Most Scenic Road Trips in Utah

Make plans now to take all 10 of the best road trips in Utah—you won’t regret it

 Utah presents an array of scenic drives that will leave roadtrippers salivating for more. The terrain is vast and scarred with stunning canyons, defiant mountains, random but complex rock formations, fossil and archeological remnants from distant eras, and plenty of cool pit-stop or side-trip lookouts, interpretive sites, hikes, towns, parks, and even additional branching roadways.

Utah is a valued chunk of many inspiring National Scenic Byways and All-American Roadways. Also, it contributes its slew of state-sponsored drives across a wide spectrum of lengths and intensities. Depending on your odometer goals and gas fund, these are the best, most scenic road trips to undertake in the Beehive State. 

Zion National Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

1. Zion National Park Roadways

Picturesque and world-famous Zion National Park has a few great options for exploring with wheels. A lovely lead-up to the East entrance is the Zion National Scenic Byway (State Route 9) which begins at the intersection with State Route 17 in the city of La Verkin and cruises for 54 miles to the park entrance and then onwards to Mount Carmel Junction. Along the way, the byway passes through the towns of Rockville and Springdale and the mile-long Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel.

Also en route is the turnoff for Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. If adventuring after the Thanksgiving long weekend, motorists can continue in their own car along this cherished route. However, during peak season (late spring through early fall) visitors must transfer to the official shuttles to ease the congestion in the heart of the park. 

Hovenweep National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

2. Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway

The Utah segment of the Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway provides an extensive tour through the past and present stomping grounds of the Ancestral Puebloan and other Indigenous peoples of the Four Corners region (the meeting point of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico).

It’s best to break this over 400-mile drive into two or three-day chunks to hit all of the amazing stops spread across sections of U.S. 191 and 163 and State Route 261 and 262. Such highlights include the cliff dwellings of the Canyonlands region, Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum, Hovenweep National Monument, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Valley of the Gods, and Natural Bridges National Monument to name a few. Round trippers can return the way they came perhaps saving certain stops for the return journey or jumping on this next entry to switch up the scenery.

Natural Bridges National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

3. Bicentennial Highway

Southeastern Utah’s Bicentennial Highway (U.S. 95) is a perfect complement to the culturally-focused Trail of the Ancients National Scenic Byway. This highway goes for 133 miles from the small town of Hanksville back to the San Juan city of Blanding (where the Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum, a highlight shared with the Trail of the Ancients can be found).

To the West, views of the Henry Mountains can be enjoyed. The road then dives into classic canyon country before booting across the long and lean Lake Powell/Colorado River at the Hite Crossing Bridge (near the arresting Hite Overlook). As with the Trail of the Ancients, a side-trip loop around Bridge View Drive in Natural Bridges National Monument is a must. 

Arches Scenic Drive © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

4. Connecting Arches, Dead Horse, and Canyonlands

This one is more of a makeshift road trip based out of Moab with a bunch of cool stops that can be made at your leisure. For starters, head north into Arches National Park and make the out-and-back journey on Arches Scenic Drive.

Depending on how much time you invest in the various viewpoints and hikes either return to Moab to enjoy the offerings of this pretty desert town or head up to the turn-off for UT-313, marked by the Moab Giants Dinosaur Park. Shoot all the way down to Dead Horse State Park, and then backtrack to Grand View Point Road and descend into Canyonlands National Park/the Island in the Sky mesa. 

Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Scenic Byway 12

Utah’s State Route/Scenic Byway 12 is designated as an All-American Road meaning it exemplifies particularly unique features of the country’s landscape. This 123-mile stretch links U.S. 89 just south of Panguitch (the Western terminus) with State Route 24 just east of Torrey (the Northeastern terminus). Travelers will get a taste of the Dixie National Forest, the army of hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park, a view of the Henry Mountains, the sandstone cliffs of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the pastel hues of Capitol Reef National Park plus the state parks of Kodachrome Basin, Escalante Petrified Forest, and Anasazi Museum with random tunnels and eye-catching rock formations randomly punctuating the drive. 

Potash Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

6. Potash Scenic Byway

If a short, Moab-based, add-on road trip is all that is desired, scoot off on the Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway for 17 miles of bliss. State Route 279 or simply Potash Road is a hidden gem drive and given the low density of traffic is also a favorite among cyclists. This route follows the curves of the Colorado River to the border of Canyonlands National Park.

