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The 10 Best Road Trips to Take in the United States

Gear up for your next road trip with Sawyer.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

For as long as there have been cars to drive, there have been road trips. From Steinbeck's Travels with Charley: In Search of America to Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenace, hitting the open road has long been an American tradition. 

These days, more people are exploring by car than ever before. Here are ten quintessential road trips from across the United States, presented courtesy of Sawyer.

Portland to Acadia National Park, Maine

Photo by Sarah Giek

Get a taste of coastal New England on this 3-hour road trip from the hipster city of Portland to the wild beauty of Acadia National Park. It's faster if you take the interstate, but what would be the fun in that? Drive the winding Coastal Route 1 to check out charming small towns and rocky beaches. Once you arrive in Acadia, plan plenty of time for hiking, biking on the old carriage roads, and eating in funky Bar Harbor.

Pacific Coast, Oregon

Photo by Jhamil Bader

The Pacific Coast of Oregon is known as the "People's Coast" because it's Oregon State law that the entire coast is open to everyone. Get ready for a lush green landscape, kept vibrant by a humid climate and the salty sea spray. There are plentiful state parks along the way for exploration and camping, and the scattered coastal towns provide tasty local food and dozens of breweries. 

Upper Peninsula, Michigan

Photo by Sonja Saxe

Michigan's Upper Peninsula is beautiful, remote, and a complete surprise to those who haven't visited. Barely tamed and wildly gorgeous, this is a trip best taken in the summer or fall. Check out the tea-colored waterfalls at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, the turquoise waters of Lake Superior at Pictured Rocks National Seashore, and watch the activity on the ore docks in Marquette's Presque Isle Harbor. For the even more adventurous, a drive to Copper Harbor, on the Keweenaw Peninsula, is worth every mile.

Adirondacks, New York

Photo by Sara Sheehy

Turn off your cell phone (it won't work here, anyway), and explore New York's gorgeous Adirondack Park. Filled with mountains, forests, 3,000 lakes, and over 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, the Adirondacks are closer than you think. Peak baggers will find a thrill in the High Peaks, while those who love relaxing on the shore with a cocktail in hand will love the resort town of Lake Placid or the quiet beauty of Old Forge. For backpackers, the Adirondacks have around 200 lean-tos for your long hikes.

Badlands to the Black Hills, South Dakota

Photo by Matt Fischer

It's hard to imagine two landscapes more different and yet so close together, as South Dakota's Badlands National Park and the Black Hills. Start in the Badlands, where erosion has created a landscape that's as wild to look at as it is to explore. From there, head to the forested beauty of the Black Hills, an isolated band of mountains filled with big wildlife and even bigger views.

Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia

Photo by Elyse Clark

If traveling through bucolic agrarian America scenes is your jam, then the Blue Ridge Parkway is your road trip. Stretching for 469 miles through the southern Appalachian Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers up pastoral beauty, miles of hiking trails, historical waypoints, and tons of camping. It's lovely year-round, but fall is when this drive really shines.

Northwest Arkansas

Photo by Jon King

Densely forested and filled with trails to explore, Northwest Arkansas has been flying under the radar for a while—but it won't be for long. Check out the clear streams and waterfalls of Devil's Den State Park before heading north to the college town of Fayetteville. Fayetteville is a burgeoning mountain bike hotspot, with over 300 miles of trails for all skill levels. 

Austin to the Hill Country, Texas

Photo by Erin Newman-Mitchell

Quirky Austin is worth a visit in its own right, but add on a road trip to the Texas Hill Country, and you have the makings of a trip that combines all the perks of city life with the beauty of exploring the natural world. Take a dip in natural springs, hike through the grasslands, take a float down the river, and top it all off with a night of food and drink on Austin's East Sixth Street.

Big Sur, California

Photo by Stephen Bellrichard

While it's true that parts of Big Sur's stunning coastline have a tendency to disappear into the ocean, cutting off the ability to travel from Monterey straight down to Sam Simeon, this road trip is still one of the most beautiful in the United States. To play it safe, pick your destination—the amenities and conveniences of northern Big Sur or the wilds of the south? No matter how you tackle it, you won't regret checking out this coast.

Everglades to Key West, Florida

Photo by Jess Curren

For being so close to the glitzy glamour of Miami, Everglades National Park and Key West are wilder than you think. The Everglades look like land but are, in fact, mostly aquatic, filled with alligators, crocodiles, and so many species of birds that you'll quickly lose count. Hike, paddle a canoe trail, and then head down the Florida Keys, where the tropical islands and crystal-clear water will have you convinced you're in the Caribbean.

Your Road Trip Packing List

Be sure to stock up your road trip travel kit with these must-have items from Sawyer. Sawyer designs technologically-advanced solutions for protection against sun, bugs, water, and injuries so that your explorations can be about enjoying nature, not hiding from it.

Personal Water Filtration Bottle: Never wonder about drinking out of that tap at the campground or that mountain stream again. Sawyer's Personal Water Filtration Bottle removes 99.9999% of all bacteria and protozoa, as well as 100% of all microplastics. 

More water filtration from Sawyer

Permethrin Insect Repellent for Clothing, Gear, and Tents: Keep the bugs and spiders away from all your gear (and your clothes!) with odorless Permethrin spray that lasts for 6 weeks or 6 washings. 

More insect repellents from Sawyer

Stay-Put SPF 30 Sunscreen: There is nothing fun about sunburn when you're far from home. Stay-Put is a non-greasy SPF 30 lotion that provides all-day protection with a single application.

Blist-O-Ban Adhesive Bandages: Prevent blisters before they start with Blist-O-Ban medical-grade adhesive bandages. Use them on hot spots or existing blisters to save your feet on your next hike.

More first aid from Sawyer

Safety Disclaimer: Confirm what current COVID-19 health and safety protocols and guidelines are in place by all tour vendors, accommodations, and city/county/state guidelines prior to booking. Follow the safety guidelines to keep yourself and others safe. Those choosing to travel during this time do so at their own risk.

Cover photo by Holly Mandarich

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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