road trip usa road trip usa

9 Best Ways for the Ultimate Road Trip USA

Did the week bore you out? Do you also want to leave the regular hustle and bustle of life and go on a road trip? Don’t worry we have got you.

You might have fantasized about going on a road trip with your friends and family. This is your shot at a road trip in the USA, an ideal place to explore natural and cultural heritage.

Hitting the road to the road is probably the best way to enjoy what the country offers. Because, unlike any other means, you won’t have to look out for the perfect time to reach your desired destination. Here, you can stop the car and take in the beautiful sunset or feel the gentle air breeze on the beach brushing through your hair.

This guide brings you the perfect destinations and road trip routes that you should keep an eye out for. From visiting renowned national parks to discovering small historic towns.

Best Routes To Road Trip

road trip usa
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Before deciding upon your itinerary, you first want to go through the best road trip routes that you can choose from road the USA. Road trip routes must be selected based on several factors, like what kind of outdoor adventure you are looking for or the type of destinations you want to explore.

If you want to see rolling hills, you should take another route, and if you’re going to breathe the sea air, you should take the coast drive. We’ll show you what every different route offers and the few things you should keep in mind before choosing to road trip USA.

1. Route 66: An Epic Road Trip

Approximated Distance: 2500 miles
route 66
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It would be a tragic tale if no one considered Route 66 as a way to road trip. It has the iconic “Mother Road” which happened to be the original route of the US Highway System, which starts in Chicago and ends in Santa Monica.

It covers eight states that come up to 2500 miles and is perfect for a cross-country road trip. The historic route has inspired movies, songs, and novels.

Covering 2400 miles, Route 66 extends over nine American states: California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois. This route serves its intended purpose only if one travels cross-country.

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This route is also filled with many historical landmarks. The best thing that you could do on the way is enjoy the gas stations that’ll give you a vintage feeling or the 1950s motels and restaurants that’ll take you back in time to the days of the Great American Trip.

The ideal way to explore the historical landmarks of Route 66 would be to start from Chicago and take a ride all the way to Santa Monica; however, there are many other ways to do it.

Some also do it the other way around, starting from the east instead. There simply exists no right way to take a trip on this route. The point is you should enjoy yourself no matter the way that you take.

It would be advisable to spend at least two weeks exploring this route because there’s a lot that this journey has to offer, so you might as well make the most out of it. There are many Abraham Lincoln sites on the route to explore in case you happen to be a historical person

There are many attractions that you can visit throughout your journey road trip USA, a few of the most prominent being:

Santa Fe in New Mexico

New Mexico’s capital Santa Fe is renowned for its Pueblo-style architecture. When in New Mexico, you must visit the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. This site has preserved Pueblo Indian Culture, History, and Art for years.

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

It is well known for its hiking trails, mule rides, and whitewater rafting. The Grand Canyon National Park also houses the famous Grand Canyon, known for its layered red rock formations that reveal a geological history worth millions of years.

2. New York to Los Angeles: A Drive on the USA Road

Approximated Distance: 3000 miles
new york
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The overall length of the driving would go up to 3000 miles. This route is one of the most classic American routes to road trip. Your journey is going to be quite an adventurous one on this route, taking you through many American states.

You should set out at least two weeks from your busy schedule for this road trip. The ideal journey should begin in New York City. You’ll come across many tourist traps on your way that would be unavoidable. It would be advisable to avoid spending a lot of your time on the highways.

The trip is a coast-to-coast one, and on your way, you’ll find a lot of variety in the tourist attractions. The route will take you through Chicago, the fields of Nebraska and Iowa, the staggering natural beauty of Colorado and Utah, and Las Vegas.

It is just a short drive through Las Vegas to see the shimmering Pacific Ocean on the California coast. Out of your car, and you’ll be staring at the shining sea.

pacific coast
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If you take a detour on the way, then you might be able to visit some of the most renowned National Parks on your way out. These will include the Zion National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Grand Canyon as well.
A few attractions that you can visit on your way would be:

Niagara Falls in New York

You might be wondering if these are the ones in Canada, but no New York has its own Niagara Falls. The scenic beauty of the graceful waterfalls, along with the forging mist, is mesmerizing to watch. The attraction also offers many hiking trails to follow.

Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

yellowstone national park
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The perfect time to visit America’s most iconic National Park would be in the morning. Yellowstone National Park is famous for its incredible geysers and beautiful hot springs beside the stunning plethora of wildlife it protects.

Yosemite National Park in California

It is one of the most wondrous places to stand and stare at a stellar view. This National Park is acclaimed for the giant old sequoia trees it has.