The river is contrasted by prominent sandstone cliffs and a popular climbing spot known as Wall Street. Right out of the gates, this drive offers terrific views of Moab Valley. Next, jump out at Potash Road Dinosaur Tracks and Petroglyphs to appreciate the accidental imprints left behind by the extinct giants and the intentional markings left behind by some of the area’s first human inhabitants. And all the while, keep a keen eye for those amazing arches and creative rock formations that Utah is famous for. 

Upper Colorado Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

7. Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway (State Route 128)

This spectacular route along the Colorado River gorge begins at the Colorado River Bridge on the north end of Moab. For the first 13 miles, it parallels the Colorado River within a narrow section of the gorge providing breathtaking views of the surrounding red sandstone cliffs. Popular attractions along this portion of the route include viewpoints of the river, public camping areas, and Grandstaff Canyon.

After 24.7 miles the highway passes a viewpoint for an amazing view of the red rock spires of the Fisher Towers. After leaving the valley, the road winds farther up the river gorge until arriving at the site of historic Dewey Bridge at 29.8 miles. Unfortunately Dewey Bridge was destroyed in April 2008 by a brush fire. The road then follows the northern bank of the river before exiting the Colorado River gorge. The highway proceeds across open desert toward the ghost town of Cisco at 44 miles. After another 5 miles the route intersects Interstate 70.

Patchwork Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

8. Patchwork Parkway

Very few routes in the U.S. exhibit a 4,500-foot elevation change that crosses six major life zones in 51 miles. The Patchwork Parkway (State Route 143) skirts lava flow only a few thousand years old before passing Panguitch Lake, a spectacular, large mountain lake renowned for its excellent fishing.

This topmost rise of the geological Grand Staircase showcases the 2,000-foot-deep Cedar Breaks amphitheater with its vibrant hues of pink, orange, red, and other coral colors carved from the Claron Formation.

This highway is also known as the Brian Head-Panguitch Lake Scenic Byway.

Prehistoric petroglyphs © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

9. Nine Mile Canyon

Cutting through the Book Cliffs of Eastern Utah is the must-see Nine Mile Canyon, dubbed the longest art gallery in the world. In this already seemingly sculpted place, the prehistoric Fremont Culture, Ute people, and other indigenous groups inscribed over 10,000 petroglyphs onto the canyon walls.

The 46-mile-long (one-way), winding Nine Mile Canyon Road brings these ancient and captivating works of art into view. Yes, despite the name, this road trip will chew up some solid miles. Thankfully, the road has been recently paved which makes the going a little easier for casual motorists but also spares the petroglyphs from harm that the kicked-up dust was causing over the years. Nine Mile Canyon Road can be accessed off Highway 191 near the Utah/Colorado border towns of Helper and Price. 

La Sal Mountain Loop © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

10. La Sal Mountain Loop

From the alpine ridges of the La Sal Mountains to the red rock desert and sandstone pinnacles of Castle Rock, this back road is an adventure. This 60-mile route is paved and starts about 8 miles south of Moab off US-191 and loops through the mountains down to Castle Valley and SR 128 where it follows the Colorado River back to Moab.

It takes about 3 hours to complete this drive. The narrow winding road while suitable for passenger cars is not suitable for large RVs. The La Sals are the most photographed mountain range in Utah, providing a dramatic background to the red rock mesas, buttes, and arches below.

With so many chart-topping national, state, and native parks/monuments, having a car is essential for taking in all Utah offers. Sometimes the trick is to drive just a little bit at a time, taking many breaks along the way or transitioning to an adventure on foot (rope, boat, or bicycle). But on other occasions, it can be rewarding to bank a ton of miles and appreciate how much the landscape can change with the climbing odometer. The best road trip is the one that calls to you but these ten entries are a great place to start.  

Worth Pondering…

Standing there, gaping at this monstrous and inhumane spectacle of rock and cloud and sky and space, I feel a ridiculous greed and possessiveness come over me. I want to know it all, possess it all, embrace the entire scene intimately, deeply, totally…

—Edward Abbey, once a park ranger at Arches, from his classic novel Desert Solitaire

The Ultimate Guide to Zion National Park

Zion National Park is without a doubt one of the most beautiful national parks in all of America

Nothing can exceed the wonderful beauty of Zion…

In the nobility and beauty of the sculptures there is no comparison…

There is an eloquence to their forms which stirs the imagination with a singular power and kindles in the mind a glowing response.

