallest Structure, an intercontinental missile site and the World’s Largest Buffalo. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.  

Abandoned Barn, Little Missouri National Grassland, NDNorth Dakota road trip: Dickinson to Williston via Theodore Roosevelt NP

This quiet and often remote-feeling drive takes in the history and nightlife of busy little Medora, the beauty and wildlife of North Dakota’s Badlands in the form of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and ends close to the Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence, one of North Dakota’s many Lewis & Clark-related sites. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.   

Peters Creek S-Bridge

Ohio west to Columbus on the Historic National Road: road trip

Take a drive across east Ohio on the road that helped build America – the Historic National Road. This scenic route through rural Ohio passes by a number of original National Road features (included the S-bridge pictured) then takes a diversion to the birthplace of General William Tecumseh Sherman before ending up in the state capital, Columbus. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here

Depoe Bay sunsetOregon from the Columbia River to Depoe Bay on the Oregon Coast Highway : road trip

This is the northern section of one of the world’s great coastal drives. Head south from Astoria where the Columbia River empties into the Pacific Ocean and you pass by a whole series of unforgettable coastal views - including spectacular Haystack Rock - before arriving in Depoe Bay, the world’s smallest natural harbour. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.  

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Oregon/California: road trip Newport to Jedediah Smith Redwood SP

This wonderful coastal drive takes in rugged cliffs, picturesque lighthouses, endless sand dunes and arguably the most beautiful beach in the whole of Oregon. And at the end of the route there’s the majestic wonder of California’s redwoods. There’s even time to take in a collection of life-size dinosaurs. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here

04 Multnomah Falls

Oregon Historic Columbia River Highway: road trip

‘Majestic’ is an overused term but entirely appropriate when used to describe this most scenic of byways. Steep hills and cliffs rise up from the broad waters of the Columbia and photo opportunities present themselves at every turn. Must-sees include Vista House, Multnomah Falls (pictured) and Rowena Crest. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.

02 Highway 14 2South Dakota road trip:  Pierre to the Badlands

This is how the world imagines American road trips to be. For a hundred miles or so, you’ll be travelling an empty Highway 14 across wide open plains under brilliant blue skies. Simply stunning, By the time you reach the famous Wall Drug Store and Badlands National Park, you’ll be wishing the drive was twice as long. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.

01 Mount RushmoreSouth Dakota road trip: Mount Rushmore plus – a Black Hills sampler

Take the slow route and get a taste of the Black Hills. Along the way you'll visit two of America's greatest sculptural achievements, Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial, experience the twists and turns of the unique Iron Mountain Road, take a diversion through buffalo country and end up in Deadwood, packed full of Western history. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.

Texas road trip: Marathon to Marfa via Big Bend

This memorable drive heads south through dramatic desert country, then into Big Bend National Park, with its spectacular mountains, massive canyons and the Rio Grande. From here the Texas River Road passes by Terlingua Ghost Town then traces the Rio Grande's route through scenic border country. The final leg of this route heads north to Marfa, renowned for its gastro culture. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.

Texas road trip: Del Rio to Alpine past Cactus and Canyons

Follow this 200 mile drive west on US Highway 90 and you travel through a landscape of desert, canyons, rivers and mountains, made all the more magnificent by the brilliant blue Texan sky. This is road-tripping at its best, delivering a real sense of having the whole world to yourself as the melting, empty highway disappears into the distance. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.

Shenandoah hillsVirginia road trip: Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park

The northern section of this 105-mile long road offers clear views way out over Shenandoah Valley. Heading south, these gradually develop into the classic Blue Ridge Mountain vista of tree-covered mountains layered one behind another in fading shades of bluey-green. Keep an eye out for bears – around 600 of them live along the way. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.

01 Farm TrailVirginia road trip: Cumberland Knob to Rockfish Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway

Head through Virginia on the Blue Ridge Parkway and travel back in time a little. From rustic Rocky Knob Cabins to old farm buildings, from fiddle and banjo at the Blue Ridge Music Center to moonshine stills at Mabry Mill, this is a drive that demands you slow down and experience these beautiful mountains. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.

Buffalo Bill Scenic Byway

Wyoming road trip: Cody to Fishing Bridge, Yellowstone National Park

Theodore Roosevelt described this route as "the most scenic 50 miles in the U.S." and it’s difficult to argue. The drive from Cody to Yellowstone through the rugged canyon carved by the Shoshone River really is one of America’s most beautiful drives. Keep an eye out for elk, moose, bighorn sheep and both black and grizzly bears. Route highlights, map, mileages and photos here.

© Copyright: Peter Thody 2017