San Francisco in California

San Francisco is one of the most popular West Coast cities. The best places to visit while in San Francisco would be to go to the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. You could even find time to ride the city’s iconic cable cars.

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash /Copyright 2021

3. Blue Ridge Parkway

Approximated Distance: 469 miles
Blue ridge
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If exploring the western parts of North Carolina and Virginia, the mighty Blue Ridge Parkway is always lingering around by your side. It is one of the most popular road trips between the two states and connects two of America’s most popular national parks- Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains.

It is pretty short compared to the other routes, coming at a total of 469 miles. If you want to enjoy the entirety of the trip along with the hikes, then you must spend a week on the road.

Again, there are many destinations to explore on the way, but visiting all of them in the period would be a bit difficult and exhausting, so to keep your trip short and sweet one, here are a few iconic places you can visit.

Going north to south, you can visit the Humpback Rocks, the Mabry Mill, the Blue Ridge Music Center, and the Peaks of Otter. Beyond the border in North Carolina, it is a must to see Linville Falls, Graveyard Fields, Craggy Gardens, and Oconaluftee ending your trip.

4. Utah’s mighty five trip

Approximated Distance: 1200 miles
zion canyon
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Fierce red rocks lighten up the mighty landscapes of Utah during the sunset and sunrise with a vast array of beautiful colors. This trip can give you a mesmerizing experience with the joy of visiting several different national parks.

It’ll allow you to catch a glimpse of the scenic rock formations that enfold Utah. This trip could take ten days to complete with an average traveling distance of 1200 miles.

To start with, you should leave at Salt Lake City, and drive 4½ miles south towards the Zion National Park. Grab yourself a meal at Springdale, one of the small towns surrounding the south entrance to the park. Visit the National Park then.

Massive red rock cliffs flung over the running landscape. It is an untouched wonderland with gushing waterfalls, silent pools, and buzzing gardens carved by tributaries over the millenniums. It remains to be the most visited national park in the USA. Spend no more than two days exploring the Zion Canyon, then move on to Highway 9.

bryce canyon
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Spend the night at Bryce Canyon National Park to witness the glowing rocks at sunset or sunrise. Then head to the Kodachrome Basin State Park on the scenic Hwy 12. The Kodachrome Basin State Park is probably the best rock formation site to exude the most artistic colors.

After around two hours of hiking at the state park:

  1. Continue north of Hwy 12 until you reach the Capitol Reef National Park, which is an ideal place to see ancient dunes.
  2. Drive on to get Moab, a high-end desert city with vast biking, hiking, and rafting options.
  3. Think of spending around three days over here.
  4. After Moab, think of taking a ten-minute ride to the Arches National Park to get a glimpse of its pretty rock formations.

It’ll take you a rough of 40 minutes or something to drive to the Canyonlands National Park. While on a road trip, it is essential not to miss out on the sandstone spires at the Canyonlands National Park. And after a 230-mile ride, you’ll be back to square one at Salt Lake City.

5. The Fall Foliage Drive in New England along the Kancamagus Highway

Approximated Distance: 34 miles
kancagamus highway
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This road trip in New England is unlike the others. The best time to witness its serene beauty would be during the fall, as the radiant colors of the trees can be witnessed only during fall.

The Kancamagus Highway in New England, unofficially known as “Kanc,” is recognized for its hiking trails, scenic views, and ponds. It is a popular destination for fall foliage leaf-peepers. 

6. Miami to Key West Road Trip Through The Florida Keys

Approximated Distance: 165 miles
florida keys
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In case you’re looking forward to a tropical road trip, driving from Miami to Key West is the best choice. On the way, you’ll travel through the archipelago of the Florida Keys on the Overseas Highway. A drive on the Overseas Highway is claimed to be one of the best road trips in the country.

The length of the ride isn’t too much, but a little about 165 miles, the scenic beauty observed throughout the road trip makes it a worthwhile getaway. The road trip is filled with exciting and interesting things to do. 

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and Spiegel Grove hip wreck are two fantastic destinations to explore underwater surfaces like coral reefs, a sunken Navy ship, and marine life. A cruise on The Africa Queen through the canals of the Key Largo would make it ideal for an over-the-water exploration.

7. The Texas Hill Country

Approximated Distance: 189 miles

Inside the central part of the Lone Star State, west of Austin and San Antonio, the Texas hill country road is the definition of scenic perfection.

The Texas Hill Country is famous for its charming small towns, the incredible hiking trails, the mesmerizing waterfalls, the Texas barbecue, its amazing wildflowers. It has more wineries and distilleries than you could even count.

