9 Most Scenic Mountain Drives In The United States

The United States offers some of the most rugged and beautiful mountain ranges you’ll find on this amazing planet.

And what better way to experience the natural beauty of the mountains of the US than with a scenic drive through them?

If that sounds like a plan to you, you’re in luck with this guide to the 9 most scenic mountain drives in this country.

From the rugged peaks of the Rockies to the lush forests of the Appalachians, each drive offers its own unique blend of awe-inspiring views, diverse wildlife, and geological masterpieces.

So whether you’re seeking thrilling high-altitude roads, tranquil forested paths, or panoramic views that stretch for miles, these drives are sure to leave you with unforgettable memories and a newfound appreciation for the States’ natural beauty.

1)  Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia & North Carolina

Instagram: @leslie_restivo

The Blue Ridge Parkway, renowned as “America’s Favorite Drive,” winds gracefully for 469 miles along the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a major range within the Appalachians. 

This scenic byway links Shenandoah National Park in Virginia with Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina, offering a serene and leisurely journey. 

As you traverse this route, you’re enveloped in a constantly changing tapestry of natural beauty. 

Instagram: @imonfil__

Spectacular vistas open up to reveal rolling hills, lush forests, and diverse wildlife. 

In spring and summer, wildflowers bloom in abundance, while autumn brings a stunning display of fall foliage. 

The parkway is dotted with overlooks, picnic spots, hiking trails, and historic sites, inviting travelers to immerse themselves in the tranquility and splendor of the Appalachian highlands.

2)  Million Dollar Highway, Colorado

Instagram: @briancbusto

The Million Dollar Highway, part of Colorado’s San Juan Skyway, is a breathtaking stretch of road that spans approximately 25 miles between Silverton and Ouray. 

Renowned for its stunning panoramic views, this highway winds through the heart of the Rocky Mountains. 

What makes it particularly scenic are the dramatic landscapes it traverses – towering cliffs, vast canyons, and the rugged San Juan Mountains. 

Instagram: @scottosbornphoto

The road, often lined with wildflowers, offers glimpses of historic mining towns and cascading waterfalls. 

In fall, the aspen trees ignite in a blaze of gold, enhancing the drive’s beauty. 

The route’s high elevation and sharp curves contribute to its reputation as a thrilling, yet challenging drive, famous for lacking guardrails.

3)  Cascade Loop, Washington

Instagram: @pgk_photograph

The Cascade Loop in Washington State is a 440-mile journey of astonishing diversity and beauty. 

This scenic byway encircles the Cascade Mountain Range, offering an immersive experience into the Pacific Northwest’s iconic landscapes. 

As you traverse the loop, you witness a mesmerizing blend of snow-capped peaks, lush alpine forests, and serene lakes. 

Instagram: @cascadeloop

The route takes you through the stunning North Cascades National Park, known for its dramatic mountain scenery and cascading waterfalls. 

Charming towns like Leavenworth, with its Bavarian-themed village, add cultural flavor. 

Each season paints the loop in different hues, from vibrant wildflower meadows in spring and summer to fiery autumn foliage and winter’s pristine snowscapes.

4)  Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana

Instagram: @cyclinghouse

Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, Montana, is a marvel of engineering and natural beauty. 

Stretching over 50 miles, it offers an unparalleled journey through the heart of the Rockies. 

This scenic drive is renowned for its dramatic vistas of deep valleys, rugged cliffs, and glacial peaks. As you travel, you’re surrounded by pristine wilderness, lush meadows, and sparkling lakes. 

Instagram: @joemackin

The road takes you over Logan Pass, the highest point at 6,646 feet, where sweeping panoramic views await. 

Along the route, you may even encounter diverse wildlife, including mountain goats and bears. 

Waterfalls and wildflowers add to the road’s enchanting scenery, making it a must-visit for those seeking a profound drive in the untouched beauty of big sky country.

5)  Mount Washington Auto Road, New Hampshire

Instagram: @olga.my_american_life

The Mount Washington Auto Road in New Hampshire presents a unique and thrilling ascent to the summit of the Northeast’s highest peak, Mount Washington. 

