Though we live in a car culture, we have a tendency to take our roads for granted (unless it’s to complain about potholes in the spring). But there are routes, highways, sometimes famous though often not, that are themselves reason enough for a journey. Yahoo Travel went in search of the roads in each state that are worth hitting.
Alabama: U.S. Highway 431 runs north and south through the state, connecting Hunstville, Gadsden, Columbus, Eufaula, and Dothan. Along the way, you’ll traverse forests and rivers, and encounter plenty of stores perfect for antiquing as well as barbecue spots. And be sure not to miss the historic homes in Eufaula.
The Seward Highway along the Turnagain Arm with the snow covered Alaska mountain range in the background. (Photo: Lucas Payne/AlaskaStock/Corbis)
Alaska: Is there a road anywhere in Alaska that is less than breathtaking? The truly iconic road though, is Seward Highway, which runs between Anchorage and Seward. It stretches 127 incredible miles across the Kenai Peninsula and along the edge of the Turnagain Arm.
Arizona: State Highway 67 — across the Kaibab Plateau to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon — is a long way from everything but worth the effort for the spectacular scenery.
Arkansas: The stretch of State Highway 7 from Hot Springs to Oklahoma, through the Ouachita National Forest, is one of the state’s first designated scenic byways.
California: Funny how highways designated with a “1” are often the most scenic. In California, State Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 101 weave along the entire coast. Try the stretch of Highway 1 from Santa Monica to Oxnard, then continue on Highway 101 to Santa Barbara. It’s the ultimate California route.
Colorado: It’s a big challenge to choose the best in a state with such epic roads. We’re going with U.S. 34 from Estes Park to Grand Lake through Rocky Mountain National Park.
Take Highway 148 through Connecticut and get a bonus ferry ride across the Connecticut River – it’s an especially gorgeous trip in the fall. (Photo: Carl D. Walsh/Aurora Photos/Corbis)
Connecticut: Driving a road with a ferry crossing should be on everyone’s bucket list. A great one is State Highway 148 where it crosses the Connecticut River — along with the Chester/Hadlyme Ferry — en route to Gillette Castle State Park.
Delaware: State Highway 1 from Seal Island Preserve, north through the Delaware Seashore State Park, is perhaps the most beautiful stretch of shoreline on the entire East Coast.
Florida: The iconic Overseas Highway through the Keys is 127 miles of Florida kitsch, ocean vistas, and island charm. It’s not to be missed.
Georgia: North Georgia is all about scenic driving. Start with Highway 60 — where it crosses the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest — for a taste of winding beauty.
Hawaii: All roads in this state are scenic, but we would be remiss if we chose any other than the Road to Hana. It’s daunting, but you will not regret making the journey.
Idaho State Highway 75 near Challis Idaho. (Photo: David R. Frazier Photolibrary, Inc. / Alamy)
Idaho: You know you want to see Sun Valley anyway, so take Highway 75 north from Shoshone into the Sawtooth National Forest. The road continues another 100-plus gripping miles north of the Ketchum/Sun Valley area.
Illinois: In case you ever wanted to do the whole Route 66 thing, the Mother Road begins in Illinois. Start in Chicago and see how far it takes you.
Indiana: Route 12 from Michigan City, through the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to Gary is perhaps the best way to experience Lake Michigan by car.
Iowa: The section of the Great River Road National Scenic Byway that parallels the Mississippi through ten states is an incredible journey along the mighty river.
Kansas: The best place to see the Great Plains is Kansas, and one of the best ways to see Kansas is along the Flint Hills National Scenic Byway.
Driving through the Nada Tunnel on the Red River Gorge Scenic Byway. (Photo: Pat & Chuck Blackley / Alamy)
Kentucky: The Red River Gorge National Scenic Byway has everything you look for in a spectacular road: mountains, rivers, a tunnel, and stunning scenery.
Louisiana: For a taste of genuine Louisiana, try Highway 82 from Abbeville to Port Arthur, Texas. It parallels the Gulf of Mexico and is part of the Creole Nature Trail.
Maine: The Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway is 78 miles of New England beauty in any season.
Drive across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for four miles of spectacular views of Chesapeake Bay. (Photo: iStock)
Maryland: There are average bridges, and then there are bridges you must cross in your lifetime. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge is one of the latter. It’s a little over four miles on U.S. Highways 50 and 301, connecting the state’s eastern and western shores.
Massachusetts: Highway 20 from Russell to Lee is better known as Jacob’s Ladder Scenic Byway. Just the name is enough to make it a must-do.
Michigan: Highway 2 across the southern edge of the Upper Peninsula is a spectacular way to experience the northern reaches of Lake Michigan.
Minnesota: In a state with so many lakes, it’s actually easy to forget that it borders the big one. Cruise Highway 61 along North Shore Scenic Drive from Duluth to Grand Portage.
The scenic Natchez Trace Parkway (Photo: Jim Richardson/Corbis)
Mississippi: The Natchez Trace Parkway is 444 miles long from Natchez, Miss., to near Nashville. Whether you drive the whole thing or just a tiny section, it will take you through the South in a way you’ve never experienced it before.
