America's Most Iconic Drives
- World's Most Visited Tourist Attractions
- America's Most Dangerous Airports
Automobile ads love to show shiny vehicles cruising open highways under blue skies, with mountains and beaches nearby. But when was the last time you took a drive like that? For most of us, our cars are merely workhorses to haul us around town.
Still, it’s easy to break out of the rut. Magnificent roads are never far—routes that slice through forests, dance along the coastlines, and thread through mountain passes. They’re scenic drives, yes, but they’re also classically American. And once you find the right route, it’s easy to rediscover the exuberant freedom of the open road.
Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia to North Carolina
For most of its 469-mile route, the Blue Ridge Parkway alternates between grand panoramas and up-close looks at lush forests and meadows. That’s no surprise considering that it runs atop the Appalachian Mountains between Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains of far western North Carolina. The parkway is a leisurely cruise rather than a roller coaster, with one exception—its most breathtaking section, the Linn Cove Viaduct, which skims the treetops as it winds around the parkway’s highest peak.
Where to Stop: Grandfather Mountain. Rising high above Linn Cove, this 5,837-foot peak offers great views and the famous “Mile High Swinging Bridge.”
Built in the Roaring 1920s to tempt drivers to explore the national parks, Going-to-the-Sun Road is a breathtaking 50-mile drive across Montana’s Glacier National Park. Rising up between a pair of deep-blue alpine lakes, the road was cleverly crafted to show off the best vistas with the least negative impact on the park’s fragile environment. It’s closed every winter by snows, which can reach up to 80 feet in depth.
Where to Stop: Logan Pass. After cutting across the sheer escarpment of the Garden Wall, the road reaches its literal and figurative high point atop 6,646-foot Logan Pass, where herds of wild mountain goats can be seen trampling across wildflower meadows.
Hill Country Highways, Texas
At roughly the geographical center of the Lone Star state, the sparsely populated Hill Country region mixes sagebrush plateaus with deep canyons and fast-flowing rivers. And just outside the idyllic hamlet of Utopia, a series of winding roads—Highways 335, 336, and 337—offer an intense taste of the rugged topography. Climbing up and down canyons and twisting along angular rock walls, these roads offer an adrenaline blast for anyone brave enough to open up the throttle.