Published October 1, 2020 10/1/2020

Top 11 Scenic Byways in the United States

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There are countless scenic drives along highways, byways and routes throughout the entire United States. It’s extremely difficult to narrow this down to the absolute best, so we stuck to scenic byways alone. However, we dug a little deeper to mention some that don’t get enough attention, while also featuring some that may be a little more obvious. This will give you a nice diversity to help cultivate your future road trip bucket list. These are the top scenic byways in the United States.

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White Pass Scenic Byway - Washington White Pass
White Pass

White Pass Scenic Byway - Washington

A popular West Coast road trip, White Pass Scenic Byway trails through some of the most beautiful terrains of Washington. Grazing through the southern tip of Mount Rainier, the iconic road also goes through the Wenatchee National Forest. Expect epic mountain views, waterfalls, and endless meadows full of wildflowers in the summer. An abundance of turn-offs and overlooks pop up throughout the drive, so it’s easy to get off to the side to take in the surroundings. You’re also in luck if you love to fish.

Wichita Mountains Byway - Oklahoma Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

Wichita Mountains Byway - Oklahoma

Wichita Mountains Byway carves its way through some seriously old rocky terrain, full of history and striking formations. But one of the coolest parts about this drive is that it goes through a wildlife refuge, where an abundance of game is protected. Bison and elk are some of the larger animal drivers might see, along with wild turkeys. If there were ever a great reason to come to Oklahoma, this drive is it.

West Cascades Scenic Byway - Oregon oregon lake
oregon lake

West Cascades Scenic Byway - Oregon

West Cascades Scenic Byway displays Oregon’s most dramatic features, from ancient forests to gushing waterfalls. A popular road trip in summer, the saturated terrain is lush and picture-perfect, and travelers will also see bits and pieces of the old logging industry along the way. Of course, you will be traversing closely alongside famous rivers, which also offer different types of recreation. So you may want to stop for a few days.

Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway - Oregon and California Lassen
Lassen

Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway - Oregon and California

Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway goes through both Oregon and California. As you may have guessed, this drive weaves through old volcanoes that now serve as scenic peaks in both states. Both Crater Lake National Park and Lassen Volcanic National Park bucket list-worthy stops among this stretch. Prepare to allow extra time to this journey, as there are some really cute towns you may want to slow down to see.

Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byway - New Mexico Gila NF
Gila NF

Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byway - New Mexico

Traverse nearly 100 miles of the old west along Trail of the Mountain Spirits Scenic Byway. The name is a nod to past miners and dwellers who have since passed on. So much history including old mines and towns resides along the route. You’ll even see evidence of past Native American tribes. The byway is in a jaw-dropping, stark area of southwest New Mexico.

Sky Island Scenic Byway - Arizona Sonoran Desert
Sonoran Desert

Sky Island Scenic Byway - Arizona

Sky Island Scenic Byway begins in Arizona. First, travelers will get to traverse the Sonoran Desert, which is home to those iconic cacti that define this particular area. But the landscape changes drastically throughout a short distance. It’s so biologically diverse, you’ll feel like you have traversed a multitude of states within a few minutes. This is an extremely unique part of the country.

Schoodic Scenic Byway - Maine Schoodic
Schoodic

Schoodic Scenic Byway - Maine

Schoodic Scenic Byway is often not as traversed as the other side of Acadia National Park. If you don’t come over to the quieter side, a lot will be missed! There is far less traffic, and the coastal views are incomparable and totally serene. Watch the saltwater splash up onto the slick rocks, drive through a small lobstering town, and experience coastal Maine traditions.

Russell-Brasstown National Scenic Byway - Georgia Brasstown
Brasstown

Russell-Brasstown National Scenic Byway - Georgia

Russell-Brasstown National Scenic Byway resides in the mountains of beautiful Northern Georgia. The gently sloping mountains are part of the Appalachians, and you can even stop to hike part of the famed trail that goes all the way to Maine! Peer toward Tennessee and other states from the top of Brasstown Bald. The rustic feel of this Georgia drive is nothing short of heartwarming.

Red River Gorge Scenic Byway - Kentucky Red River Gorge Kentucky
Red River Gorge Kentucky

Red River Gorge Scenic Byway - Kentucky

Kentucky has natural scenery that rivals anywhere else in the United States. This couldn’t be more apparent along the Red River Gorge Scenic Byway. While it may be hard to imagine Kentucky as a geologically diverse area, it most definitely is! Caves, ravines, and unusual formations have dubbed this drive a National Natural Landmark, among other important titles.

Outer Banks Scenic Byway - North Carolina Outer Banks
Outer Banks

Outer Banks Scenic Byway - North Carolina

One of the coolest parts of North Carolina is the barrier islands that extend down to the Atlantic Ocean. Drive your car up onto a ferry, and make your way to the Outer Banks Scenic Byway. Far different than anywhere you’ve likely visited in the state, the drive is breathtaking and will take you past golden beaches and historic towns. It’s the perfect romantic road trip or just something that will make you feel like you are a world away.

George Park Highway Scenic Byway - Alaska Denali
Denali

George Park Highway Scenic Byway - Alaska

The George Park Highway Scenic Byway features the glory of Alaska. Not only will you be traversing areas that display old Alaskan culture, but you’ll also be passing by some of the most notable places in the state. For example, the byway traverses through Denali National Park, where some of the most amazing peaks and wildlife can be witnessed. Keep in mind, to go deeply into Denali, you’ll have to board an official park bus. At that point, you’ll probably be ready for someone else to take the wheel anyway.

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