There’s nothing quite like taking your car out for an exhilarating spin. That’s where your hunt for the best driving roads in America begins. Luckily, from California to New Hampshire, there are plenty of winding roads sprinkled throughout the country.
Take a break from driving on your ordinary freeway and test drive your car on exciting bends, steep elevations and scenic routes. With must-see views of the ocean, mountains or desert, there’s a road out there for every car lover who craves adventure.
These stops highlight the wide spectrum of landscapes in the country — there’s no better way to see America than from the road! If you find yourself driving cross country or on the interstate, make sure to rent a car as you plan your next adventure to these 23 best driving roads in America.
1. Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia & North Carolina
- Route: Rockfish Gap to Smoky Mountains Park
- Length: 469 miles
Blue Ridge Parkway is a major road that connects two national parks — Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains. Drive along this multi-day trip and check out the small towns and plentiful wildlife along the way. There are great hiking trails nearby, so take advantage of this great opportunity to breathe in the crisp mountain air.
Pro tip: Check the forecast — thick fog can blanket parts of the road.
2. White Bird Grade, Idaho
Photo credit: Paul de Anguera, Wikimedia Creative Commons
- Route: White Bird to Grangeville
- Length: 7 miles
Take the road less traveled on White Bird Grade, a section of the Old Highway 95 in northern Idaho. This route takes you through the American Rockies and the Nez Perce Clearwater National Forest.
Also known as the Spiral Highway, drivers get to experience its switchback design and 64 curves. This old road climbs 2,900 feet in only 14 miles, making it an exciting ride and one of the best driving roads in America.
Pro tip: Stop at the White Bird Hill Summit along the way.
3. The Million Dollar Highway, Colorado
- Route: Silverton to Ouray
- Length: 25 miles
The Million Dollar Highway is a portion of the road within the San Juan Skyway that highlights the beauty of Southwest Colorado. Drivers that take this route are able to take in the snowy mountain views as the road snakes around exposed cliff walls of the Red Mountain Pass summit.
Use caution while enjoying the scenery — there are no shoulders or guardrails on these sharp hairpin turns that lead to steep drop-offs. Legend has it that the dirt to build the road contains a million dollars in gold.
Pro tip: This road does not have any guardrails, so be careful on turns.
4. Route 100, Vermont
- Route: Stamford to Newport
- Length: 216 miles
Route 100 in Vermont travels almost the entire length of the state and is also the longest numbered highway in the state. This route serves as the main thoroughfare for Vermont’s best ski resorts and passes through charming New England villages — it’s known as one of the most scenic drives in the region.
Its proximity to the Green Mountains makes it a perfect foliage drive in the fall and is also great during the summer as there are many recreational sites nearby.
Pro tip: Make a stop at the original Ben & Jerry’s for some ice cream.
5. Tail of the Dragon, Tennessee
- Route: Deals Gap to Chilhowee Lake
- Length: 11 miles
This driving road is sure to leave you a little sweaty. Packed with 318 turns in only 11 miles, Tail of the Dragon is not for the faint of heart or those who get dizzy. This route is considered one of the most exciting drives in America as it cuts through the mountains in Deals Gap and borders the Smoky Mountains and Cherokee National Forest.
Twists, blind turns and thick forest make sightseeing a challenge while driving, however, there are many areas to pull out and enjoy the scenery. Car lovers appreciate this road for its exhilarating nature, but it’s important to proceed with caution.
Pro tip: Avoid this road during the rainy spring season.
6. Route 9W, New York
- Route: Fort Lee, New Jersey, to Albany, New York
- Length: 141 miles
Take a break from the busy scene of New York and take a drive on Route 9W. Just an hour north of Manhattan, this road travels parallel to the Hudson River. This route takes you through the Bear Mountain State Park where there are many exciting curves and scenic views. Steer off onto Route 218 to get a scenic glimpse of Storm King Mountain.
Pro tip: Take a walk at the Tallman Mountain State Park.
7. Chuckanut Drive, Washington
- Route: Burlington to Bellingham
- Length: 21 miles
Chuckanut Drive is a scenic byway that’s often referred to as the Big Sur of Washington, easily adding itself to the list of best driving roads in America. This curvy road travels along sandstone cliffs of the Chuckanut Mountains towards Bellingham, Washington. This byway is so popular that it has been used as a location for Ferrari and Porsche commercials!
