July 26, 2005

"The most beautiful highway in America."

What is it? Is it this?


tommy said...

well it depends on your mood doesn't it?

Hwy 16 between San Antonio and Kerrville Texas is hard to beat.

chuck b. said...

Pacific Coast Highway, without a doubt.

Pancho said...

A beautiful highway and nice website....almost. Not one highway in Texas listed.

For starters, besides Hwy 16 listed above, I have always been awed by the drive from around Mentone Texas into the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. This desolate highway aims directly from mesquite covered alkali flats straight to the highest point in Texas [almost 9000ft.]. The vista of El Capitan is stunning!

Harkonnendog said...

How about this?


Harkonnendog said...

U can't read it so I'm reposting the link but splitting it in half.


Peder said...

The most fun drive I've ever had was on Hwy 94 in California heading towards San Diego. Hilly, twisty and no chance to pass. Wonderful stuff.

Unknown said...

Gotta agree with H3 in Oahu.

But the Pacific Coast Highway around Big Sur is hard to beat too, at least when it's not washed out.

And Highway 280 is not bad for being so close to civilization.

Kathy Herrmann said...

I vote for I-81 in the stretch between Roanoke and Christiansburg, VA.

John McCrarey said...

Well, yes what you are in the mood for makes a difference...mountains, desert, seashore, it's all good.

I would disqualify any stretch of Interstate from consideration. Give me that two-lane blacktop anyday.

Lots of traffic also tends to diminish the scenic experience, which is why I can't vote for PCH, the hiway through Yosemite, or the Highway to the Sun in Glacier National Park. All great, but well known.

For this reason, I'm gonna have to suggest US 89-A through northern Arizona. The bridge at Lee's Ferry over the Colorado River is fantastic, and you have to view the Grand Canyon from the north rim...a completely different experience.

Ann Althouse said...

My favorite drive I've ever done was through Death Valley. I also loved "The Loneliest Road in America" through Nevada.

Skewed Left said...

Roaring Tiger: I absolutely agree. I-81 near Roanoke is hands down the most beautiful drive in the Eastern U.S. Western VA is amazing.

For non-interstate roads, NC 12 that runs through the Outer Banks islands.

Patrick said...

I've never been on many of the roads described here (though I can vouch for I-81 in VA), but I think the Natchez Trace Parkway in MS-AL-TN deserves an honorable mention. 450 miles or so from Natchez to Nashville, two lanes all the way, practically no roadside development except in the immediate vicinity of Jackson, no truck traffic at all and not heavily traveled otherwise either. I drove it 2 years ago and it was a real treat.


Bruce Hayden said...

My view is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I did like the Pacific Coast Highway.

But being born and raised in Colo., my preference is mountains, and, yes, that is a beautiful drive you cite.

That drive is really at the bottom of Montana and is the eastern end of one of the few places in Wy. that is really all that scenic. It includes Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons to the south of there.

The big differences between western Colorado and this area of Wy/Mt is that Colorado is higher, a lot more mountains, but that aren't usually quite as sharp, and from Yellowstone up is a lot damper, and thus lusher, than CO. I should add that the trip through Glacier Nat. Park is somewhat similar to the one you cite.

Bruce Hayden said...

Being a Coloradoan, it is hard to find the most scenic route here. I like it better than WY, MT, ID, because it is so much bigger, and I like drier.

Looking at a map, there appear to be almost 1,000 miles through the western part of the state marked scenic and that doesn't include 200 miles of I-70 from Georgetown to Grand Junction (but detour over Loveland Pass), which includes one the most scenic sections of Interstate - Glenwood Canyon. I would vote this the most scenic 200 miles of the Interstate system, despite having to drive through the Vail Valley (too developed now).

In the north, Idaho Springs up to Estes Park, over Trail Ridge, and then down the Colo. to State Bridge (only 15 miles to I-70). Probably my favorite, but gets crowded in the summer, esp. in Rocky Mtn. Nat. Park.

In the central, looping from either Vail or Dillon / Frisco down through Leadville, over Independence Pass into Aspen, down to Glenwood, and back I-70 to where you started.

In the south, first, Durango north through Silverton, Ouray, back around through Telluride to Cortez (and thence back by Mesa Verde to Durango).

Second, Redstone down through Peonia to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, then up through Gunnison, Crested Butte, over Kebler Pass to complete a circle, maybe 30 miles S. of Redstone (a town you would, I think love).

Third, Lake City to South Fork, and can turn that into a day drive by going over Wolf Creek pass into Durango, then back around through Silverton, etc. Unfortunately, w/o 4 wheel (not the type you have on your TT) can't get from Silverton or Ouray to Lake City, so have to go through Gunnison, making it a long day.

There are, of course, a lot of shorter very scenic routes.

Anonymous said...

Yes - Highway 50 through Nevada...."The Loneliest Road in America". Takes you right through the Great Basin (once upon a time the bottom of an ocean). 2 Lanes, no traffic and the ligthly-shrubbed, deserty earth, shaped like gentle waves, rolling away from you on all sides....

