Travel

8 best drives in the USA

On this crazy road trip circumnavigating North America, plus a minor detour that took me to Hawaii, I’ve done some amazingly beautiful drives. So as I hit the 8 month mark of this adventure, I wanted to share with you my 8 best drives in the USA thus far.

1. Leaving New Orleans

On my way out of New Orleans heading towards Texas I took the Interstate 10 out of the city and passed over the Atchafalaya Basin on a 18.2 mile long bridge that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. With swamp land to the right and the water to the left below you, on a beautiful sunny day it’s one of the coolest stretches of road I’ve seen.

2. Phoenix to San Diego

Continuing west from Phoenix, Arizona I took the Interstate 8 which comes within a half mile of the US Mexico border in some places Biosaam and covers a huge range of landscapes along the way. When you make it into California you soon come across the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area aka Glamis near the city of El Centro. I had to pull off the highway to get a better look at the people flying around on the dune buggies and if I had know about it earlier I would have found a way to get out there. At one point you hit the lowest point at 52 feet below sea level and then the route starts to climb up to 4000 feet rapidly through this unnaturally dark rocky mountains along Cleveland National Forrest. For some reason we saw a lot of helicopters in this region and I was convinced they were searching for a downed UFO or had spotted a Bigfoot.

3. Yosemite Valley

This drive was actually split over 3 days and hundreds of kilometers around Yosemite National Park. Starting of with the Yosemite valley from my hostel on Hwy 140 down into the valley, south from the valley to Mariposa Grove and north to Hetch Hetchy. With elevations ranging from 2000 feet to close to 6000 feet each day included a lot of ascending and descending while navigating crazy twists and turns often with unbelievable views of the valley below. I even got caught in a wicked little snow storm as I hit Mariposa Grove on the second day to see the Giant Sequoias. Needless to say driving around the park was not only incredibly beautiful but also a lot of fun as long as you’re not there in the height of the tourist season.

4. Big Sur, California

Big Sur covers about 90 miles of the Californian coast where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise from the Pacific with epic views of the coast. At the Cone Peak you ascend close to a mile over the ocean while twisting along the iconic California State Route 1. Along the way there are many national parks, beaches and waterfalls to stop at and admire plus a ton of lookout points for amazing photo opportunities and some wildlife watching if you’re there at the right time.

5. South Point

The furthest point south in the United States of American, Ka Lea, is a beautiful spot for a day drive with narrow roads heading down to the point passing beautiful rolling green pastures. Along the way you see windblown Shayaricollection trees that are growing at improbable angles, pastures of cows and horses all over the place and a beautifully decrepit wind farm. Arriving at the point you have a great view of the ocean all around you from 30-40 feet up and for the more daring you can launch yourself off in to the water below.

6. Saddle Road

On the Big Island of Hawaii the quickest way from Kona to Hilo is right across the middle of the island between Mauna Kea and Mauna Lua volcanos, this road is one of the scariest and most fun to drive. Heading out in my tiny rental car along the western end of the Saddle Road you wind around a curvy narrow country road flying over blind hills and crossing single lane bridges while making your way up to 6,632 feet with amazing views along the way.

 

7. Road to Hana

One of the more touristy drives on my list, this is a must do while in Maui. The road to Hana begins just after passing through the hippy town of Paia heading south on Hawaii State Route 36 you travel along 52 miles of narrow winding Aestheticsymbolslist roads over 50+ bridges surrounded by lush rain forrest and thrilling coastal views. I wrote extensively about this drive in a previous post and could go on for ages about it but instead of repeating myself check out the link below.

8. Flagstaff to Sedona, Arizona

This sits in the number one spot due to the mystic and magical feeling of the valley as you descend down Highway 89A south from Flagstaff into Sedona, your jaw is in your lap as you catch glimpses of the landscape while trying to focus on the hairpin turns in front of you. Cutting through Oak Creek Canyon the passengers are treated to some of the greatest views I’ve witnessed this far on my crazy road trip around North America and it’s no surprise to me it’s been rated one of the 5 most scenic drives in the United States.

Well I’m sure you noticed a common thread through my 8 best drives in the USA, with winding, twisting curvy roads that either ascend to great heights or descend or both. For me theres nothing better then flying around a hairpin turn being hit right in the face with another amazing view, with the windows down, the sun shining and some good music on the radio.

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