Take in views of the San Juan Islands and the rural fields of the Skagit County farmlands. Be sure to also stop at one of the many small towns along the way, like Fairhaven.
Pro tip: Share the road — this is a popular path for bicyclists.
8. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana
- Route: St. Mary to West Glacier
- Length: 50 miles
Going-to-the-Sun Road is a two-lane road that divides Glacier National Park and travels through the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. Originally designed for 1920s cars, this winding route sits at about 7,000 feet and offers scenic views of the park’s terrain. Due to its freezing potential, drivers can only visit this route during summer and fall.
Pro tip: This road is only open from May to October.
9. Hells Canyon Road, Oregon
- Route: Oxbow to Hells Canyon Dam
- Length: 44 miles
Enjoy panoramic views of the Oregon mountains on Hells Canyon Road. This scenic drive takes you along the Snake River for 22 miles all the way to Hells Canyon Dam. Your car will hug jagged walls as you take in the views of Hells Canyon which is the deepest river gorge in the country! This road is roughly a three-hour trip complete with two winding lanes and steep grades. It’s also okay to drive on year-round.
Pro tip: Plan ahead — there aren’t many gas stations nearby.
10. M119, Michigan
- Route: Harbor Springs to Cross Village
- Length: 27 miles
Also known as the Tunnel of Trees, the narrow road of M119 is named for the evergreen and hardwood trees that serve as a green ceiling for drivers passing through. This road offers some of the best forest views while you travel peacefully on the curvy two-lane path.
Drive over its hills as you pass by the high bluffs of Lake Michigan’s shoreline. Be sure to stop by during the fall to see the vibrant colors of the leaves!
Pro tip: Stretch your legs and hike around the forest.
11. Saddle Road, Hawaii
- Route: Hilo to Waimea
- Length: 24 miles
Buckle up for this bumpy ride. Saddle Road, also known as Route 200, traverses across the Big Island of Hawaii from east to west and lies between the mountains of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. This road used to be considered one of the most dangerous due to its one-lane bridges and poorly maintained spots — however, it still makes the list as one of the best driving roads in America.
Be sure to pay attention to the dried lava flows from the volcanic formations and lush rainforests as you drive through. Heavy mist is also reported in some parts of the road, so check the forecast before you hit the road!
Pro tip: This road is very remote with few facilities nearby.
12. Mulholland Highway, California
- Route: Hollywood to Malibu
- Length: 50 miles
Not to be mistaken with Mulholland Drive, Mulholland Highway is a scenic and rural road located in Los Angeles County and is considered one of the riskiest roads to drive in California.
A playground for gearheads, this road is complete with plenty of switchbacks and packed with challenging curves. Beware of the portion of the road called “The Snake” — it’s notorious for its sharp hairpin turns that have caused many accidents.
Pro tip: Racing is prohibited on this road.
13. Independence Pass, Colorado
- Route: Twin Lakes to Aspen
- Length: 37 miles
Also known as Route 82, Independence Pass takes you on a breathtaking drive through the Colorado Rockies. Since this road is shut down in the winter because of heavy snowfall, it makes for a perfect summertime cruise.
Take in the ocean of evergreen trees as you climb the elevation next to the Roaring Fork River. This road is very steep, narrow and twisty — you’ll most likely be white-knuckling the whole way through!
Pro tip: This road is closed October through May.
14. Twisted Sisters, Texas
- Route: Medina to Vanderpool
- Length: 100 miles
There’s a reason why they call these roads twisted. Car lovers come from all over to visit the Twisted Sisters roads west of Austin and northeast of San Antonio. This twisty route is a combination of three Hill Country Ranch roads (Ranch Road 335, 336, 337).
With over 200 turns, this road is coined the “windiest road in Texas” — in fact, there are over 65 turns in just the first 15 miles. Keep your eyes peeled for river views as you scale the steep hills.
Pro tip: Stop by the Devil’s Sinkhole before you embark on your trip.
15. Hocking Hills Loop, Ohio
- Route: State Route 374 to US 33.
- Length: 26 miles
Hocking Hills is Ohio’s most scenic road and is considered to not only be one of the best driving roads in America, but also a top contender in the world. Located in the lush hills of the state’s southeast region, this rollercoaster of a road has so many challenging twists and turns that auto manufacturers come here to test drive cars, like the 2014 Aston Martin.
This road is also home to many events that draw in many car lovers from the Midwest, such as the 2nd Annual Cruise Hocking Car Show & Street Party.
