Top Scenic Drives for Nature Lovers and Photographers
Nature lovers and photographers are always looking for places to pull off the road and aim their cameras. They wait patiently for the sun or the moon to rise so that they can capture the rays bouncing off the Atlantic Ocean. They have an eye that can see a perfect shot before they even raise their camera. If you're a dedicated photographer, you might enjoy driving the scenic roads that take you to exotic places. Think about how much more breathtaking the ride would be in a Dodge Hellcat. If you're in the market for a new vehicle, then don't overlook wrecked Hellcats as an option. You can get a performance car at affordable prices.
Finding the right road to drive a Hellcat on isn't hard. Here are some of the top scenic drives for nature lovers and photographers:
California State Route 1
Grab your camera and gear and head to the West Coast for a scenic ride that will wow you. You have the mighty roar of the Pacific Ocean on one side and the beauty of the cliffs and mountains on the other side. Starting at Dana Point, California, this 600-plus mile road winds along the dramatic edges of our nation before ending up just a ways past San Francisco.
As you cruise with your windows down and smell the salt in the air, don't forget to stop and explore some exciting places for history, beauty, and culture. Stay for the sunset and train your camera lens on the horizon. Maybe you'll capture that elusive green flash as the sun disappears for the night.
Here are some "don't miss" stops:
Hearst Castle – William Randolph Hearst put all other mansions to shame with this opulent masterpiece of decadence. Take the time to do a tour and explore the castle for yourself.
Cambria – This quaint village is resplendent with hanging flower baskets, Bavarian architectural influence, and wine sampling. The buildings date back to the 19th Century, and at the end of town, you have a cliffside view of the ocean and sea lions basking on the beach.
Bixby Bridge – A must-see for anyone, this bridge takes you 260 feet over a steep canyon. It delivers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Pull over and take photos to your heart's content.
Carmel-by-the-Sea – Once you visit this town, you'll see why Clint Eastwood wanted to be its mayor. Garden cottages, modern ranches, and Mediterranean estates combine charm with luxury. It's also home to Pebble Beach Golf Course.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Next, head to the East Coast for this scenic route. For 469 miles, the Blue Ridge Parkway winds through the Appalachian Mountains, offering nature lovers vista views of valleys, mountains, and trails. This parkway travels through 29 Virginia and North Carolina counties, connecting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with the Shenandoah National Park. These parks are popular with anyone looking to get lost in the serenity of mountain streams, waterfalls, and flowering meadows.
The drive offers some spectacular pullouts where you can take in the scenery or stand and let the mountain air cleanse your soul.
"Must see" stops include:
Linville Falls – A short hike into the woods takes you to Linville Falls, where you'll enjoy running water and birds singing.
Grandfather Mountain – This gets a little crowded, so don't be surprised if you have to park below and hike up – it's not a strenuous hike—, but once you get there, you can walk the swinging bridge to the dome.
Pisgah National Forest – This 500,000-acre forest is home to waterfalls, whitewater rivers, and hundreds of miles of hiking trails. Make sure to bring your camera and backpack.
Mount Mitchell – At 6,684 feet above sea level, this is the highest point east of the Mississippi. A short hike up from the parking lot offers 360-degree panoramic views. Autumn offers spectacular fall colors as they decorate the surrounding mountains.
While these two highways are impressive, other drives in the United States are still worth seeing.
Here is a list of some more remarkable drives:
Going to the Sun Road – Glacier Park, Montana
This road is closed more than it is open due to its location and being subject to the extreme mountain weather in Glacier National Park. This 50-mile road crosses the Continental Divide and takes you to Logan Pass, where you can get out and explore the glaciers and lakes before heading back down. The mountain goats are beggars though, so don't be surprised if they are standing outside your car door waiting for you when you park. Just make sure to check the road status before you go.
Overseas Highway – Florida Keys
If you like less snow and more ocean breezes, then the Florida Keys is a welcoming destination. The highway is only 113 miles long, but 42 bridges take you from key to key, starting in Key Largo and ending in Key West. You'll see the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other. Stay for the sundown party at Key West.
Columbia River Highway – Oregon
The Historic Columbia River Highway takes you 70 miles along the Columbia River and is dubbed the King of the Highways. With an area designated as Waterfall Corridor, you'll have more than one chance to be amazed by the power of water. If the cherries are in season then the wild cherry trees make for great picking, if the birds and bears haven't gotten to them first.
Route 66 – The Mother Road – Chicago to Santa Monica
You can't talk about scenic roads without mentioning The Mother Road: Route 66. Many sections of the road are no longer navigable due to narrow roads and antiquated structures, but if you do head along this road, make sure to get a map of the existing roadside attractions before you go. You don't want to miss a chance to see Cadillac Ranch, the Wigwam Motel, Meramec Caverns, or the Petrified Forest National Park.
Whether seeking serenity in the mountains, excitement along the coast, or the allure of the open road, these drives offer unforgettable experiences. Pack your camera, hit the road, and let the beauty of America's landscapes inspire your next adventure.