It's probably not as stunning as some of the others listed, but for sheer peacefulness and that sense of being in a grand Nowhere, it's the tops.

Bruce Hayden said...

If you want majestic Colorado is great, but Alaska is even better.

Some of my favorite trips there are Anchorage to Fairbanks (we did it on the train and stopped for a couple of days at Denali, but you can drive).

Wrangle/St. Elias down through Valdez, where you can take a ferry back to get you to Anchorage.

And finally, down through the Kenai Pen. to Homer and back.

But be warned. The distances are huge.

Bruce Hayden said...

John McCrarey mentions a trip across the top of AZ. I enjoy the trip down from Moab down through Monument Valley ending in Kayenta, which ends only 80 miles from where his does. You can stop at Canyonlands and Arches Nat. Parks along the way. Best to start though from Cisco and follow the Colorado to Moab, instead of the faster I-70 to Crescent Junction and down.

Unfortunately, just like that 200 mile stretch of I-70 I mentioned above, I travel this route way too often on my trips back and forth to Phoenix, so I get a bit jaded. But it is very beautiful.

Roger Sweeny said...

The Beartooth Highway left me cold. Emotionally. It seemed scraggly.

US 50 through Nevada (the "Loneliest Road") is pretty but not spectacular--and not really lonely; there is a significant amount of traffic. The incredible regularity of going up one range, cresting and seeing the next range in the distance, going down into the basin, then up the next range, cresting and seeing the upcoming range, going down into the basin--ten or so times--is either soothing or boring.

But keep on US 50 into Nevada and it changes. It climbs into the Front Range of the Rockies and then joins with I-70 in Salina. At which point, it plunges down into beautiful rock formations, going right through several of them. Then through the San Rafael Swell (which once almost became Utah National Park). There are a number of overlooks you can turn out on. We did it with lightning storms in the distance. Very nice.

A very different experience is Route 9 across southern Vermont from Brattleboro to Bennington. The mountains here are green and not as high. But the whole trip is pleasant and some of the views are spectacular.

Roger Sweeny said...

Utah 12 going east from US 89 deservedly makes many lists of "most spectacular" roads. It's especially good if you're into rocks and drop-offs.

Also, it goes to Bryce Canyon National Park. Unlike its neighbors Zion NP and Grand Canyon NP, Bryce is not actually a canyon, but it is prettier than both of them, and in the summer less crowded and significantly cooler.

In July and August, Zion and Grand Canyon (South Rim) are endured. Bryce is enjoyed.

Anonymous said...

Roger Sweeney -

The lightening storms in the distance in Utah! Had the same experience. Girlfriend and I had been at the Blue Grass Festival in Teluride the day before. Got up early and drove Teluride to Fallon, Nevada (almost California)the next day.

I remember the winding roads peppered with little lightening storms, maybe 500 meters wide. Literally tempests in teapots. We wound around them all morning. Great memory - thanks for bringing it back!

Robert Holmgren said...

I've travelled a great many of the roads covered in the previous posts. My preference would be for nearly any road that is a lightly travelled two lane, non-flat, with trees and vistas, interesting small towns along the way. It's just about the best thing imaginable and I can find them in every part of the country--especially the Midwest.

Ann Althouse said...

Menlo Bob: Good point. For a photography trip, the little towns are better than really scenic places.

Unknown said...

Someone jogged my memory above. The first leg of my trip out to California from Texas, 15 years ago, was on Highway 287 between Fort Worth and Amarillo. There were thunderstorms in the distance---just far enough to give me a wonderful show without endangering my drive. Truly awesome. It was as if I was getting a farewell sendoff or something. (Could have been a "good riddance" too, I didn't ask.)

In contrast, I don't think I saw lightning here in the Bay Area for almost the first 10 years I lived here. I'm looking forward to my return to Texas, where I will enjoy the shows again while sitting on my (covered) porch.

Knemon said...

6 South from Provo to I-70 in Utah is really something.

Dave said...

Lessee...beautiful highways...

114 around Gunnison, CO

67 between Fort Stockon and Alpine, TX (for a whole lotta nothin'), then 118 to my place in the middle of nowhere

Green River, UT going through Helper and Price...that's kinda pretty

along the Columbia Gorge, but that's an interstate, I think

159 out of La Grange, TX, going through Oldenburg, Warrenton,and Round Top (pop. 81)

Too many to remember & list.

Endurall Hotmail said...

Try North Georgia...

Georgia Highway 348 (Richard Russell Scenic Highway) - 14.1 miles of scenic mountain drive, overlooks. The Highway crosses the Appalachian Trail. Elevations range from 2,040 feet to 3,644 feet.

Brucen said...

The most beautiful road in America is the Going to the Sun highway across Glacier National Park. The road skirts glacial lakes McDonald and St. Mary;s as it climbs the Garden Wall to crest the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. In the Spring the road passes under and over numerous waterfalls with Heaven's Peak a snow covered sentinal high above. The first time I drove it I was so moved I turned around and drove it again in the opposite direction. Of course this meant that I had to drive it a third time to get to my destination. No Problem. I never tired of it.