9 Great American Road Trips


Sometimes all we want to do is get into our car or motorbikes and hit the road. Sometimes we just want to forget about our everyday troubles while exploring our beautiful country. In this article, we’re bringing you on a cross-country trip through several routes in the U.S. that will satisfy different tastes for adventure, nature, and historic trails.

Northeast

Vermont: Ethan Allen Highway: Fall Foliage Wonders from Burlington to Bennington

The Ethan Allen Highway, or US Highway 7, spans 138 miles from Burlington, VT all the way south to Bennington. On this five-hour road trip, you will experience everything that makes New England so beautiful. From the idyllic covered bridges to the historic towns that date back to the 1700’s, this road trip will make you feel like you have taken a step back in time. History lovers will not want to miss the Rokeby Museum, a museum dedicated to the Underground Railroad or the town of Brandon which houses over 240 historic sites. For nature enthusiasts, you can enjoy miles and miles of fall foliage. Starting at the beautiful Lake Champlain you will travel south through Mt. Philo State Park and into the Green Mountain National Forest.

Massachusetts: from Boston to the Berkshires

This 121-mile or 6-hour journey starts in Boston and travels through Brookline, Sudbury, Worcester, Amherst, Northampton, and Pittsburg. For literary fans this route is for you, in Sudbury, you will find the Rustic Wayside Inn where it was featured in poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ‘s “Tales of a Wayside.” Not to mention a schoolhouse not too far down the road where a little girl named Marry brought a little sheep to school if you catch my drift. This route shows some spectacular sites inspirational to Dickinson and Melville. Some other eye-catching sights are not only this route’s impeccable beauty but the Higgins Armory Museum as well as the House where John F. Kennedy was born. 

New York: Hawks’ Nest

You may have seen this route before on your television screen as it is a popular site for shooting car commercials. Thanks largely to its curves and the beautiful greenery that surrounds it, this road is a favorite of TV crews and bikers alike. About four miles away from Port Jervis lies the section of New York Route 97 known as the Hawk’s Nest. This portion of the highway provides especially beautiful views. This winding road hugs the side of a cliff giving you views of the river below and the remnants of what was once the Delaware and Hudson Canal. Drive a few miles further down the road and see the country’s oldest wire suspension bridge called “The Delaware Aqueduct”. This route is perfect for thrill seekers and nature lovers alike.

 

Southeast

Tail of the Dragon

This trail is a legendary part of the U.S. Route 129 that crosses the Tennessee/North Carolina state line, bordered by the Great Smoky Mountains and the Cherokee National Forest. With its 318 curves in only 11 miles of length, it is “the destination” for die-hard motorcycle and sports car enthusiasts. Infamous for its danger, a roller coaster for adults, riders test their cornering skills, requires bravery but also caution. I bet you didn’t know the road starts by the so-called Fugitive Dam in which Harrison Ford jumps off it in the famous movie scene in The Fugitive. Along the road, we will see dragon sculptures that represent the thrill and danger of the area. So, buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Overseas Highway

Also known as the “Highway that Goes to Sea”; the main coastal highway between Miami and Key West runs through the Florida Keys, a beautiful coral cay archipelago. This is the ultimate road for ocean lovers: an exotic drive across coral and limestone islets and through a tropical savanna; a capturing scenic drive, especially during breathtaking sunsets when the red ball of the sun descends into the turquoise sea. This region is home to the most amazing creatures such as the American Crocodile and the Key Deer. For movie buffs out there, the iconic Seven Mile Bridge that spans for almost 7 miles above water was the setting for iconic action movies such as 2 Fast 2 Furious, Mission Impossible, and License to Kill. Some stops along the way include the Florida Keys History & Discovery Center and Key West, which so happens to be the southernmost point of the continental U.S.

Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge Parkway is an iconic mountain road that runs for 469 miles through North Carolina and Virginia, along the Blue Ridge mountain chain, connecting the Shenandoah National Park in the north and the Great Smoky Mountains in the south. Designated as a National Parkway due to its mesmerizing scenery and beautiful landscape: river valleys, mountain crests, tree-covered areas, shrubs, and wildflower. For nature lovers, this is the ultimate road to travel on, especially during the fall when the colors of the foliage turning yellow and red are the most vibrant. Notice how there are no billboards, stop signs, traffic light, only stunning nature to overlook the landscape. You’ll get to see some great sights along the way like the Virginia’s Natural Bridge, Looking Glass Rock, Civil War sites, and much more!

 

Southwest

Ancients National Scenic Byway

This 480-mile scenic byway stretches through Utah and Colorado and highlights the archaeological and cultural history of the southwestern Native Americans. To experience all this route has to offer, it is recommended you spend five days exploring the region. For a truly immersive trip, you will not want to miss the Hovenweep National Monument Visitor Center, the Edge of the Cedars State Park, the Natural Bridges National Monument, or the Valley of the Gods. This historic route is great for anybody who has an interest in archaeological and cultural heritage.

Venture down the Historic Apache Trail

History buffs, we’re heading to one of the most historic routes in North America. The Apache Trail is a 115 mile or 6-7-hour trek and was built primarily to bring supplies to build the Roosevelt Dam. The route starts in Mesa and travels throughout the Apache Junction, Apache Trail, Toronto National Monument, and the Globe-Miami. Besides the amazing scenery and breathtaking open road, let’s discuss what we’re heading into, such as: Weaver’s Needle, Toronto National Monument, and Cafe at Tortilla Flats. Weaver’s Needle is a 1,000-foot rock visible for miles and offers an adventurous hiking trip to the top! Toronto National Monument is a preserved village in the Superstition Mountains built and lived by the Salado in the 13th-15th centuries. And finally, the Cafe at Tortilla Flats which is just one shop out of the many saloons in the old west town, known as Tortilla Flats. So, come along, bring your cameras and wits, and enjoy your time.

Route 66

When you picture the quintessential American road trip, there is a good chance that you are thinking of Route 66. The highway originally ran 2,448 miles from Chicago, Illinois all the way to the west coast in Santa Monica, California. The route was a major path for western migration, especially during the great Dust Bowl in the 1930s. After years of improvements and changes, the highway was removed from the US Highway system in 1985. Today, the “Historic Route 66” runs from Illinois to Arizona and features a bevy of historical sites and tourist attractions. Make a pit stop at the Walnut Canyon National Monument or pick up a souvenir at the Jack Rabbit Trading Post. Don’t forget your camera, it’s time to get your kicks on Route 66.

 

About the Author

Matthew Young is an automotive reporter from Boston. As a freelance journalist with a passion for vehicles. Matthew writes about everything on 4 wheels, be it race cars, SUVs, vintage cars, you name it. When he is not at his desk writing, he can be usually found helping his dad in the garage. You can reach Matthew @mattbeardyoung.