—Clarence E. Dutton, geologist, 1880

Situated in the southwest corner of Utah, Zion National Park is one of the planet’s most unique and breathtaking settings. At the heart of the park lies Zion Canyon, a 15-mile long, 2,600-foot deep gorge that is awe-inspiring both for its size and beauty. But the colorful sandstone walls sit amid the desert, forest, and river biospheres which are rarely found in such close proximity. This makes the park a truly magical environment that never ceases to amaze and delight.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

While Woodrow Wilson officially declared a national park in 1919, Zion’s history stretches back much further in time. Native Americans inhabited the region for at least 8,000 years with various tribes calling the area home over the centuries. Europeans arrived in the 1850s and ’60s ultimately displacing the Native Americans living there. Many of those early Europeans were members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints which derives a great deal of meaning from the park’s name.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In the 1860s, Mormon (Church of Latter-Day Saints) pioneers settled in southern Utah. When they arrived they thought it to be so beautiful, holy with its towering natural cathedrals made of rock that they called it Zion, a nod to Little Zion found in scripture in the Bible’s Old Testament. To them, it was a sacred dwelling. It still holds a sacred reverence to all who visit it today and it is without a doubt one of America’s most beloved national parks. Today, Zion is known for its excellent hiking, spectacular landscapes, and diversity of wildlife.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Things to do

As is typical with any national park, there is plenty to see and do in Zion. For example, visitors simply looking for a scenic drive should point their car toward the Kolob Canyons where they’ll find an epic 5-mile route that has to be seen to be believed. Birdwatchers will find a lot to love here as well with more than 280 avian species to spot throughout the park. That includes the rare—but increasing in numbers—California Condor which has appeared more frequently in recent years. If you linger in Zion after dark you’ll be treated to a celestial light show unlike any other with the night sky aglow with a billion stars overhead.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Travelers looking for an adrenaline rush can take to the Virgin River which has carved out Zion’s unique landscape over the years. The water can run fast and furious at times presenting challenging rapids meant for expert paddlers. The sandstone walls of the canyon make for excellent climbing and canyoneering—particularly in the famous Zion Narrows—is also a popular way to explore the area.

If you get hungry, options for finding food inside Zion National Park are somewhat limited. The visitor center does offer a limited number of drinks and snacks, while both the Castle Dome Café and Red Rock Grill at Zion Lodge offer a full menu for any time of the day.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Best hikes and trails

Zion features numerous hiking trails throughout its 146,000 acres. Many of those trails are remote and rugged so plan accordingly before setting out. That includes wearing appropriate footwear and bringing plenty of drinking water. Be prepared to be self-sufficient in the backcountry particularly if you wander into the Zion Wilderness. Backpackers planning to spend the night are also required to have a permit before venturing out. It is also important to note that the National Park Service limits the size of groups traveling together to 12 people.

Zion’s top trails are legendary amongst hikers, many of which come simply to knock a few off their adventure bucket list.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Narrows is a challenging walk that takes trekkers 9.4 miles into the canyon following the Virgin River along the way. Meanwhile, the moderately difficult Watchman Trail runs just 3.3 miles along rocky cliff faces rewarding visitors with some of the best views in the park along the way. The Overlook Trail is just 1 mile in length but ends at a lookout point that is also breathtaking in its scope.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The park’s signature hike without a doubt is Angels Landing—a demanding 5.5-mile walk that features over 1,500 feet of elevation gain along the way. This trek is not for the faint of heart or inexperienced as there are certain sections where chains have been installed to provide handholds while crossing through the more difficult portions. Those who do complete the journey are treated to a truly spectacular view at the end that provides an amazing sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. In response to concerns about crowding and congestion on the trail, on and after April 1, 2022, everyone who hikes Angels Landing needs to have a permit.

Those looking for easier, more accessible routes should give the Lower Emerald Pool Trail a go. This paved path runs for 1.2 miles and takes visitors to a beautiful waterfall and its namesake body of water where hikers can even take a dip.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Emerald Pools is a choose-your-own-adventure area in the park with three main hikes among lush vegetation leading to different water features at each. The middle trail is a more moderate hike gaining 150 feet leading to an overlook of the pools found on the lower trail and small waterfalls, and the upper pool is a strenuous climb up 350 feet to a waterfall that streams down from a cliff.

