20 U.S. Road Trips With Stunning Scenery You Have to See
The Arkansas Ozarks' Pig Trail Scenic Byway clocks in at only 19 miles in length but has more than its share of natural beauty and gentle rolling hills. It may have been used by Native Americans or fur trappers, and was heavily trafficked during the Civil War by troops from both sides. Today, travelers enjoy mountain views, waterfalls, rock formations, and the beautiful Mulberry River. Given the short trip, it may be tempting to pay the $20 general admission (down to $10 for the youngest children) to see more than 130 exotic cats at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, but the Victorian-style town of Eureka Springs is free to walk around. The entire downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places.
This short 29-mile route goes through the foothills of Napa Valley wine country, serving as a refreshing alternative to traffic-clogged Highway 29. Along with views of vineyards and mountains, there are a number of wineries with tastings and tours along the way. Before setting off, stop at the welcome center in downtown Napa or look online for two-for-one tasting coupons.
Highway 14 links Santa Fe to Albuquerque, connecting travelers to old mines and ghost towns via the roughly 40-mile Turquoise Trail, named for early efforts of the native population to mine and use the stone. Anticipate an impressive view atop Sandia Crest, and for a unique and inexpensive break along the way, check out the Tinkertown Museum, a quirky, extensive collection of carved figurines ($3.50 for adults, $3 for "geezers," and $1 for kids 4 to 16).
Between the harbor town of Seward and the port town of Anchorage, this trail is 127 miles of mostly unspoiled wilderness. Pull over for salmon viewing at Moose Creek (a good summertime activity) or gaze at Kenai Lake, a uniquely shaped zig-zag lake in Chugach National Forest famous for its scenery.
Travel these 480 miles for breathtaking scenery and some nifty dinosaur history. Along the way, stop at Dinosaur National Monument ($20 a car for entry valid up to seven days) to check out dinosaur fossils and learn about the area in which the creatures lived and died. Arches National Park and Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry and its museum can also be found along this route (adults pay only $5 to get in) as well as a few other stops that highlight the area's famous historic giant reptiles.
Officially known as California State Route 1, the Pacific Coast Highway is a popular locale for a 656-mile road trip that begins in Monterey and ends in Morro Bay. Dazzling views of soaring cliffs along the Pacific Ocean coastline, paired with tight turns, makes this a scenic trip that takes about five hours to complete. Along the way, make sure to stop at the Bixby Creek Bridge for photos -- it's one of the tallest single-span concrete bridges in the world.
From Chicago, to Santa Monica, California, Route 66 was one of the first highways in the original U.S. highway system. It has since been replaced in segments by the newer Interstate Highway System, but enthusiasts can still navigate many of the original 2,448 miles. The route is littered with old hotels and attractions from when the highway was at its peak, and many are still in business. Along the way is Seligman, Arizona, which has 456 residents and was an inspiration for the 2006 Pixar film "Cars." The Harvey House Railroad Depot in Barstow, California, now houses the free Route 66 Mother Road Museum.