North America covers more than 9.5 million square miles of stunning landscape, replete with history, culture, and traditions. It is the planet’s third largest continent, making it one of the best places to go on an exciting and enriching road trip. So, get ready with your gear and prep your vehicle. Check out these best North American road trips that you have got to take at least once in your life.
There is no better way to start your North American road trip than on the United States’ most scenic and most historic highway – Route 66. This is a 2,448-mile journey that will take you from Chicago in Illinois, all the way to Santa Monica in California. You will follow the same trail that the early American settlers took as they expanded westwards.
Known as the Mother Road or the Main Street of America, Route 66 takes you through eight different states. It doesn’t matter where you start. You can begin your journey on the West and move eastwards and vice versa. Expect the road trip to take you down memory lane when horse-drawn carriages used to buzz through the route in its early days. And as horses gave way to automotive machines, you will still marvel at the scenic towns that dot the route.
This is not an ordinary road trip. It is full of history, rich traditions, and timeless classics. There are motels and diners along the route that will give you a nostalgic feeling. Make sure to stop by Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico and check out St. Joseph’s Church. This is the continent’s oldest church. And for car fans, a visit to the Cadillac Ranch in Texas is a must.
Canada also has its answer to the historic Route 66 in the US. This is the 4,860-mile long Trans-Canada Highway. It crosses through all of Canada’s 10 provinces. It starts in Victoria on the Pacific side and terminates in St. John’s in the Atlantic corridor of Canada. You will never get lost in this transcontinental highway as the route has unique maple leaf route markers in white and green.
This North American road trip will take you through rugged landscapes where your driving skills will be put to the ultimate test. You have to be ready with your vehicle, too. There are quaint fishing villages that offer a different kind of experience to road trippers and adventurers. The desolate stretches can be a great opportunity to take in as much as what Mother Nature can provide. Flat prairies lead to modern cities where you can indulge in some fine Canadian cuisine, entertainment, and nightlife.
From Vancouver, you will pass through the Glacier National Park and the Banff National Park. The eastern section of the route takes you through Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador. With each province offering a wide array of historic places, fascinating attractions, and rich cultural traditions, you can expect your road trip to be worthwhile.
Canada to Mexico Trail
There is one epic route that only the brave dare take. This is the Canada to Mexico Trail that starts in Cache Creek in British Columbia and ends in Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. The Canadian section of this trail covers 254 miles. The US section runs the Pacific backbone for 1,381 miles as part of Interstate 5. The Mexican section is about 1,063 miles long that starts at the border near Tijuana and terminates in Cabo San Lucas. It is a 2,698-mile journey that takes you through some of the most scenic and historic routes of North America.
The most famous route in the Canadian section of the trail is the Sea to Sky Highway. This is a magnificent stretch of road that takes you from the scenic Pemberton Valley to the stunning Horseshoe Bay. Don’t forget to make a stopover at the world-class ski resort of Whistler. This route alone will let you drive through mountain passes, following the shorelines of lakes, and crossing rivers. Watch out for The Chief. This is a 2,296-foot giant rock face in Squamish.
The US section of the route will take you through Washington, Oregon, and California. You will pass through the bustling city of Seattle as you head down south. Passing through Oregon’s Rogue Valley should help prepare you for the 4,310-foot ascent towards Siskiyou Summit. This is the route’s highest point. It offers you an excellent vantage point for marveling at the vast expanse of Oregon land.
Drive at the foot of California’s Mount Shasta and make your way towards Sacramento. Do not forget to check out the fascinating attractions that Los Angeles and San Francisco have to offer.
The Mexican portion of this North American road trip takes you from Tijuana all the way to the tip of Baja California. You will drive along the west coast until you get to Santa Rosalia. From here, it is a different scenic drive that greets you. This section of the route will have you driving along the east coast of the peninsula.
Lake Superior Circumnavigation
People do not call Lake Superior the greatest of North American Great Lakes for nothing. Its shoreline stretches some 1,729 miles, although it is only about 350 miles long. That is why one of the best road trips in North America includes driving around this Great Lake. If you decide to take on this epic journey, make sure to bring along a kayak, a mountain bike, and your diving gear. You will need these to enjoy the different activities that the route has to offer.
Start your trip on the southwestern corner of Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota. There are plenty of mountain bike trails in this part of the route. Many are technical and flowy and can test your biking skills. Copper Harbor in Michigan and the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in Ontario are also great places to try out your biking competencies.
Head towards the north into the Pukaskwa National Park and put on your hiking gear. The coastal hiking trail in this section runs some 37 miles. Treat yourself to fascinating landscapes and a breathtaking view of Lake Superior. Get ready with your diving gear and explore the shipwrecks at the bottom of the lake. There’s a 150-foot schooner that never fails to amaze divers. Finish your road trip by kayaking at the Apostle Island National Lakeshore.
The Loneliest Road
If you do not mind driving your car across a barren landscape, then you should consider The Loneliest Road in America. This is only 408 miles long that takes you across the center of Nevada. The route is part of the US Route 50 that starts in West Sacramento and ends in Ocean City in Maryland. Route 50 takes you from the Pacific coast all the way to the Atlantic shores for a distance of 3,017 miles. However, one of the most intriguing parts of this transcontinental highway is the Nevada section.
The Loneliest Road does not always translate to the most boring road trips ever. In fact, there are a number of interesting places to see along the route. You can always start at Lake Tahoe and try some water-related activities to get you ready for the journey. The place has plenty of ski resorts and lakeside casino resorts to give you good luck. Your journey terminates at the Great Basin National Park, where you can always stretch your legs and unwind.
The road trip takes you through 17 mountain passes that break the monotony of the Nevada desert. There are large desert basins and valleys that offer road trippers a different view. The towns of Fallon, Austin, and Ely all have their unique charms. Check out the Fort Churchill Historic Park and the different ghost towns along the way.
If the desolate landscape of The Loneliest Road is not your thing, then you might want to take a drive across a very different landscape. The Overseas Highway or Highway 1 is a 171-mile trip that takes you from glitzy Miami to idyllic Key West. The drive itself is short. However, you will never run out of things to do as you explore each Key on the Atlantic.
This road trip is the perfect example of how modern pop culture meets and blends with the picturesque and tranquil beauty of the sea. Highway 1 is an engineering feat in itself. It links the different Keys together. There are tacky tourist shops that can provide entice with interesting souvenirs. Restaurants and diners never run out of amazing seafood they brought in fresh from the water.
You have to try Alabama Jacks’ conch fritters. These treats are one of a kind. You can also take a hike under the mahogany mistletoes and sea grape trees of the Dagny Johnson Hammock Botanical State Park on Key Largo. Go snorkeling at the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park or explore a Spanish shipwreck at the bottom of the Cannon Beach. You can also go fishing for tarpons, bonefish, and snook.
There are many scenic routes and historic trails all over North America. Some are short while others cover great distances. Make sure that your vehicle is in tip top shape regardless of which route you want to take.
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