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9 Fun Road Trips Where The Journey Is More Scenic Than The Destination

Road trips offer a unique way to explore the vast and diverse landscapes of the United States. While the destination is often the main focus, some journeys are so breathtaking that they become the highlight of the trip. In this article, we’ll explore nine road trips where the journey itself is more scenic and memorable than the destination.

The Hana Highway, Hawaii

The Hana Highway, also known as the Road to Hana, is a 64.4-mile stretch of Hawaii Routes 36 and 360 that takes you from Kahului to the tranquil town of Hana. This iconic drive is famous for its stunning coastal views, lush rainforests, and numerous waterfalls. As you navigate the 620 curves and 59 bridges, you’ll be treated to sights like the Twin Falls, the Garden of Eden Arboretum, and the black sand beaches of Waianapanapa State Park. This drive is a true feast for the senses, with vibrant greenery and the soothing sounds of cascading water.

US Route 163, Arizona & Utah

Stretching through the heart of the Navajo Nation, U.S. Route 163 offers one of the most iconic drives in the United States. This route is famously known as the “Forrest Gump” road due to its appearance in the film. The highway runs from Kayenta, Arizona, to Bluff, Utah, and offers stunning views of Monument Valley’s towering buttes and mesas. Along the way, you can explore landmarks such as the Mexican Hat rock formation and the Valley of the Gods. The dramatic desert landscape, with its rich red hues and endless skies, provides a captivating backdrop for your journey.

Columbia River Highway, Oregon

The Columbia River Highway, officially known as the Historic Columbia River Highway, is a 74-mile scenic route that stretches from Troutdale to The Dalles in Oregon. As the first scenic highway in the United States, it offers breathtaking views of the Columbia River Gorge, complete with cascading waterfalls, lush forests, and panoramic vistas. Key attractions along this route include Multnomah Falls, the Vista House at Crown Point, and the Bridge of the Gods. This historic road, with its charming stonework and picturesque viewpoints, is a journey back in time and a nature lover’s paradise.

California Coast Road Trip

The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), also known as California State Route 1, is one of the most iconic road trips in the world. This route runs along the California coastline from Dana Point in the south to Leggett in the north, offering unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean. Highlights of this drive include the stunning cliffs of Big Sur, the charming towns of Carmel and Monterey, and the historic Hearst Castle. The PCH is a testament to the natural beauty of California, with its rugged coastline, pristine beaches, and scenic overlooks that make every mile a visual delight.

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Wisconsin Road Trip

Wisconsin might not be the first place that comes to mind when planning a scenic road trip, but this Midwestern state offers a surprising array of beautiful landscapes. A drive through Wisconsin’s rolling countryside reveals sweeping fields, picturesque farms, and charming small towns. The Great River Road, which follows the Mississippi River, is particularly stunning, offering views of bluffs, wetlands, and wildlife. Along the way, you can stop at quaint river towns like La Crosse and Prairie du Chien, and enjoy the local culture and hospitality. This road trip is a peaceful escape into the heartland of America.

South Walton, Florida Road Trip

South Walton, located along the Emerald Coast in Florida, is a hidden gem for road trippers. The area boasts 26 miles of sugar-white sand beaches and clear turquoise waters. A drive along Scenic Highway 30A takes you through charming beach communities like Seaside, WaterColor, and Rosemary Beach. Each town has its own unique character, with boutique shops, cozy cafes, and beautiful beachfront homes. The warm, sandy beaches and abundant wildlife make this a perfect destination for a relaxing and scenic road trip.

Tennessee Road Trip

For those who love natural beauty, a road trip through Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must. This park is the most visited national park in the United States, and for good reason. The drive along Newfound Gap Road offers stunning views of mist-covered mountains, dense forests, and vibrant wildflowers. Key stops include Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park, and Cades Cove, a picturesque valley known for its historic buildings and abundant wildlife. This road trip is a journey through one of America’s most cherished natural landscapes.

New Mexico’s Route 66 Road Trip

Route 66, known as the “Main Street of America,” is perhaps the most famous road trip route in the United States. The New Mexico segment of this historic highway offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural landmarks. Starting in Tucumcari and ending in Gallup, this stretch of Route 66 takes you through scenic deserts, colorful rock formations, and charming towns. Highlights include the Blue Swallow Motel, the Petrified Forest National Park, and the vibrant city of Albuquerque. This road trip is a nostalgic journey through the heart of the American Southwest.

Indiana Road Trip

Indiana may not be known for its scenic drives, but it has some hidden gems worth exploring. A road trip through Indiana can take you to quaint towns like Milan, Warsaw, and Oldenburg, each with its own unique charm. The Indiana countryside offers rolling hills, picturesque farmland, and historic landmarks. The Heritage Trail, which loops through Elkhart County, is particularly scenic, with its Amish communities, covered bridges, and vibrant quilt gardens. This road trip is a delightful exploration of Indiana’s cultural and natural beauty.

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