Other options include the 1-mile-long Grotto Trail which often provides opportunities to spot wildlife and the paved Riverside Walk which offers a 2.2-mile mini-Narrows experience.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Where to Stay

Travelers looking to spend a few days in and around Zion have several options when it comes to where they want to stay for the night. The famous Zion Lodge allows visitors to spend the night inside the park’s boundaries while still offering a comfortable setting. The Lodge offers standard rooms, cabins, and suites at varying price points and is open year-round.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Visitors to the park can also elect to camp inside its borders during their stay. There are three campgrounds found within Zion itself each with differing amenities. Lava Point Campground is the most remote and is usually only open between May and September. It is located at 7,890 feet along the Kolob Terrace where weather conditions can fluctuate rapidly. The South Campground and Watchman Campground are more accessible and have a few modern features including RV hookups and dump stations. Campsites start at $20 per night and reservations should be made through

As with most national parks and forests, backcountry camping is permitted in Zion although backpackers are urged to take caution when pitching their tent. Hikers should make camp a safe distance from water sources and out of the way of potential rockfalls. Backcountry camping is free, but a permit is required at all times.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Additionally, other overnight options can be found in the small towns that border the national park with Springdale and Rockville being the closest and most convenient. Those towns also offer a variety of restaurants for grabbing both a quick and easy meal as well as a more upscale sit-down experience.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Getting There

When driving to the park, head towards Springdale, Utah. Zion’s main entrance can be found on State Route 9. When heading north on Interstate 15 take Exit 16 then head east on SR 9. If you’re traveling south stay on Interstate 15 to Exit 27 then head east on State Route 17 until it intersects with SR 9. From there, continue heading east until you arrive at the park.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Of particular note, if you’re traveling in an RV you’ll want to be aware of the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. The 1.1-mile-long tunnel is found on State Route 9 and is the longest of its kind in the U.S. Because it is quite narrow, vehicles that are taller than 11 feet, 4 inches in height, or wider than 7 feet, 10 inches in width are required to have an escort or traffic control when passing through. There is a $15 fee for this service which is good for two trips. Vehicles that are 13 feet tall are prohibited from passing through the tunnel as are semi-trucks, vehicles longer than 40 feet, or those carrying hazardous materials.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Tips for your visit

Avoid the crowds: More than 4 million visitors flock to Zion in a given year. Most of them come between February and November with much smaller crowds in January and December. Those months may be colder and have less predictable weather so bring appropriate gear to stay warm and dry. At all times of the year, Zion Canyon is the busiest area of the park so head to Kolob Canyons or Kolob Terrace Road for more solitude.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fees and Passes: The entrance fee for Zion National Park is $35 for a private vehicle, $30 for a motorcycle, and $20 per person on foot. These fees provided a pass that is good for seven days. A Zion annual pass can be obtained for $70 and a lifetime pass can be purchased by seniors over the age of 62 for $80. America the Beautiful Annual Pass is a great value at $80 particularly if you plan on visiting any of Utah’s other national parks, such as Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef, or Canyonlands.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bring Binoculars: As mentioned, Zion is a virtual paradise for birdwatchers but there are plenty of other creatures to see as well. The park is home to bighorn sheep, mule deer, bobcats, mountain lions, porcupines, foxes, and the elusive ringtail cat. Carrying a pair of binoculars will make it easier to spot these creatures throughout your stay.

Check Trail Closures: Before planning a specific hike in Zion, be sure to check the park’s website or the visitor center for closures. Rockslides and high water are common at times both of which can temporarily close a trail down.

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fact Box

Size: 146,000 acres

Date established: November 19, 1919

Location: Southwestern Utah

Park Elevation: 3,666 feet-8,626 feet

Length of Zion Canyon: 15 miles

Depth of Zion Canyon: 2,640

Park entrance fee: $35 per private vehicle, valid for 7 days

Recreational visits (2021): 5,039,835

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

How the park got its name: The parkland that we now call Zion was occupied by the Anasazi people and Paiute Indians until the 1860s when a Mormon settler named Isaac Behunin came to the area. About the heavenly place, he remarked: “These great mountains are natural temples of God. We can worship here as well as in the man-made temples in Zion, the biblical heavenly ‘City of God.'” A short time later, Mormon leader Brigham Young came to the area and didn’t agree with the naming convention so the park began to be referred to as “Not Zion” or “Little Zion.” In any event, the name Zion took. In 1909 President William Howard Taft set aside Zion as a National Monument under the name “Mukuntuweap National Monument.” About a decade later, the acting director of the National Park Service reclaimed the name given to it by Mormon pioneers, Zion

Zion National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Did you know?

