En español | It's the season to roll down car windows and hit the open road. Nine spectacular routes — from the Atlantic over the Rockies to the Pacific — offer unforgettable summertime drives.
1. Trail Ridge Road, Colorado
Cresting to an elevation of 12,183 feet above sea level in Rocky Mountain National Park, this is the highest continuous paved road in North America. Up top, you are well above the timberline in the alpine tundra. Be sure to stop at Rock Cut to explore this unique ecosystem. On the way up and down, there are countless overlooks with stunning views of the park's 17 peaks, all of which tower above 13,000 feet.
2. Generals Highway, California
Take the Generals Highway from the low-lying town of Three Rivers into the high country of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. The hairpin switchbacks on the drive up are well worth the reward of a walk through the forest here, where the trees named after Civil War generals are the star attractions. Don't miss General Sherman, the largest tree (by volume) on the planet.
3. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana
Few drives in the Rockies compare to this spectacular 50-mile, two-lane road, which cuts through Glacier National Park and takes you up and over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. Here you can catch the trailhead for the popular Hidden Lake Overlook Trail, which can be snowy even in summer. The high-altitude road passes glacial lakes and snow-capped peaks, and drivers often spot mountain goats.
4. Tioga Road, California
Take the high road from Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne Meadows, a hiker's paradise that has the vistas and iconic granite formations of Yosemite Valley but without the crowds. Lace up your boots for a walk in the woods; Cathedral Lakes Trail is a favorite. Afterward, Tioga Road ends at Lee Vining, home of the otherworldly Mono Lake.
5. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina/Virginia
The legendary Blue Ridge Parkway is the can't-miss scenic drive of the Southeast, covering the 469 miles between the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Park. Among the highlights: Rocky Knob, Mount Pisgah and the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, Virginia.
6. Overseas Highway, Florida
U.S. Route 1 takes you 127.5 miles from the southern tip of Florida to the end of the road — and the land — at Key West. On the way, you'll cross the aptly named Seven Mile Bridge, spanning Knight's Key in the Middle Keys to Little Duck Key in the Lower Keys.
7. Route 100, Vermont
In winter, it's known as the Skier's Highway, accessing Stowe, Mount Snow and Okemo, and in fall it's the favored road to see the colors change in spectacular fashion. But in summer, the 200-mile highway running up Vermont's spine is still one of the best places to cruise in New England, passing pine-covered mountains, beautiful lakes and quaint, low-key towns.
8. Teton Park Road and John D. Rockefeller Jr. Parkway, Wyoming
Take your time on this route that passes from the town of Jackson through Bridger-Teton National Forest to Yellowstone National Park. You'll spot a range of wildlife, especially if you venture out at dawn or dusk. It hugs the stunning Tetons, with countless points to pull over for foolproof photo ops.
9. North Cascades Highway, Washington
This road was once a Native American trading route and now is part of a 400-mile loop through the North Cascades, often called America's Alps. It's known for avalanches in the winter, but in summer it's a nature lover's haven. Bed down in Winthrop, a picture-perfect town, and drive Cascade River Road from Marblemount for a worthy detour.