America's Most Iconic Drives
Thomas A. Thompson
Classic Americana combined with great scenic drives make for can’t-miss road trips across the country.
ads love to show shiny vehicles cruising open highways under blue skies, with
mountains and beaches nearby. But when was the last time you took a drive like
that? For most of us, our cars are merely workhorses to haul us around town.
it’s easy to break out of the rut. Magnificent roads are never far—routes that
slice through forests, dance along the coastlines, and thread through mountain
passes. They’re scenic drives, yes, but they’re also classically American. And
once you find the right route, it’s easy to rediscover the exuberant freedom of
the open road.
first cars were by and large playthings for the rich and powerful—just picture
Jay Gatsby winding his yellow Rolls-Royce down the parkways of Long Island. But
at the same time, special scenic routes were constructed in what are still some
of the country’s most beautiful spots. When more Americans started driving, it
created a road-trip frenzy that lives on today.
of these roads are justifiably famous, including what’s arguably America’s most
scenic drive: California’s Route 1, around the town of Big Sur. Rocky cliffs
plunge down to open ocean, creating a severe distraction while you navigate
this narrow road.
roads may not be household names, but are nevertheless an integral part of the
American fabric. Highway 31, west of New Orleans, takes you through classic
Louisiana countryside, past lazy bayous and swampy lagoons filled with
alligators and herons.
some of these great American drives are still relatively new. Between Utah’s
Capitol Reef National Park and its Dr. Seuss–like Bryce Canyon, Highway 12 runs
past sandstone cliffs and a forest of deep green junipers. Yet this road was
simply a challenging four-wheel-drive track until the last stretch was opened in
1985. And the famous Blue Ridge Parkway, a project started in 1935, wasn’t
fully completed until 1983. That’s when the Linn Cove Viaduct, which snakes
around North Carolina’s Grandfather Mountain, was finished.
next time you find yourself stuck in rush-hour traffic, skip the road rage.
Instead, find the iconic American road closest to you and put yourself in that