20 Awesome Destinations for a Perfect U.S. Trip

If you want a U.S. road trip, these places are a MUST! That’s the way you should go – straight into ‘the mouth of the unknown’. You will be delighted by the landscapes and the beautiful roads that are waiting you. Take a look at these places and pack your bags – the adventure is right behind the corner!

Check them out for more information and start to see our world through photos!

Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway, Cactus Flat to Wall

Why play a video game when you can drive through one? Guaranteed to get the kids off their screens, the roughly 30-mile ride through Badlands National Park transports travelers into an out-of-this-world landscape of twisted canyons, striped rock walls, native grasslands, and fantastic spires.

Photograph by Stephen St. John, National Geographic Creative

New Mexico State Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway, Chaco Canyon to Farmington

Not to be confused with the national byway of the same name, this nearly 600-mile trail celebrates the state’s Native American heritage as it weaves through Navajo Nation and Zuni land.

Photograph by Michael Melford, National Geographic Creative

Zydeco-Cajun Prairie Scenic Byway

The 283 miles scrolls through Louisiana’s Acadiana country, where French-speaking Cajuns meet wide open prairies in a fascinating mix of cultures.

Photograph by William Widmer, Redux

East Narragansett Bay, East Providence to Newport

Ease into historic Newport from points north on RI 114, a more local and scenic alternative to I-95 or I-195. On the 30-mile drive, visit Bristol’s Colt State Park to walk the bay side trails and experience 18th-century farm life at Coggeshall Farm Museum.

Photograph by John Greim, LightRocket, Getty Images

UFO Stopover Loop, Las Vegas to Alamo to Tonopah-Pahrump

Go full X-Files with Travel Nevada’s new tongue-in-cheek itinerary for intergalactic visitors. All life-forms are welcome to make the 487-mile (or 8.284e-11 light-year) trip, which includes driving Lincoln County’s Extraterrestrial Highway north of Area 51 (the off-limits military base at the center of many UFO conspiracies) and hiking the Mars-like landscape at Valley of Fire State Park in Overton.

Photograph by Bill Hatcher, National Geographic Creative

Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway

Take in towering Rocky Mountain peaks, blue alpine lakes, and two crossings of the Continental Divide in 122 scenic miles. Stop for pizza at High Mountain Pies in Leadville (elevation 10,200 feet), a former hub for silver mining.

Photograph by Pete McBride, National Geographic Creative

Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana

The 50-mile Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park is open late June into October. If you are looking for a break from driving, the park offers a free shuttle along parts of the road as well.

Photograph by Corey Arnold, National Geographic Creative

Snowy Range Scenic Byway, Laramie to Saratoga

Dubbed the “Great Skyroad” when it opened in 1926, the 95-mile alternative to I-80 (open late May to mid-November) is a sky-high feast for the eyes. The east-to-west drive provides the more scenic first glimpse of 12,013-foot Medicine Bow Peak rising above Lake Marie. Overnight at Saratoga’s historic Hotel Wolf, a former stagecoach stop, then go for a dip in the public hot springs.

Photograph by Drew Rush, National Geographic Creative

Skyline Drive

In Shenandoah National Park, the 105-mile Skyline Drive gets you hiking to waterfalls, climbing Old Rag Mountain, and savoring the house specialty at Skyland: mile-high blackberry ice-cream pie.

Photograph by Lori Epstein, National Geographic Creative

Life and Times of Lincoln Loop, Bloomington to Springfield

The Land of Lincoln turns 200 in 2018. Join the party by celebrating Illinois’ favorite son on a 200-mile round-trip loop designed by Looking for Lincoln, coordinators of the 42-county Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area. Two top stops: Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and the new Bicentennial Plaza, opening August 26.

Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Creative

Northwest Passage Scenic Byway, Lewiston to Lolo Pass

Follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark on a 202-mile photographer’s dream drive through the rugged heart of north-central Idaho. The route leads through wilderness areas, follows multiple branches of two Wild & Scenic Rivers, crosses the Nez Perce reservation, and ends at the forested and meandering 5,233-foot-high Lolo Pass at the Montana border.

