Summer is just on the horizon. That means long days, warmer temperatures, and plenty of time to take a cross-country road trip. There are so many road trips out there that will satisfy even the most travel hungry wanderer, yet finding the right one can be a bit of a challenge. To help you make the best out of your summer we’ve compiled a list of ten of the best summer road trips in the U.S.
The Iconic Highway 1
California is known around the world for the famous Pacific Coast Highway or PCH. Running alongside seaside cliffs and under the shade of redwood trees, the PCH is legendary for the sights found along the way. The 300 some mile trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco, is dotted with spectacular coastal views but the climax of the trip is Big Sur. Big Sur offers the best of California’s climate. Simply picture redwood forests bumping elbows with crystal clear Pacific waters and you’ve got Big Sur. The entire trip can be done in as little as a day and a half, but with plenty of stops along the way, the 1 Highway road trip from LA to SF can easily take four to five days if you want to take your time and enjoy the scenery.
Ride the Coast on The Hana Highway
Addicted to the coast? Well, The Hana Highway on the big island of Maui may be exactly what you’re looking for. Skirting alongside beautifully tropic Pacific cliffside, the Hana Highway is certainly the jewel of Hawaii island road trips. While the trip can be done in as little as two and a half hours, there are plenty of stops along the way that can add to your overall travel time, like the black-sand beaches and sea caves found at the Waianapanapa State Park. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, there are various food stalls and small restaurants dotted along the journey, like Anthony’s Coffee Co. known for its delicious pancakes and strange but tasty coconut syrup.
Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway
Known as America’s favorite drive, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a spectacular drive through some of the most remote areas in the country. Stretching for over 400 miles, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a meandering road that can offer mind-blowing views of mountain tops, rolling vistas, and landscapes that look to be stolen out of a Lord of the Rings movie. The trip isn’t for the faint of the heart, however, as the roads can get pretty treacherous. And don’t expect to rely on Google Maps or post anything to your Insta Story, as phone service can get shaky up on the ridge. That being said, with all the stunning views to take in it’s probably to your benefit that you’ll be stuck on 1x throughout a good portion the drive.
Exploring the Wilds of Alaska
Between Anchorage and Valdez, is a network of highways that runs 300 miles through the gorgeous Alaskan wilderness. Along this route, drivers can take in soaring 14,000 feet high mountain peaks, and get up-close and personal with glaciers that have been around since the prehistoric age. One of the most breathtaking parts of the journey is during the last stretch, through the towering waterfalls of Keystone Canyon. The drive can be a bit risky during the cooler months which is why the best time to go is during the summer melt when travelers can enjoy long days and moderately warm temperatures.
Following the Canyons of the Midwest
One of the most under-appreciated parts of the country is the stretch from Las Vegas to Moab, Utah. To be fair, along the road there isn’t much to see. However, a short drive off the main highways and you’ll see why the trip from Las Vegas to Moab made the list. Along the 450 mile route, drivers can pass through Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and the legendary Arches National Park. The trip can take however long you want it to, but the drive can be done in a single day, taking roughly six and a half hours one way.
Taking the Great River Road South
Passing through ten states, and running for over 3,000 miles, the Great River Road is definitely the road trip for the experienced summer traveler. Starting at the northern end of Minnesota, and ending in the Gulf of Mexico, this stretch of highway is potentially the longest scenic byway in the U.S. If you decide to drive it straight, the Great River Road can take thirty-six hours from start to finish, however, to really enjoy the trip you might want to give yourself four to ten days. If you’re looking for the great American adventure, the Great River Road is definitely the trip for you.
Going-to-the-Sun Road in Montana
If you have plans to take a trip to Montana this summer, the Going-to-the-Sun Road should be at the top of your list. Witness 50 miles of highway that runs straight through Montana’s Glacier National Park. The road was built in 1920 to show off the beauty of national parks, and it’s easy to see that the builders definitely lived up to their goal. Due to weather conditions, the road is typically closed in the winter, but during the summer visitors get free range of this stunning mountain road.
Heading West on Route 66
While it may seem a bit overdone, hear us out, Route 66 is still the fantastic scenic road it has always been. Stretching on for a whopping 2,451 miles, the historic route passes through The Grand Canyon, along the Colorado River, beneath towering desert plateaus, and winds through the Black Mountains. The trip can take several days to complete but don’t rush it, there is plenty to see and you want to have all the time to see it. The coast-ward run from Illinois to California is a classic American journey that is certainly worth the drive.
Seeing the Best Parts of California on High 395
The Sierra Nevadas are home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the state of California. By taking the Highway 395 you can view all the Sierras have to offer on a single trip. Starting along the gorgeous blue shore of Lake Tahoe, and ending in Yosemite National Park, this 215-mile long drive can take about a day to drive from end to end. However, with so much to see, like the glimmering blue waters of Emerald Bay State Park in Tahoe, or the towering peaks of Yosemite, you’ll want to give this trip all the time it deserves.
Crossing the Country on US Route 20
If you’re really looking for a cross-country trek, no other road will do the challenge justice than the legendary US Route 20. Running for about 3,365 miles from Newport Oregon, to Boston, this sprawling road cuts through some of the most gorgeous parts of the United States. The route is partially interrupted by Yellowstone National Park which is one of the major highlights along the journey. Here travelers can gawk at the stunning colors of the Grand Prismatic Spring, or take spectacular photos of the Yellowstone River. How long it takes you to cross route 20 all depends on your own pace, but on average it’ll take several days drive from one end of the country to the other, so its best come prepared.