In the United States adventure travel scenic drives are found near just about every beautiful outdoor destinations. Many drive these roads for their scenic beauty and for some the road trip is the adventure. For others the drive is just a means to get one to the grand adventure.
Here is a list of five beautiful scenic drives that I have driven on the way to one of my adventures. They are not the five best in America, but they are five that are worth the trip for drive alone. For each road I will also highlight the adventure at the end as well.
1. Route 9336 in Florida From Miami to Flamingo, Florida
When most think of scenic drives and Miami they will go left at the junction here and continue on U.S. 1 to Key West. That road is awesome too, but for me I prefer to stay right and take 9336 to Flamingo, Florida. This road treks right through the heart of the Everglades and ends at Flamingo on the Florida Bay.
One stop along the way is the Anhinga Trail where one is guaranteed to see multiple alligators from a boardwalk over the swamp. The trail’s namesake will also be in attendance as well as all types of wading birds that make Florida famous.
There is a campground at Flamingo as well as some of the best canoeing and kayaking in the United States. The Wilderness Waterway can be accessed from Flamingo, which is a 99 mile canoe trail that cuts through the Everglades to the western side of the park. There are smaller canoe trails here, and the Florida Bay is a great place to explore as well.
2. Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive
In Wisconsin there are several Kettle Moraine Parks located around Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The two largest units are the Southern Unit near Whitewater, Wisconsin and the Northern Unit just north of West Bend, Wisconsin.
Kettle Moraine are geologic terms that basically mean glacier created hills and depressions. The terrain that the glacier left is beautiful and a great place to adventure. The parks have a great system of trails for all recreations including hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing in the winter.
The Ice Age Trail goes through both parks and it is a 1,100 mile trail that traces the outline of the terminus of the Wisconsin Glacier which covered the landscape over 10,000 years ago. There are great camp spots in all the parks and there are backcountry shelters along the Ice Age Trail for overnight camping for backpackers.
3. Sage Creek Basin in the Badlands
In the Badlands National Park there is a 12 mile dirt road from the main park road to the Sage Creek Basin where it dead ends. The main road has more spectacular canyons, but I found this dirt road to be a little more remote and interesting.
There is a remote car camping spot at the end of the road. The Badlands does have a few trails, but anyone is welcome to just start walking anywhere in the park through the backcountry, and the Sage Creek Basin is a great place for this.
The wildlife is awesome along this road. A large Bison herd roams the grasslands here freely and they can be seen in abundance from the car. Roberts Prairie Dog Town where thousands of cute critters live together is another interesting spot along the way. Where one finds thousands of critters then one will find predators. Golden Eagles and Coyotes are easy to spot and if you are lucky possibly a bobcat.
4. Highway 61 in Minnesota
This road begins in Duluth, Minnesota and follows the north shore of Lake Superior to Canada. Numerous gorgeous state parks, waterfalls, and the Superior Hiking Trail line this road for those looking for adventure.
Cascade Falls near Grand Marais is a series of incredible cascades as the river violently crashes down to its final descent into Lake Superior. The Cross River and the Gooseberry River farther south also end with a bang with beautiful waterfalls before they enter the famed Gitchee Gumme.
The views of Lake Superior are the central feature for this scenic drive. The best is probably found at the Palisade Head, which is this huge rock on a point that provides a wonderful view of Superior.
5. Gunflint Trail – Minnesota
This road is basically an extension of Highway 61, but it deserves its own number because it is quite different and beautiful in its own right. Whereas Highway 61 follows one lake the Gunflint Trail cuts through a wilderness with thousands of lakes. Drive carefully especially at night as moose are frequently seen along the road.
*Image of Badlands National Park via Shutterstock
*Image of quiet country road via Shutettstock