There are many scenic drives in the United States, but only a few are truly iconic. Some wind through dramatic mountain ranges, others along one coast or another. Some take you to or through national parks, monuments and seashores. Others are part of the U.S. Department of Transportation's grassroots America's Byways program. All will make your jaw drop. Here are seven unforgettable routes — our picks as the most iconic drives in the United States.
1. Florida Overseas Highway
Built in the 1930s and rebuilt in the '80s, the 127-mile segment of U.S. 1 from Key West to Miami, an official Florida Scenic Highway, offers many breathtaking water views. The engineering marvel that is Seven Mile Bridge just about spans the distance implied by its name — a world record when Henry Flagler financed its construction in the early 1900s — between the middle and lower Keys.
2. Blue Ridge Parkway
This 469-mile road from Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia is one of the South's most iconic drives. Highlights in Virginia include Rocky Knob and the Mabry Mill. In North Carolina, Mount Pisgah has a network of hiking trails and the historic Pisgah Inn.
3. San Juan Skyway and Million Dollar Highway
Cutting a route below numerous 14,000-foot peaks (aka "fourteeners") in Colorado's San Juan Mountains, this 233-mile loop takes you through three passes — all the while passing some of the most beautiful spots in the Rockies. From Durango, you head north through Molas Pass to Silverton. Then the stretch of U.S. 550 known as the Million Dollar Highway takes you through Red Mountain Pass to Ouray. From there, it's north to Ridgway and south to Telluride before heading over Lizard Head Pass to Dolores, Cortez and back to Durango.
4. Pacific Coast Highway
The serpentine California Highway 1, above and along the Pacific Ocean, is the Golden State's definitive drive. There are two stretches that are equally iconic: the 123-mile drive from Cambria to Monterey and the 140-mile chunk north of San Francisco, from Point Reyes National Seashore to Jenner and Mendocino, one of the West Coast's funkiest and most scenic towns.