You could visit the town of Fredericksburg, which is known for its German heritage. Enjoy a wine tasting, explore Wimberley, climb Enchanted Rock, explore the limestone caves, sample a barbecue, and do visit the best swimming holes near Austin, including the Hamilton Pool and Jacob’s Well.

You can also visit a few state parks like Colorado Bend State Park, Garner State Park, and Guadalupe River State Park. The lakes over here are also pretty iconic, like Lake Travis or Canyon Lake, for that matter.

You can even visit the Big Bend National Park, which houses the Chisos mountain ranges and the Chihuahuan Desert. It is also home to a variety of desert life, and the presence of the mountains make them the ideal scenic place to get a glimpse of.

A day would be enough to drive down this lane, but a week would be more fun to explore the Texas Hill Country to road trip.

8. Big Sur to Mono County: An Epic California Road Trip Through Northern California

Approximated Distance: 511 miles

This road trip requires you to put your book down only to discover more about what you left. It has some ideal places that shaped America’s greatest authors. Following along the trail, Maya Angelou, Amy Tan, and Jack Kerouac left behind; this is a must trip to take if you have been in love with literature.

This trip will take you through some classical literary landmarks in Great Northern California, like Caffe Trieste in San Francisco, which was a meeting place for Allen Ginsberg, Alan Watts, Jack Kerouac, and other bohemian writers and thinkers.

A few places that you can probably visit are the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, Cannery Row in Monterey, City Lights Bookstore, which is a bookstore that still has creaky wooden floors as in the old days.

mono lake
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In Mono County, you can visit Mono Lake, which Mark Twain once described as a lifeless, treeless, hideous desert -the loneliest place on earth. The water in the lake is extremely salty and glistening.

9. Southwest Colorado Road Trip

Approximated Distance: 684 miles
Maroon bells, Colorado
Photo by Mike Scheid on Unsplash /Copyright 2021

During summer, you can explore Southwest Colorado for a splendid way to USA through the mountains, giving the nod to the Alps.

The highlights of the Colorado trips include diverse and fun outdoor activities at the Pagosa Springs, Durango, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Mesa Verde National Park Telluride, Ridgway, Ouray, Buena Vista, and Black Canyon.

It would make an epic Southwest Colorado Trip if you made time for ten days. However, if you choose to take your time and explore all the adventures slowly at your pace, making the most out of your road trip, you can take longer, around fourteen days, to dive through these mountain ranges.

Things that must be kept in mind

The time you need

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An ideal duration to road trip could range from anywhere between 3 -15 days depending upon the route and time you’re spending on the trip. This probably means that you’ll have to spend at least 8 hours behind the car wheel every day.

But don’t worry, you can manage this time efficiently if you go along with a group of family or friends.

Should you take your own car or choose a rental car?

You might think that taking your car for a road trip will be way cheaper than renting a car. But that may not be the case when you weigh different factors:

Car Insurance: For rental car insurance, the insurance company will provide road assistance if anything goes wrong with your car midway. If you end up damaging the car, then the amount will be deducted from the insured amount, and there won’t be any extra charges, but if you go for your personal vehicle, then the claim could cost you money.

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Gas Mileage: The mileage of the rented car would possibly be more than your own car and can save you a significant amount on every gallon of gas on your way.

Depreciation Value: With every mile that your car travels, a certain amount of wear and tear occurs, no matter how hard you try to deny the fact or take care of your car. So, probably by the time you have traveled from the West Coast to East Coast, the wheels of your tire might have worn out. And you will have to incur the repairing and servicing charges and not the company.

So, it is always beneficial and hassle-free to drive on a rented car.

How long would it take to road trip all 50 states?

50 states
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Well, it totally depends on how slow or fast you want to take it. Practically, it won’t be like any of the weekend or two-week-long trips that we talked about. It would take a lot of your time and patience to do that, provided you have the resources as well to do that.

If you want to just take a drive through all the states, then it can take you around ten days without any traffic on your way. But, if you want to soak in the essence of every state and the attractions it has to offer, then it could take you around 15-20 years if you take a road trip thrice a year. The duration entirely depends on the one who’s making the road trip.

The next great American road trip

So, whenever you decide to plan your next adventure on the American road trip, keep this article handy to check through all your options and essential details. The means to road trips are pretty simple and easy, and one does not have to do a lot of pre-planning to get it done. You can maybe plan it a week before in hand.

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Last Updated on December 1, 2023 by ritukhare


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