Pro tip: Be sure to visit this road during the fall for postcard-worthy photos.
16. Overseas Highway, Florida
- Route: Miami to Key West
- Length: 113 miles
Take a break from the mountains on this road. The Overseas Highway, also known as US-1, was originally used as a railway in the 1930s and is possibly one of the most scenic roads you will have the pleasure of driving on.
Although there are no twists or turns, this road connects Miami and Key West with a series of 42 bridges over the Atlantic ocean. This four-hour trip is perfect for car lovers who love a good ocean view.
Pro tip: Take a detour to Bahia Hona State Park to snorkel.
17. Angeles Crest, California
- Route: La Cañada – Flintridge to State Highway 138
- Length: 66 miles
Angeles Crest is a two-lane highway located in Los Angeles and takes you through the San Gabriel Mountains and Angeles National Forest. Drivers get to experience being above the clouds on this rainbow road as it rises to 7,000 feet of elevation in some areas. Angeles Crest requires some extra caution — be mindful of the very tight turns, rugged terrain and landslides that can make your drive dangerous.
Pro tip: Grab a bite to eat at a food truck in nearby Los Angeles
18. Cherohala Skyway, Tennessee
- Route: Tellico Plains, Tennessee to Robbinsville, North Carolina
- Length: 43 miles
Drivers taking Cherohala Skyway enjoy the road’s hundred-million-dollar views (North Carolina’s most expensive scenic highway) and big sweeping turns. This road, also known as the Mile High Legend, takes you from Tennessee to North Carolina with vast mountain and forest views. Take the time to soak up the views as you cross the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests — this is how Cherohala got its name!
Pro tip: This road is extremely dangerous in the winter.
19. Byway 12, Utah
- Route: Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef National Park
- Length: 124 miles
Talk about a road that’s underestimated — connect with the land on a road that takes you through three hours of gorgeous scenery. Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 makes the list as one of the best driving roads in America. Constructed in 1914, this route highlights the beauty of the state’s red rock deserts and rocky flats topography. This All-American Road is perfect for drivers that want to take the opportunity to drive a whirlwind road through state parks and national monuments.
Pro tip: Take a detour to the Escalante Petrified Forest
20. Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi
- Route: Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee
- Length: 444 miles
At 444 miles, Natchez Trace Parkway, also known as Old Natchez Trace, is a drive-through 10,000 years of history. This route follows a historic travel corridor that was once used by the Kaintuck Native American tribe, slave traders, soldiers, European settlers and US presidents.
Car lovers can drive through traditional southern scenery under patches of Oak trees covered with Spanish moss and see waterfalls and swamps. Take the opportunity to also stop by a scenic trail and walk around the site.
Pro tip: Watch the speed limit — it’s only 50 mph on this road.
21. Kancamagus Highway, New Hampshire
- Route: Conway to North Woodstock
- Length: 27 miles
Watch out for the moose! Kancamagus Highway, a portion of Route 112, is a quick and beautiful drive that winds through the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Sitting at an elevation of three thousand feet, this route does not fall short of scenic sights and is complete with many turn-offs so you can appreciate the views. Be sure to take this drive during the fall seasons to check out the colorful foliage.
Pro tip: Avoid summer crowds if you want a peaceful driving experience.
22. Farm Road 170, Texas
- Route: Presidio to Terlingua
- Length: 114 miles
Take a drive through the wild wild west on the lonesome Farm Road 170, or FM 170 — this route has the steepest paved grade in all of Texas. Locally known as the River Road, this magical journey takes you along the Rio Grande and sits very close to the border of Mexico.
Take in the scenery of the blue skies and desert mountains as you zip around its curves. This area gets very hot — so make sure your A/C is working!
Pro tip: Make a stop at Big Bend Ranch State Park.
23. Highway 1, California
- Route: Northern to Southern California
- Length: 656 miles
Stretching from north to south, Highway 1 in California is the longest state route in all of California and is no stranger to beautiful views. More specifically, the 90-mile part of the route passing through Big Sur takes the cake as a top driving road for car lovers. This part of the road snakes along the coast of Big Sur and connects Monterey and San Luis Obispo. Offering scenic seascapes, this route lets drivers soak in its dreamlike beauty.
Pro tip: Plan to drive early or late in the day to avoid traffic.
These roads are perfect for any car lover who’s looking for a thrilling ride. If you’re looking to test drive the best driving roads in America, renting a car will make it easier to explore destinations like these.