Zion National Park lies at the convergence of Great Basin, the Colorado Plateau, and the Mojave Desert (the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree also sit on Mojave.)  

In 2000, the Zion Shuttle system was implemented, reducing congestion at the most popular places in the park making it easier for all of us to get around.

Worth Pondering…

It is a place where a family can rest at streamside after a pleasant morning hike.

It is a vast labyrinth of narrow canyons where one can become hopelessly lost, shrinking to invisibility beneath dark, towering walls of stone.

One may feel triumph and exhilaration, or awesome smallness atop Angels Landing; thirst and fatigue, or a rewarding weariness, on the return trek from the backcountry.

Perhaps one’s view of Zion is in the eyes of the beholder.

—Wayne L. Hamilton, The Sculpturing of Zion

America’s 10 Best Scenic Byways for a Summer Road Trip

Discover America’s scenic byways on a summer road trip adventure

There’s nothing quite like packing up your car or recreation vehicle and heading out onto the open road. With over four million miles of roads crisscrossing the country, how do you choose where to travel?

In much the same way Congress set aside lands to be protected as national parks, the Department of Transportation has designated a network of spectacular drives that are protected as part of America’s Byways collection. Currently, the collection contains 184 National Scenic Byways and All-American Roads in 48 states. To become part of America’s Byways collection, a road must-have features that don’t exist anywhere else in the United States and be unique and important enough to be destinations unto themselves.

Without further ado, here are 10 of the most scenic and culturally significant byways in America for your summer road trip adventure.

Zion Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Zion Scenic Byway

Designation: National Scenic Byway (2021)

Intrinsic Qualities: Scenic

Location: Utah

Length: 54 miles

Zion Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Virgin River runs alongside the Byway and offers opportunities for recreation as well as important riparian habitat for wildlife. Hiking, mountain biking, bird watching, and river tubing provide recreation options for every ability and interest. Highway 9 is the major road providing access to Zion National Park. It winds past the park visitor center and museum, and many famous Zion landmarks. It provides access to Zion Canyon (accessible by shuttle only during the tourist season) and then goes through the park’s mile-long tunnel. It cuts through the park’s Checkerboard Mesa area and then ends at Highway 89 at Mt Carmel Junction.

Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway

Designation: National Scenic Byway (1996)

Intrinsic Qualities: Scenic

Location: South Dakota

Length: 70 miles

Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

This byway winds around spiraling “pig-tail” shaped bridges, through six rock tunnels, among towering granite pinnacles, and over pristine, pine-clad mountains. Highlights include Mount Rushmore, Harney Peak, Sylvan Lake, the Needle’s Eye, and Cathedral Spires rock formations. Forming a figure-eight route, the byway travels through Custer State Park, the Norbeck Wildlife Preserve, and the Black Elk National Wilderness Area. Highways 16A, 244, 89, and 87 combine to create the route.

Related Article: Scenic Byways across America Await Exploration

Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Scenic Byway 12

Designation: All-American Road (2002)

Intrinsic Qualities: Historic, Scenic

Location: Utah

Length: 123 miles

Scenic Byway 12 © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Scenic Byway 12 takes you to the heart of the American West. This exceptional route negotiates an isolated landscape of canyons, plateaus, and valleys ranging from 4,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level. This All-American Road connects US-89 near Panguitch on the west with SR-24 near Torrey on the northeast. It is not the quickest route between these two points but it is far and away the best.

Sky Island Parkway Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sky Island Parkway National Scenic Byway (Catalina Highway)

Designation: National Scenic Byway (2005)

Intrinsic Qualities: Natural

Location: Arizona

Length: 27.2 miles

Sky Island Parkway Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The journey starts among giant saguaro cacti of the Sonoran Desert and climbs to shady conifer forests at nearly 9,000 feet passing biological diversity equivalent to a drive from Mexico to Canada in just 27 miles. Spectacular views and recreational opportunities abound -from hiking and camping to picnicking and skiing.

