There are scenic roads all over the world. The Amalfi Coast in southern Italy is spectacular as is the Blue Road in Sweden. However, in these days of restricted international travel, we will concentrate on the equally gorgeous scenic byways of the USA.
Beginning with the west coast, there is the incomparable Highway One, also known as The Pacific Coast Highway, which runs from San Diego County on the south end to Mendocino County on the north end. The most spectacular viewing spots along the way are in Pebble Beach and the Big Sur.
The 17-Mile-Drive, Pebble Beach
This road is one of the worlds’ most famous and for good reason. It runs through the exclusive gated community of Pebble Beach, home to the equally famous Pebble Beach Golf Course.
When you pay the entry fee ($10.50) at the gates, you will be given a map. If you follow it, you cannot help to embark on one of the finest, most scenic drives anywhere. The map shows about 20 stops on the clearly drawn route. There is parking at each stop so you can get out of the car to take full advantage of exquisite vistas.
Places such as the Lone Cypress Tree, Seal Rock and Spanish Bay are not to be missed. You not only get the visuals at each stop but also the sounds and smells that surround you. Let your imagination take over and enjoy a mini-vacation in your mind.
Big Sur, Highway One
Big Sur is quite possibly the best part of the Pacific Coast Highway. The drive runs for 85 miles along some of the best scenery in the country. There are viewpoints, campgrounds and restaurants with not only exceptional food but exquisite views of the ocean as well.
Limekiln State Park sits among Monterrey County’s oldest redwood groves. This is also the steepest coastal canyon in the US. There are hiking trails that allow beach access and kilns from the 1880’s when limestone was actually quarried and smelted there.
No visit to the area would be complete without a visit to Hearst Castle, former home to William Randolph Hearst, the consummate newspaper czar. The furnishings, decor and art pieces both inside and outside the castle were collected and imported from all corners of the world to satisfy both the owners artistic sensibilities and reinforce his status as one of the most powerful men in the country.
The castle boasts 165 rooms on 127 acres with patios, pools and exceptional examples of outdoor sculpture. Hearst also collected exotic and indigenous animals to roam the estate as a private zoo.
Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
The Columbia River Gorge is the largest national scenic area in the country. It snakes through rain forests, deserts, seal level vistas, buttes and alpine meadows. There are many cultural activities along the way for those who want to take a break from the incredible scenery. Plus, it is a historical area with lava flows from millions of years ago. However, the gorge has more recently been carved by tremendous icy flooding from the last glacial period.
Indigenous Americans have lived in the gorge for at least 10,000 years before Europeans “discovered” the fascinating geological formations.
The famous and courageous duo, Lewis and Clark came through the Gorge which inspired the westward expansion by equally courageous Oregon Trail pioneers.
Highway 12 in Southern Utah
This is a standout of many incredible drives in the state of Utah. Highway SR-12 runs 122 miles east from Panguitch through Dixie National Forest, Bryce Canyon National Park on to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Along the way, you will view rivers, sandstone bluffs, forests and tunnels that were cut through mountains. Bryce Canyon National Park alone is worth the drive with its otherworldly rock and earth formations in vibrant colors not likely to be seen anywhere else.
If you are on the road in southern Utah or on any road nearby and lock yourself out of your vehicle, do not panic. Contact the most reliable locksmith in the vicinity and be on that gorgeous road again in no time.
Natchez Trace Parkway
The Natchez trace is a roadway that will take you 444 miles through three states, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee. It is a historic travel route used by American Indians, European settlers, slave traders, soldiers and presidents-to-be.
The Trace is unique in its natural beauty, low motor vehicle traffic and abundant wildlife. It was thoughtfully designed to maintain the calming effect of serene naturalness. The scenery is to be enjoyed and quietly explored by bike, foot or horse, as well as by car.
There are many different trails and waterfalls to observe no matter which mode of travel you prefer. There are campsites available for hikers and bikers to rest themselves in between their travels to the next day’s exploration of this scenic, natural wonder.
These are just a few of the many scenic roads to be found in the United States. Make your next destination a road to travel instead of a destination at the end of the road. You will find it to be one of the most relaxing, refreshing and fascinating vacations, you will ever take.