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The most scenic drives in America

Wayne County, Michigan laid the world’s first mile stretch of paved road in 1909 just outside Detroit between Six and Seven Mile Roads. And today, according to the CIA World Factbook, there are 2,674,826 miles of paved roads in the United States, which is more than any other country in the world. That’s right, America not only pioneered the art of the two-lane blacktop, over 100 years later we dominate the globe in road.

To create this list of America’s Best Roads we divided the nation into seven regions and chose three of the greatest roads per region. Some of our selections are about driving excitement as they twist and turn, while others are all about scenic beauty and breathtaking landscape, America’s purple mountains majesty. And some, of course, offer both.

Southwest

California Route 1

Also known as Pacific Coast Highway or PCH, California’s Route 1 follows the crashing surf of the Pacific Ocean over 650-miles from Los Angeles north past San Francisco. Don’t miss the stretch from San Simeon to Monterey.

Angeles Crest Highway

Just north of Los Angeles, this is one of the most famous and infamous twisty two-lanes in America. The motorcyclists and sports car enthusiasts who enjoy its 66 miles of curves and switchbacks every weekend simply call it “The Crest”. Remember to stop at Newcomb’s Ranch for a burger and a beer.

U.S. 191

This beautiful expanse of smooth two-lane runs more than 1,600 miles from Mexico to Canada through Arizona, Utah, Wyoming and Montana. Don’t miss the twisty and scenic 94 miles through the Apache National Forest from Clifton to Alpine in southeastern Arizona. Sometimes called The Devil’s Highway.

Northwest

U.S. Route 101

Also known as the Oregon Coast Highway No. 9, this two-lane picks up where California’s Route 1 leaves off and runs all the way to the Washington border. It hugs the Pacific and the Oregon Coast Range for over 360 miles, getting mountainous at times.

Hells Canyon Road

This Idaho slab runs along the Snake River right on Oregon’s border in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. It not only has one of the coolest names on this list, but it offers some of the most incredible views in the country.

Scenic Byway 12

The beauty of Utah is on display as you wind your way over the 150 miles that is Highway 12. The winding two-lane passes through Red Canyon, past the natural rock formations of Bryce Canyon National Park, past the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and over Boulder Mountain.

Midwest

Hocking Hills Loop

One of Car and Driver’s favorite driving roads, this 14-mile strip of Ohio blacktop is the southernmost loop of the Hocking Hills Scenic Byway. It circles the Hocking Hills State Park past the iconic sites of Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls and Ash Cave.

Scenic Ridge Road

North of Savanna, Illinois in the northwest corner of the state, this two-lane will share the beauty of rolling hills, scenic vistas and seasonal foliage as it winds its way 23 miles north to Elizabeth.

Historic Hills Scenic Byway

Southeast Iowa’s best stretch of road winds its way through four counties for 110 miles along the Des Moines River through old scenic and charming old steamboat port towns including Bonaparte and Farmington.

Southeast

Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap

US 129 on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee is one of the world’s most famous driving roads. Motorcyclists and driving enthusiasts come from all over the world to take on its 11 miles and 311 challenging corners. Don’t miss the Tree of Shame, which is filled with motorcycle and car parts from visitors that went home by bus.

Natchez Trace Parkway

This 444-mile long stretch runs through Tennessee, Alabama and most of Mississippi. Also known as “The Trace”, the National Park Service calls this meandering two-lane a drive through 10,000 years of history as it will expose you to the founding and evolution of this region.

Overseas Highway

U.S. Highway 1 is the longest north-south road in America running from Maine to Florida but its most beautiful stretch connects Miami to the Florida Keys. The Overseas Highway is just that, a 110 mile drive over 42 bridges that connect the islands to the America’s mainland.

South

Talimena Scenic Byway

Connecting Talihina, Oklahoma and Mena, Arkansas 54-miles east, this windy blacktop offers incredible views of the Ouachita National Forest, which is best seen during the fall foliage. This stretch is also known for wildlife sightings in the Talimena State Park.

Devil’s Backbone

In the heart of Texas between Austin and San Antonio, this 51 mile loop of twists and turns shows off the Lone Star state’s rolling hills, expansive valleys and limestone hills. Sometimes called the “Most Haunted Stretch of Texas Highway” because of the region’s violent past, it has become one of America’s greatest roads.

Texas 207 Highway

North Texas is stacked with desolate and scenic drives, and one of the best is State Highway 207 between Claude and Silverton in the state’s panhandle south of Amarillo. The 48-mile run, which includes a few twists and turns, as well as long straights, shows off the red rock cliffs of Palo Duro Canyon and the Red River, made famous in the 1948 John Wayne movie of the same name.

Northeast

Hawk’s Nest Highway

Part of New York State Route 97, this scenic and hilly two lane cuddles the Delaware River and has become a favorite of driving enthusiasts and motorcyclists looking to bust out of nearby New York City. The best stretch starts four miles north of Port Jervis and runs 70 miles to Hancock.

Vermont Route 100

This is the longest road in The Green Mountain State, running up its spine for 216 miles from the Massachusetts border to the small town of Newport. The ribbon of road slices through the beautiful Green Mountain National Forest and the Mad River Valley.

Kancamagus Scenic Byway

Named for an Indian Chief that brought piece to the region, this twisty and fast route cuts across the heart of New Hampshire. Locals call it “The Kanc”, and the 36.5-mile run has become a favorite as it rises and falls through the White Mountain National Forest.

North

Beartooth Highway

If you’re looking to see Big Sky Country, go to Southern Montana and drive the Beartooth’s 68-miles through the Northern Rockies. The road climbs to 11,000 ft., and offers breathtaking views of mountains, valleys, and glacial lakes. Due to weather it is closed from October to Memorial Day.

Badlands Loop State Scenic Byway

Every August tens of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts head for the Black Hills and gather in southwest South Dakota for the Sturgis Rally. And the roads are part of the area’s appeal, including SD 240 not far from Mount Rushmore. The 31-mile stretch cuts through Badlands National Park past some of America’s more unique countryside.

San Juan Skyway

A 233-mile loop through southwest Colorado, the San Juan slices Durango, Silverton and Telluride. The drive is as much a history lesson of the region’s silver boom of the late 1800s as it is an excuse to take in the majestic Rocky Mountains and Telluride’s unique mix of old town charm, private jets and ski bums.