With so many breathtaking places in America, what started as an assignment to detail ‘5 Stunning Views’ required a second. As I went through my travel photos there was more to showcase from the best drives in the country.
Hopefully, as you Explore, you can create some other memories from the car. Or just outside of it after the stunning views cause you to pull over!
Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Located in the midwestern region of Colorado in Montrose County lies Black Canyon of the Gunnison. National Park. Looking into the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is an experience that makes you realize how small you are. The enormity of the canyon walls make the river appear as though it was a small, thin stream. The fast-rushing water of the Gunnison River has carved some of the steepest cliffs in the U.S. within the canyon.
Marbled ribbons of black, gray, white, brown, and red swirl through the rock walls as if it were painted there. There are viewpoints and overlooks along the Rim Road that circles the top of the canyon. Most all offer great views around Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. The park is also an International Dark Sky Park. That designation makes it a wonderful place to take in at night after seeing it in the daytime. Certain parts of the Rim Road are closed seasonally because of the snow in the area. Be sure to check ahead of your drive to ensure a safe trip.
Avenue of the Giants in Redwood National and State Parks
“From the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you and me…”
There’s a reason why Woody Guthrie name drops the Redwood Forest in his American standard, This Land is Your Land. It is truly one of the most remarkable places in the country. Some of the most magnificent trees in the Redwood Forest can be found along the Avenue of the Giants drive. Running parallel to Highway 101, you weave through the forest providing 31 miles of magnificent redwood trees that tower overhead.
Washington’s Olympic Peninsula
As a whole, Washington is filled with diverse beauty. The state’s splendor is really showcased in the northwest corner of the country in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Olympic National Park that encompasses this area is filled with a variety of different landscapes that change every few miles as you drive through this part of the country. From the lush, vibrant green Hoh Rain Forest to the rock formations at Ruby Beach to the snowcapped peaks of Mount Olympus among other mountains in this area, it is all truly marvelous.
Often overlooked as a prime road trip route due to California’s Pacific Coast Highway being in such proximity, the Oregon Coast holds some of the most picturesque spots in the Pacific Northwest. It boasts enormous rock formations like Haystack Rock in Cannon beach. There are also the natural wonders like Devil’s Punchbowl and Thor’s Well to check out. If you make time to break your scenic drive, there are plenty of spots to hop out of the car and explore!
Drive to the numerous capes, see the Natural Bridges at Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, or run around the sand dunes at Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. The assortment of natural beauty in this area is astounding and perfect for roadside stops. The beaches in this area tend to be windy, so if you plan on hopping out of the car during your drive, be sure to bring layers no matter what time of year.
While northwest Wyoming should not be rushed and definitely should be experienced with many stops outside of the car to really explore the area, the drive through Yellowstone National Park to Grand Teton National Park is one of the most breathtaking drives in the United States. These two national parks are some of the best in the country and offer waterfalls, lakes, geysers, hot springs, and mountain ranges. The drive through each of these parks can technically be done in a day if you don’t stop much, but they really should be done over multiple days to be able to hike, ride, and discover what a treasure this area really is. Spend a few days in one park then drive the approximately 60 miles to the next. There are many scenic routes to take within this area to see the wildlife and natural wonders.
They say it’s not just the destination that is important but also the journey getting there and that couldn’t be truer for these areas on this list. While there are many adventures to be had once arriving at these destinations, there are so many surprises to discover along the way.