The nation that invented road tripping abounds with incredible drives, yet why does one clichéd icon, Route 66, steal all the limelight? Here are our picks of the USA’s other bucket-list road trips. By Quentin Long
Time to complete: Two to five days
Known as Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway and Shoreline Highway, this drive is everything a great drive should be, deserving of its legendary status.
The best way to drive it is from north to south, giving you a better view of the Pacific Ocean through the particularly picturesque region of Big Sur.
Time to complete: Two to eight hours
Quite simply, the Going to the Sun Road is one of the most underrated roads in one of the most underrated national parks in one of the most underrated states of the 48 mainland states.
Bisecting the Glacier National Park, the road is just 80 kilometres long but packs a powerful punch.
Climbing to an ear-popping 2025 metres above sea level at its most famous point – Logan Pass – it has more hairpin twists and turns than a pit of snakes.
Being in one of the most remote and pristine states of the US, the wildlife here is prolific. Big horned sheep, bears (both the grizzly and black), wolves, wolverines, moose and elk are frequently spotted by passengers who have the luxury of not focussing intently on the road.
The national park also offers a shuttle bus service, but for a little more adventure hum in one of the restored 1930s tour buses for a round-trip tour.
Time to complete: Four hours to three days
The road trip from Miami to Key West gets better the longer you spend cruising by shimmering aquamarine waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
The real road trip starts when you reach Key Largo, but if you’re in a hurry you can do the whole 180-kilometre drive without stopping before Key West.
However there are a whole host of reasons (mostly aquatic) to pause for a day trip or night at Key Largo, Islamorada, Big Pine Key or Marathon.
Time to complete: Eight to 10 hours
The American equivalent of the Great Ocean Road, Hana Hawaii snakes along the tropical and remote north-eastern fringe of Maui for a windy 1054 kilometres.
Each neck-craning corner reveals a teeming waterfall or exquisite black-sand beach with a great surf break to boot.
Interspersed amongst the tropical lushness are roadside stands selling all manner of tropical fruit.
Bring your beach towel because you’ll be jumping in and out of rock pools and waterfalls along the way.
Time to complete: Five to 14 days
The grand daddy of American road trips (and in our opinion should be as famous as Route 66), the Great River Road follows the entire 3760 kilometres of Old Man River through ten states.
Beginning in the Mississippi’s northern source, Itasca State Park Minneapolis, and ending just past New Orleans, you will experience the US as Huckleberry Finn would have if he had a car and driver’s license.
Tracing either side of the Mississippi, the verdant farming country of the US offers Kodak moment after Kodak moment. Just as dramatic as the changing landscape, is the changing accents and political views along the way.
All in all it’s an insight into the greatness and weakness of the US, plus a lifetime of memories and stories.