Photograph by Jeff Pflueger, The New York Times, Redux

Forgotten Coast, St. Marks to Mexico Beach

Blissfully off the tourist path, the roughly 100-mile “forgotten” Gulf Coast is laid-back and altogether memorable. Fresh-shucked local oysters make it on to the menu at Apalachicola’s Hole in The Wall. St. Joseph Peninsula State Park beaches remain unspoiled. For a different perspective, climb the 100-step Cape St. George Light.

Photograph by Christian Heeb, laif, Redux

Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Lexington to Louisville

This bluegrass-and-bourbon trail features 10 mid-state distilleries. Plan a three-day drive to tour bourbon makers, such as Jim Beam and Woodford Reserve, and to watch a free morning training session at Keeneland racetrack.

Photograph by John Sommers II, Bloomberg, Getty Images

Alabama Civil Rights Trail, Birmingham to Tuskegee

Commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination by exploring places important to the Civil Rights Movement. Stops on this roughly 175-mile route (part of the 14-state U.S. Civil Rights Trail launched in January) include Selma’s infamous Edmund Winston Pettus Bridge, site of 1965’s “Bloody Sunday” attack on unarmed voting rights marchers.

Photograph by Malin Fezehai, The New York Times, Redux

North Shore Scenic Drive, Duluth to Grand Portage

Follow the Lake Superior shoreline 142 idyllic miles north from Duluth to the Canadian border. Along the way, explore eight state parks, like Gooseberry Falls, a favorite of Rosemount, Minn., native Tim Kojetin. “There are beautiful waterfalls throughout the park, and coastal cliffs that make for excellent hiking,” Kojetin says. “You can even catch the Northern Lights if your timing is right.”

Photograph by Jim Brandenburg, Minden Pictures, National Geographic Creative

Roadside Attractions Gallery, Tulsa to Miami

Wow followers on Instagram with photos of Route 66 roadside attractions—like Catoosa’s Blue Whale, Foyil’s 90-foot-tall totem pole, the giant yellow bird at Waylan’s Ku-Ku Burger in Miami, and Tulsa’s iconic Golden Driller, a 76-foot-tall concrete-and-plaster oilman. If you just have to see the towering (66 feet) pop bottle at the original Pops, detour 87 miles east to Arcadia.

Photograph by Antoine Rouleau, Getty Images

Bridges to Buttes Byway, Harrison to Valentine

If the name of this 197-mile byway doesn’t entice the kids, the big-fun Nebraska adventures will. Real and replica fossils and skeletons of 20-million-year-old mammals surface at Harrison’s Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. Roam the otherworldly rock formations at Toadstool Geologic Park, north of Crawford, then spot bison, deer, elk, and prairie dogs at Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge in Valentine.

Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Creative

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway

Abolitionists Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass were born slaves on Maryland’s rural Eastern Shore. This roughly 125-mile route begins in Cambridge and visits the one-year-old Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center. Celebrate Douglass’s bicentennial by adding on Talbot County’s Frederick Douglass driving tour (take MD-331 from Choptank).

Photograph by Michael Ventura, Alamy

Historic Route 66 and Beyond

Although I-40 replaced much of the original Mother Road, the 170-mile Toprock to Ash Fork stretch is intact. Alternate between I-40 and Route 66 for a retro road trip. Bonus: Hike the Wave near the Utah border. Plan ahead, as only 20 people per day can visit.

Photograph by Richard Barnes, National Geographic Creative

Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway, Smalls Falls to just north of Byron

Maine is more than lobsters, lighthouses, and rocky coasts. Go west (near where the state meets Canada and New Hampshire) to discover inland sights: Mountains, lakes, moose, loons, and fabled sunsets. Top photo stop along the 36-mile byway: the Height of Land overlook on Spruce Mountain, with views of Mooselookmeguntic Lake and its wild Toothaker Island.

Photograph by Aurora Photos, Alamy

 

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