A road trip is one of those travel adventures everyone needs to experience. There’s something thrilling about planning out a path, making stops in small towns, and feeling the accomplishment of making it to your destination. Road trips are also often a fantastic bonding experience with your passengers as you take turns getting behind the wheel, finding songs to blast, and sharing road snacks.
What can really elevate a road trip are the views throughout the journey. That’s why we’ve found the top five best road trips throughout America for any nature lovers. On these trips, we guarantee you’ll enjoy the drive just as much as the destination.
The Cascade Loop
The Cascade Loop is commonly known as “Washington’s ultimate road trip.” This perfect loop starts 28 miles north of Seattle and totals 440-miles around Highway 2, Highway 97, and Highway 20 in Washington state. You can complete this trip in just two days, but 4-5 days allows you to enjoy the experience more thoroughly.
The majority of the loop passes through Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, showcasing a beautiful terrain of luscious green trees against a mountainous backdrop. Some of the other highlights include driving through the North Cascades, the Lake Chelan Valley, and the Columbia River.
Spend a night in Leavenworth (a.k.a. the Cascade Foothills), where it feels like you’ve been transported to a European alpine town. And, making a stop at the Silvara Cellars Winery for a relaxing afternoon of wine tasting.
The Loneliest Road
Route 50, running from Ocean City, Maryland to Sacramento, California, spans across 12 states and four state capitals. It’s been coined as “the loneliest road” in America for its miles of quiet landscape only broken up by the occasional small town. Don’t be fooled though, with the right road trip partner, this ride will leave you in awe of nature. The 2,860-mile drive takes you across the country and a variety of landscapes and weather conditions. As it’s such a long-distance, travelers often give themselves between two to three weeks to tackle this journey.
This route essentially takes drivers directly across the middle of the United States. You'll experience all the nature America has to offer from the Rocky Mountains to the Great Plains and the Utah desert.
Make sure to camp at the Great Basin National Park in Nevada to spend an evening stargazing.
Route 66 is known by many travel enthusiasts as the “classic American road trip” or “The Mother Road.” It was the first paved national highway to connect the Midwest to California. Running from Lake Michigan to Los Angeles, this trip is just under 4,000 miles of road to cover. If you’re a lover of small towns filled with mom and pop shops, this road trip is made for you.
The views from this trip are of flat, rolling land that seems to go on for miles and miles. The sunsets along the paved highway lead you into small towns with friendly people and home-cooked diner meals.
In total, this trip will take you through eight states. Most travelers will want to give themselves between two to four weeks to complete the journey at a leisurely pace.
Make a stop at the historic Ariston Cafe in Illinois for an authentic Route 66 experience. This cafe is one of the oldest establishments on Route 66, originally opened in 1929 by Greek immigrant Pete Adam. It remains true to its roots, serving hot coffee for weary travelers and delicious, filling meals.
Great River Road
The Mississippi River is quite possibly on every road trip bucket list for American travelers. For an unforgettable trip, the Great River Road takes you through 10 states and 3,000 miles following the massive river. Starting in Minnesota, travelers can take approximately ten days slowly driving hilly terrain to finish in New Orleans.
As a nature lover, we suggest you make a pit stop at one of the wildlife resorts on this route. For example, stop at the Theodore Roosevelt Refuge to view some of the protected animals like alligators, white-tailed deer, and wood ducks.
Make sure to give yourself at least a day in New Orleans to experience the jazz, the culture, and the food (gumbo, beignets, po-boys).
The Overseas Highway
The Overseas Highway, follows Route 1, from the Miami to Key West. This road trip is much shorter than the other ones mentioned on this list, spanning only 113 miles. You can drive the entire route in a day (totaling about four hours one way).
This unique trip will give you unbelievable views throughout the drive. It feels like you’re driving on top of the water as you pass palm trees, green-blue water, and exotic animals (dolphins and crocodiles). Make this trip last longer by making stops for diving in Key Largo or kayaking in Bahia Honda State Park.
For a truly thrilling experience, spend a night in America’s only underwater hotel: the Jules’ Undersea Lodge. This hotel is only an option for the scuba diving enthusiast as guests have to dive 25 feet underwater to check-in. It's an unbelievable experience where you can even have pizza delivered to your underwater room!
Whichever route you choose, a road trip is all that you make out it to be. Map out a route, pack your car full of snacks, and bust out the playlist. It's time to start checking some of these incredible road trips off your bucket list.