Related Article: Get in your RV and Go! Scenic Drives in America

White Mountains Trail Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

White Mountains Trail National Scenic Byway

Designation: National Scenic Byway (1998)

Intrinsic Qualities: Scenic

Location: New Hampshire

Length: 100 miles

White Mountains Trail Scenic Byway (Mount Washington Cog Railway) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The White Mountains have long been known for natural splendor, cultural richness, historical charm, and some of the most beautiful scenery in the eastern United States. The White Mountains Trail encompasses all these aspects throughout its 100-mile route. The Trail is a loop tour that winds through sections of the 800,000-acre White Mountain National Forest and past many of the region’s most popular attractions. Views abound of villages and unspoiled National Forest. Stops include views of Mount Washington and the grand Mount Washington Hotel, mountain cascades, wildlife, and the Appalachian Trail.

Old Frankfort Pike Historic and Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Old Frankfort Pike Historic and Scenic Byway

Designation: National Scenic Byway (2021)

Intrinsic Qualities: Historic

Location: Kentucky

Length: 15.5 miles

Old Frankfort Pike Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Old Frankfort Pike National Scenic Byway extends 15 miles through a rural landscape that embodies the Bluegrass unlike any other. Here, internationally recognized Thoroughbred horse farms, diversified farms, country stores, railroad towns, and scenic landscapes have evolved over the past 250-plus years. Along the Byway are opportunities for a horse farm tour or a short side trip to neighboring attractions like Keeneland Race Track National Historic Landmark, Weisenberger Mill, and the historic railroad town of Midway.

Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway (Hovenweep National Monument) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway

Designation: National Scenic Byway (2021)

Intrinsic Qualities: Archeological

Location: New Mexico, Colorado, Utah

Length: 480 miles

Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway (Mesa Verde National Park) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Trail of the Ancients Scenic Byway provides a unique, well-preserved view of the history, memories, and traditions of the native peoples who lived in the American Southwest as hunters and gatherers thousands of years ago. The region and the scenic byway protect sacred archaeological remains and cultural and historic sites and allow visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the landscapes while experiencing ancient native cultures.

Related Article: Take the Exit Ramp to Adventure & Scenic Drives

Cherokee Foorhills Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway

Designation: National Scenic Byway (1998)

Intrinsic Qualities: Scenic

Location: South Carolina

Length: 112 miles

Cherokee Foothills Scenic Byway (Michael Gaffney Cabin) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One of the best ways to see the Upcountry is to hit the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway (SC-11). This will take you from the Georgia/South Carolina border at Lake Hartwell through the rolling hills of Piedmont all the way to historic Gaffney. A replica of the city’s founder homestead, The Michael Gaffney Cabin, is located in the heart of downtown.

Utah’s Patchwork Parkway (Panguitch Lake)© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Scenic Byway 143 – Utah’s Patchwork Parkway

Designation: All-American Road (2002)

Intrinsic Qualities: Historic, Scenic

Location: Utah

Length: 123 miles

Utah’s Patchwork Parkway (Cedar Breaks National Monument) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Very few routes in the U.S. exhibit a 4,500-foot elevation change that crosses six major life zones in 51 miles. The route skirts lava flow only a few thousand years old before passing Panguitch Lake, a spectacular, large mountain lake renowned for its excellent fishing. This topmost rise of the geological “Grand Staircase” showcases the 2,000-foot-deep Cedar Breaks amphitheater with its vibrant hues of pink, orange, red, and other coral colors carved from the Claron Formation.

Related Article: The Guide to Driving the Back Roads

Colonial Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Colonial Parkway

Designation: National Scenic Byway (2005)

Intrinsic Qualities: Natural, Historic

Location: Virginia

Length: 23 miles

Colonial Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Colonial Parkway is a twenty-three-mile scenic roadway stretching from the York River at Yorktown to the James River at Jamestown. It connects Virginia’s historic triangle: Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. Several million travelers a year use this route to enjoy the natural and cultural beauty of Virginia. The Parkway serves as a thoroughfare unifying culturally distinct sites crossing several pristine natural environments while still maintaining the National Park Service’s prime directive to conserve the scenery and provide enjoyment of the same.

Worth Pondering…

Our four simple rules: No Interstates, no amusement parks, no five-star accommodations, and no franchise food (two words which do not belong in the same sentence!)

—Loren Eyrich, editor/publisher Two-Lane Roads