Stretching for 7.6 miles, this road offers an ever-changing landscape as it climbs to 6,288 feet. 

The journey is scenic and dramatic, with vistas that extend across the Presidential Range and beyond. 

Instagram: @matt.lindahl.w

As you ascend, the environment transitions from dense forests to above-tree-line alpine conditions, showcasing a variety of flora and fauna. 

The summit provides awe-inspiring 360-degree views of the surrounding White Mountains, valleys, and, on clear days, distant neighboring states. 

Known for its unpredictable weather, the Mount Washington Auto Road presents a challenging and unforgettable experience, reflecting the rugged beauty of New Hampshire’s wilderness.

6)  Sawtooth Scenic Byway, Idaho

Instagram: @xscapevelocity

The Sawtooth Scenic Byway in Idaho, stretching 116 miles, is a breathtaking route that showcases the rugged beauty of the American West. 

Beginning in Shoshone, the byway winds northward to the charming town of Stanley, with the majestic Sawtooth Mountains as a constant backdrop. 

Instagram: @jenhannahmurphy

Along the route, travelers are treated to a stunning panorama of towering peaks, pristine alpine lakes, and dense forests. 

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area offers ample opportunities for hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. 

Highlights include the dramatic Galena Summit, offering spectacular views of the Sawtooth Valley, and the tranquil beauty of one of Idaho’s best hidden gems in Redfish Lake

7)  Skyline Drive, Virginia

Instagram: @claymccreary

Skyline Drive, the only public road through Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, offers a serene 105-mile journey along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

Renowned for its stunning vistas, the drive features over 75 overlooks providing breathtaking views of the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmont. 

Each season brings its own charm: spring with blooming wildflowers, summer’s lush greenery, spectacular fall foliage, and the stark beauty of winter. 

Instagram: @wild_n_free883

Wildlife sightings, including deer and black bears, add to the experience. 

The drive also offers access to numerous hiking trails, including parts of the Appalachian Trail, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts. 

Skyline Drive’s gentle meanders and rolling landscape encapsulate the tranquil beauty of the Appalachians.

8)  Beartooth Highway, Montana & Wyoming

Instagram: @michael_bradley_photo

The Beartooth Highway, one of the most beautiful highways in the US that most have never heard of, is one of the most spectacular mountain drives in North America. 

Stretching approximately 68 miles, it traverses a series of steep zigzags and switchbacks in the most daring landscapes along the Montana-Wyoming border, leading from Red Lodge to the northeastern entrance of Yellowstone National Park. 

This All-American Road reaches its highest point at Beartooth Pass, an astonishing 10,947 feet above sea level. 

Instagram: @windingtrailsphotography

At this elevation and latitude, snowstorms can occur even in the middle of the summer, and the pass is also known for severe thunderstorms and strong winds.

As you ascend, you’re greeted with breathtaking vistas of towering peaks, expansive plateaus, and glacial lakes. 

Vast alpine meadows bloom with wildflowers in the summer, and the area is rich in wildlife. 

The highway’s dramatic landscapes and high-altitude thrills offer a unique and unforgettable driving experience.

9)  Trail Ridge Road, Colorado

Instagram: @maryj929

Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, is about as spectacular a mountain drive as you’ll find in this country. 

As the highest continuous paved road in North America, it reaches an elevation of 12,183 feet, offering breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains. 

Spanning 48 miles between Estes Park and Grand Lake, the road provides a panorama of rugged peaks, alpine meadows, and expansive skies. 

Instagram: @ramesh_ks01

Along the route, you’ll see delicate tundra wildflowers, ancient glaciers, and possibly wildlife like elk and marmots. 

The Alpine Visitor Center, near the road’s highest point, offers stunning overlooks. 

The road’s design respects the natural landscape, making for an immersive experience in one of America’s most dramatic mountain ranges

Final Word

These mountain drives are as beautiful as you’ll find in the US, but they’re rivaled by some of this country’s 11 most scenic coastal drives that offer a completely different kind of beauty.