The Most Epic Drives In and Around National Parks
It should be no surprise that we LOVE driving, and we’ve done a lot of it! A lot of the time, our favorite memories are driving to and around national parks—although we love a good hike, too. These are our favorite drives… so far:
Going-to-the-Sun Road/Photo by Wes and Sabrina
Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park
Words, photos, and videos can’t do this road justice. We’ve never seen anything else like it, and it’s our favorite drive we’ve ever done! Carved into the mountainside, Going-to-the-Sun Road is a 50-mile route through the center of Glacier National Park in Montana, and the only road that traverses the park. There are many pull-outs along the road, allowing you to stop and take in the beautiful waterfalls, glaciers, and mountains. At the top, at 6,646 feet, is Logan Pass, the continental divide, which is the start of several world-class hiking trails!
If you’re in an oversized vehicle or RV, or want to simply enjoy the sights instead of driving the windy road, there are tour buses that you can take to Logans Pass and back.
We LOVE Glacier, but our fellow ambassador Becky lives just outside of the park, so go check her out to learn more about it and other surrounding parks!
Glenn & Seward Highway, Alaska
There are a few places in the world that will make you feel truly small, like looking out across the Grand Canyon or gazing up at an ocean of stars. The Glenn & Seward highway is guaranteed to give you this same feeling. You’ll pass pre-historic glaciers and mountain peaks that tower over 14,000 feet. Although most will have to really work to get to this one (we sure did), you’re guaranteed to feel humbled among the vast Alaskan landscape.
To learn more about Alaska and its parks, check out Riley, the Hello Ranger Alaska ambassador!
Overlooking Vancouver/Photo by Wes and Sabrina
Sea to Sky Highway, Vancouver to Pemberton BC-99
Continuously ranked one of the best drives in the world, the Sea to Sky Highway is a breathtaking 254-mile road that starts at the U.S.-Canada border and goes up to through Vancouver to Highway 97. As the name suggests, this windy route starts at the sea and carves through cliffs overlooking the Howe Sound, before carrying on through Whistler, Canada. Be sure to drive it both directions to get the maximum effect!
Alyse knows all about Western Canada—go check her out to learn more about International travel!
If you feel confident, driving on the beach is pretty sweet!/Photo by Wes and Sabrina
Highway 101, Washington, Oregon, California Coast
One of the most well-known and most popular drives on this list, Highway 101 is world-renowned for its beauty and iconic landmarks. For most of the drive, the 101 hugs the coast through Washington, Oregon, and California, ultimately spanning 1,550 miles. There are so many iconic things to stop at along the way: Olympic National Park, Thor’s Well, Redwoods National & State Parks, beaches, bluffs, and so much more.
To learn more about Pacific West and its parks, check out ambassador Linda!
Thor’s Well was one of our favorite stops along Highway 101/Photo by Wes and Sabrina
Blue Ridge Parkway & Skyline Drive, North Carolina & Virginia
Not far from where we grew up, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive exemplify our love for driving, and the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. There’s little better than slowing down and winding through the Appalachian Mountains on Blue Ridge Parkway. Once the parkway ends, Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park begins, and together they span 574.5 miles. Although they’re beautiful any time of the year, these are best driven in the fall. During this time, people from all over the world come to experience the changing colors of nature!
There’s a lot of great places to adventure to in this part of the U.S. Check out Bonnie & Grant to learn more about the Southeast and the national parks there!
Winter, summer, spring, or fall, the Blue Ridge Mountains are incredible/Photo by Wes and Sabrina
Moab to Jackson & Jackson to Glacier or Jasper
This is one of our favorite drives—and places to hang out. The scenery and eco-system changes are so frequent that this drive always has something new to look at and enjoy! Take a desert off-roading tour in Moab, hike through Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, and drive through the mountains of Utah and Wyoming before reaching Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. Continue north for a couple more hours to reach our favorite national park, Glacier, and drive the aforementioned Going-to-the-Sun Road. If you’re hungry for more, and have a passport, just a few hours north of that are two of Canada’s prized parks: Banff and Jasper! With so much bang for your buck, you’re only ever a six-hour drive away from another spectacular national park!
We need to think of a cool name for this route. Hmm… any ideas?
When driving through Yellowstone, you never know what you’ll pass/Photo by Wes and Sabrina
TBD: To Be Driven
Unfortunately, we haven’t been everywhere (yet), but these are on our NEED to drive list!
- Hana Highway, Maui
- Route 12, Utah
- Florida Keys
Each of these drives will take you through places with deep history. We think it’s important to understand the good, the bad, and the ugly behind the history of each park and city we travel to. We developed ExploreHere to let you freely explore over 130,000 unique historical markers spread throughout the world. So the next time you take a road trip, download ExploreHere and get notified whenever you pass a historically interesting place, and read about the history that surrounds you!
Download Android—coming soon!
Writing this article makes me miss all of these places, and yearn to drive the ones I haven’t… time for another roadtrip?!
We’ve driven a lot of North America, but we haven’t spent a lot of time in—or know a lot about—the northeast. Are there any world-class scenic drives up there that you recommend, or any other drives we missed? Join us on the Hello Ranger app to continue the discussion!
Header photo: Glenn Highway/Photo by Wes and Sabrina
Sabrina and Wes live, work, and travel full-time out of their self-built Ford Transit van. At ExploreHere and YouMeAndTheParks, they build web and mobile apps that help share information and history about parks, lands, and all the places in-between.