Tips & Picks

Top 5 Most Scenic Highways in the US

Editors Note: Many retirees dream about taking road trips in their retirement. To help get you started on your dream, we hope you enjoy this article contributed by Carol and Phil White, authors of “Live Your Road Trip Dream”.

Now here is a subject that is open to lots of controversy. Anyone attempting to put “a stake in the ground” on this subject must be really brave – or incredibly stupid. You may see some bias here – four of the five are in the west, and four of the five run at least partially along water, and two, are Interstate highways – the nemesis of civil travel; so you may already disagree without even looking at the list.

Everyone has their one or two favorite highways, but after traveling over 50,000 miles in the contiguous 48-states, this is our consensus of “the best of the best.” See if you agree.

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Interstate-84, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon (80 miles)

It is hard to imagine that an interstate highway runs through this magnificent stretch of scenery that was only recently designated a National Scenic Area. The gorge is the only cut through the Cascade Mountains near sea level and the gorge varies in depth up to 4,000 feet. It forms part of the state line between the states of Oregon and Washington and features waterfalls (Multnomah Falls), scenic view points (Crown Point), Cascade Peaks (notably Mt. Hood), and the mighty Columbia River. http://www.gonorthwest.com/Oregon/columbia/Columbia_River.htm

 

Going to the Sun Highway, Glacier Park, Montana (51 miles)

There are many engineering marvels throughout the US highways, but none rivals “the Garden Wall” climb from Apgar, MT at Lake McDonald to the Continental Divide at the top of Logan Pass.

 

Grinnell Point

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The highway took eleven years to build and was completed in 1932. In fact, if your vehicle is over 20 feet (including bumpers – they are very exact) or over 8 feet wide (including mirrors), you won’t be driving that portion of the highway. The scenery is unparalleled everywhere you look, and the wildlife is still abundant.
http://visitmt.com/tripplanner/wheretogo/ glacier.htm

 
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Interstate 70, Salina to Green River, Utah (100 miles)

Now the first thing some of you will say is, “why not keep going?” and yes, the section from Green River through the Glenwood Canyon to Vail – and beyond – is also eye-popping, but you’ve got to stop somewhere on this marvelous highway. The section chosen winds through the red rock country, skimming the edge of several national parks, and provides the highway traveler with turn after turn of vistas that are like watching a movie.
http://www.rockymountainroads.com/i-070b_ut.html

 

Highway 1, “The Overseas Highway”, “The Keys,”Florida (120 miles)

Where life still moves slowly on a two-lane road with 42 bridges and the bluest water in the states, the Florida Keys are the closest thing we have to the Caribbean. The Keys are composed of five areas, each boasting its own unique contribution to the area: Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Lower Keys, and finally Key West. Only in Key West do they celebrate sunset every night with a party at the dock, and the sound of steel drums permeates the air. Here, everything having to do with water is available. Whether it is fishing, snorkeling/diving, kayaking, or simply bobbing around in the water, you’ll find what you want.
http://www.fla-keys.com/

 

Highway 1, Pacific Coast Highway, California (a little over 100 miles)

Don’t let the distance deceive you – this is a three hour-plus trip. Unless you have no fear of heights, start in the south and go north – from Morro Bay to Carmel. Stop frequently to gawk. Feel the ocean wind and spray in your face. See the most incredible views this country has to offer. If you get tired of the outdoor beauty, stop at the Hearst Castle and take in the man-made beauty that William Randolph Hearst imported mostly from Europe for his castle by the sea. Gas up and grab some snacks before you leave, both are scarce along the way, but be sure to save room for lunch or dinner once you reach Big Sur or Carmel. Both have excellent choices and incomparable local ambiance.
http://www.byways.org/browse/byways/2301/index.html

So there you have it – the experience of seasoned road warriors. One of the great things about road trips is the opportunity to explore new roads and towns, go places you’ve often been intrigued by in the Sunday papr. Sometime in your life, you have to find time to take a really long road trip. Thousands of miles, months of time; there is nothing like it. Only then will you truly experience being a kid again. We’ll await your list.

Carol White is the co-author, along with her husband Phil, of the award-winning book, “Live Your Road Trip Dream – Travel for a year for the cost of staying home” (www.roadtripdream.com). When they retired, they decided to take off for a year and see this great country – one of their long-held dreams. When they returned, they decided to write a book to encourage other boomers to go live their road trip dreams. Little did they know that publishing a book would lead to a whole new phase of their lives including public speaking, websites, radio & TV interviews and more. Their blog can be found at Road Trip Dreams.


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