Traveling by road across the USA is undoubtedly the best way to see the country’s sights. The “great American road trip” has become an experience mythologized by film and literature to such a degree that people come from all over the world to experience it. The coastlines, the mountain passes, the seemingly endless desert roads disappearing into the horizon: a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Road-tripping across the US with your friends or family is a classic way to see the sights and one of the most cost-effective travel methods. You can see all the sights you want and completely control your schedule and lodgings every step of the way, curating the experience to your liking rather than conforming to some cruise directly or airport’s schedule. Taking a road trip with friends is a bonding experience second to none, and if you still need to take one, now is the time. We have searched high and low, mountain and valley, and created the ultimate road trip map for you to try out.
The Pacific Coast Highway
This is the road you see in many famous road-trip movies. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful drives in the USA and is widely considered one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the world. You will set out for your trip from San Diego and drive by some of the country’s most pristine coastal views. You can stop in Los Angeles to see the Hollywood sign and San Luis Obispo, taste the idyllic American “small town” life, and even see gorgeous landmarks like Hearst Castle. You’ll take the iconic Highway One northwards and drive by the coastal town of Monterey, which will be a real treat if you’re a Big Little Lies fan! Your terminal destination will be San Francisco, where you can take a few days to explore the colorful, hilly city and all the art, music, and quaint little coffee shops it holds.
The ‘going to the sun’ road
If mountains are more to your taste, this is your route. This fifty-mile stretch of cliff-hugging road takes you through the heart of Montana and Glacier National Park. As you can imagine, if you’ve never seen it, this park road is the ideal place to lose your cares and find yourself. The views are spectacular on a scale that only Montana can deliver. You can jump onto the road either at Route 2 or Route 86 and make your way through lush, green forests along the banks of Lake Mcdonald and then plunge into the valleys beneath the mountains. As you pass St Mary Lake, you will see an exquisite waterfall. The wildlife in the park is wildly varied, and you might be lucky enough to encounter a cross-section of it on your drive.
Blue Ridge Parkway
If you’re into long, slow drives, this route will be your ultimate idea of heaven. The Blue Ridge Parkway connects the Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountain National Park: the starting point and the destination alone make the trip worth taking! There’s a ban on billboards along this stretch of road, not a single commercial highway in sight, and a 45 mph speed limit, so you’ll have a completely uninterrupted view for your trip. Prepare to be completely immersed in your incredible natural surroundings: hours of mountains, classic foggy mornings, waterfalls, birdlife (including wild turkeys), wildflowers, and vibrantly changing leaves come to the Fall. There is no place quite like it.
Red Rock Country
The USA holds a startling array of different natural wonderlands. The desert is something majestic to behold, especially from your car. Driving yourself through Red Rock Country means that you can stop in all the small towns along the way and camp wherever you like to indulge in some nighttime desert star-bathing. We recommend that you barrel along Interstate 17 with your windows down as far as they will go and one arm slung carelessly out of the window for maximum relaxation and enjoyment. In contrast to the dense, lush green forests of our previous trail, this sandy and often desolate drive is beautiful in a completely different way. You can take in city-like skyscraper rock formations and sunsets that put the most vivid paintings to shame. Along the way, visit Montezuma Castle and Red Rock State Park to experience the desert in all its majesty.
Immortalized in song and many movies, the incredible Route 66 drive from Chicago to California is 2,451 miles. Though frequent travelers do not use the Interstate Highway system, the history of Route 66 is hard to beat as a road trip. There are several old highway towns with quaint curio stores and little diners to stop off in; there are rolling desert plains and many typically American travelers with whom you can share friendly conversation at a fuel station.
A road trip is undoubtedly the best way to explore and experience America. The options are endless, your schedule is all your own, and you meet a cross-section of humanity you would never meet on a plane or a train. A road trip is the ultimate American experience, so when will you be taking yours?