Nebraska: U.S. Highway 30, from Omaha to Kimball, is known as the Lincoln Byway. It is a trip through the history of the Great Plains, including a sample of the Pony Express route and the Union Pacific first transcontinental railroad.
Nevada: Yes, you can still drive across the Hoover Dam. And you should, because as spectacular as it is, you can’t see the dam from the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge on U.S. Highway 93. Drive both for the complete dam and Colorado River experience in Nevada.
Sunrise along the Kancamagus Highway (route 112), which is one of New England’s scenic byways located in the White Mountains, NH. (Photo: Erin Paul Donovan / Alamy)
New Hampshire: The Kancamagus National Scenic Byway is a brief 26 miles, but sometimes you don’t need a drive to be an epic journey. It’s the perfect way to experience the state.
New Jersey: The Delaware River Scenic Byway is another short stretch from Frenchtown to Trenton that lets you explore the beauty of the Delaware River Valley along a 33-mile route.
New Mexico: U.S. Highway 64 from the Arizona border traverses some of the most spectacular scenery the state has to offer, from the high desert to mountain passes. It takes you through Farmington, Chama, and Taos before connecting to Interstate 25 south of Raton.
New York: Another iconic bridge that will take your breath away is the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connecting Brooklyn and Staten Island. It is truly a marvel of engineering.
The twisting, turning Tail of the Dragon road in Deals Gap, North Carolina. (Photo: Mark Scheuern / Alamy)
North Carolina: Perhaps the most famous road in the country among motorcycle enthusiasts is U.S. Highway 129 south of Deals Gap, nicknamed Tail of the Dragon. Drive it if you dare.
North Dakota: In a state where most of the roads are straight and at right angles to each other, the curvy Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway is not only beautiful, but also it’s refreshing.
Ohio: The 293-mile Lake Erie Coastal Ohio Trail is the most spectacular way to see the lakeshore from Toledo to the New York border.
Oklahoma: The Talimena National Scenic Byway begins at Talimena State Park in eastern Oklahoma and takes you through the Ouachita Mountains to Queen Wilhelmina State Park in Arkansas. Mountains, streams, and wildlife, oh my!
The Historic Columbia River Highway combines gorgeous scenery, history, and waterfalls. (Photo: Craig Tuttle/Design Pics/Corbis)
Oregon: Any road that includes a waterfall and the history of Lewis and Clark is a must-drive. The Historic Columbia River Highway along the northern border certainly qualifies.
Pennsylvania: The northwest corner of the state is where farmland is replaced by forests, and U.S. Highway 6 is the scenic route that connects them. Travel from the Allegheny National Forest to a cluster of state forests along the route toward Scranton.
Rhode Island: For a taste of the state’s best scenery, try State Highway 138, which connects Newport and Jamestown to the eastern shore via the heart-stopping Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge and the Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge.
South Carolina: The beauty of the Savannah River is yours to behold along the Savannah River National Scenic Byway, which runs along Highways 24 and 81 from Oakway to Clarks Hill.
Tennessee: For a short road that traverses the Tennessee/Kentucky border, you cannot beat the Woodlands Trace. It’s sandwiched between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake and looks as majestic as you’d imagine.
Texas: The scenery in a state this size is so diverse that you can’t see it all, but Highway 16 from Fredericksburg through Kerrville to Bandera will cover some of the best there is.
The causeway to Antelope Island offers spectacular views of the mountains and the Great Salt Lake on both sides. (Photo: Wendy/Flickr)
Utah: If you consider the Great Salt Lake a must-see, then you must drive the Antelope Island Road. It crosses the lake from Ogden to the state park, where you can enjoy the diverse beauty of the lake.
Vermont: U.S. Highway 7 winds through the Green Mountain National Forestnorthward to Rutland. It’s lovely, but the real stunner lies just to the west of the main road on Highway 7A from Bennington to Manchester.
The Blue Ridge Parkway offers beautiful views of the lush mountain scenery from Virginia down to North Carolina. (Photo: Kay Gaensler/Flickr)
Virginia: The Blue Ridge Parkway connects the Shenandoah National Park near Waynesboro with Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. It is 469 miles of incredible beauty. Drive a piece or drive it all for the beauty of Appalachia.
Washington: From Puyallup, travel east on Highway 410 through Mount Rainier National Park for the most stunning views of the most glaciated peak in the lower 48 states.
West Virginia: The Washington Heritage Trail National Scenic Byway pays tribute to the father of our country. Do you need another reason to make a trip through one of our most scenic states?
Wisconsin: To fully appreciate the vast beauty of Lake Superior, you can drive the Lake Superior Byway, along Highway 13 from Barksdale to Parkland.
Wyoming: U.S. Highway 287 is almost 1,800 miles long, connecting Montana and Texas. It is significant historically and economically, but there is no debate about which part of the road is the most scenic: the 30-mile section that connects Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks.
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