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Will
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The Best Drives in America

This is something that caught me totally by surprise. I did a lot of driving and during my planning phase of the trip I always considered driving to be a bit of a necessary evil. It was a way for me to get from one place to another place.

And I was totally wrong about this. The driving ended up to be a part of the journey that was remarkable and memorable. By the end of it I loved the driving.

And I was astonished by the beauty that America offers a person just sitting in the car on a road or highway somewhere.

 

This is something that caught me totally by surprise. I did a lot of driving and during my planning phase of the trip I always considered driving to be a bit of a necessary evil. It was a way for me to get from one place to another place.

And I was totally wrong about this. The driving ended up to be a part of the journey that was remarkable and memorable. By the end of it I loved the driving.

And I was astonished by the beauty that America offers a person just sitting in the car on a road or highway somewhere. I took notes on some of the best drives I experienced and let me share them with you.

There is one important thing I should convey to you when it comes to driving and seeing the sights from your car. (Including rest stops and stopping along the way just to take in views and vistas). A drive can vary considerably and change a whole lot depending on what time of day you experience it. I noticed this early on in my adventure. This is because on the east coast I did a lot of zigzag back and forth driving.

Things change a lot and generally the best experiences driving came to me during either the early morning when the sun was rising or in the late afternoon when the sun was getting low on the horizon. This angle of sunlight accentuated everything, casting longer shadows and bringing out more colors in the landscape. So, while I recommend you avoid night time driving you might want to do some drives in the evening or late afternoon while the sun is having a wonderful affect on the landscape.

There are so many places with wonderful and beautiful drives. It was difficult for me to pare this list down. But here are some of what I consider the better ones.

Route 18 in Wisconsin/Iowa

Route 18 is an east west highway starts in Milwaukee Wisconsin and goes west into the northern part of Iowa and continues west. I took the drive from Milwaukee all the way to Mason City Iowa where I spent a couple of nights at a Days Inn. The drive is between five and six hours. And it is not a major highway. It is a smaller highway mostly one lane in each direction.

This drive caught me totally by surprise. It is absolutely beautiful in a subtle way. Iowa is a farm state and 90% of it's land is used for farming a variety of crops, mostly corn but also things like soybeans and Winter Wheat.

The landscape is gentle, with a lot of easy rolling hills and easy curves for many miles. And there are a lot wind turbines. You also pass through a series of small towns that still retain the wonderful feeling of an easy and innocent America. If you want to get a look at what corn growing mid America looks like this drive is wonderful. I loved it, this state, and this wonderful feeling of tranquility so much that I seriously considered getting a place to stay here somewhere along Route 18 once my journey was over.


Route 89 in Utah

Route 89 in Utah

This is another very special drive although very different than 18 in Iowa. This one is all about mountainous and cavernous landscapes that are a mixture of reds, yellows and oranges. We are talking �big country� here. And the state of Utah knows that this route is magnificent and it has a series of vista view points and rest stops along the way for you to experience and enjoy the drive. I made several stops here on this route and found myself wanting to stop at every vista � although I didn't.

89 Goes North/South from just west of Bryce Canyon to Salina Utah. This is the drive I took. It is about a two hour drive.

 

 

 

 

 



The Pacific Coast Highway in California

The Pacific Coast HighwayI shouldn't even mention this drive. It is possibly the most famous drive in America and rightfully so. California has been getting a lot of negative press the past few years for its current economic state. It is expensive and there is a certain amount of turmoil there. But�, there is a reason why people have traveled to this state in droves for over a century now. It is absolutely magnificent and spectacular. And it is so long with so much to see. I drove the whole coast of the Pacific Ocean starting in Seattle Washington then through Oregan. So I entered California at the very northmost part and traveled the whole distance all the way down the coast to Tijuana Mexico. I got a good look at all of it.

There are two major paths along this journey: Route 101 and Route 1. If you are starting in the north part then you start by driving route 101 then at any number of various points starting at Leggert and going south you can switch over to route 1. And you can of course go back and forth. The list of things to see is enormous including redwood forests, state parks, Malibu, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego.

I highly recommend you spend some time with maps, guidebooks and google maps checking out this long stretch of highways. And pick and choose what along the way you want to see. My top three recommendations are to spend at least one full day in one of the redwood forests, spend at least one full day in San Simeon so you can see Hearst Castle and see the Golden Gate Bridge in San francisco.

Technically you could probably do the whole drive in 15-18 hours. But why would you? I ended up spending ten days in California just slowly making my way down the coast and staying in various motels.



Route 14 from Cody Wyoming to Yellowstone National Park

Cody is a city just east of Yellowstone Park. It has places to stay and I checked into a motel there in the afternoon so that the following morning I could set out early for Yellowstone (I ended up spending two days in Yellowstone.) Yellowstone is a colorful and wonderful world all unto itself. And the drive up to it is a beautiful transition from the normal America and into Yellowstone. Along the way the landscape is magnificent and there are long stretches with a river on your left and just past it there is a range of mountainous terrain. It's just wonderful. This is a great look at Roosevelt's America.

 

Route 70 Between Grand Junction and Denver Colorado

Colorado is a beautiful state. There is lots of interesting terrain and lots of mountainous terrain. You pass up and over several smaller mountains on this drive and all along the way there are national parks and lots of beautiful rest stops. And you spend many miles traveling alongside the Colorado River. Many of the Rest stops feature the river. It's simply a beautiful drive. I drove it in late Summer and I can't say how it is in Winter but it might be a bit challenging because of snow. Check first!

 

Route 98 along the Florida Coast toward New Orleans

Florida, and the whole coast between Talahassee and New Orleans surprised me. I did the drive just to get to New Orleans which was something I was really looking forward to. Along the Gulf coast is simply magnificent and unlike the rest of America. There is lots of ocean and palm trees, many beautful cities and towns and very distinct architecture. There is also a fair bit of swamplands. With this drive you traverse three states:Florida, a little bit of Alabama, and Lousiana. I split the drive over two days each day being about five hours of driving. At the midway point I stayed one night in Mobile Alabama. The food, the climate, the surroundings; it is all very special. And at the end of the drive (If you travel from east to west) is the destination of New Orleans which is a unique destination in America.

 

Route 10 San Antonio Texas to Las Cruces New Mexico (The Chihuahuan desert and El Capitan Mountain)

I was very much suprised to discover that West Texas is very much different than the rest of Texas. It is scrubland and very harsh (Much of it is in the Chihuahuan Desert which stretches between Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and into South America.

It is harsh yet beautiful in a scrub brush sort of way. And, as you travel east you will eventually spot the top of a mountain far off in the distance. It is a peak that stands all alone and it's name is "El Capitan". As you travel west on route 10 you eventually get pretty close to it and realize how big, stark and beautiful it is. I loved this drive all the way to Las cruces New Mexico.