Outdoor & Road Trip

The Best American Road Trips You've Never Heard Of

Off the beaten track:

Many travellers go toward well-known roadways such as Route 66 and the Pacific Coast Highway. But beyond the great names, there are some absolutely breathtaking lesser-known routes just waiting to be discovered. Furthermore, these underestimated routes are less likely to be congested, allowing you to enjoy the feeling of being alone on the wide road. Intrigued? Here are the best American road trips you've never heard of.

Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, Oregon and California:

The Places To Stop By on The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway

This volcano-to-volcano road journey offers plenty of spectacular scenery, as the name suggests. Starting at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, you'll travel 500 miles south to northern California, passing by geothermal geysers, waterfalls, and (of course) volcanoes. Be sure to travel the 33-mile rim road along the edge of Crater Lake (pictured), Mount Mazama's crater. It is breathtakingly gorgeous, with piercing blue waters, and it is also the deepest lake in the country.

Indian and Nine Mile Canyon trail, Utah:

On this 145-mile (233km) loop in central Utah, you may scale canyons, observe ancient rock art, follow old pathways used by Indigenous peoples and early settlers, and visit historic mining communities. This trip begins in the small hamlet of Duchesne, southeast of Salt Lake City, and connects the Indian Canyon Scenic Byway with the remote Nine Mile Canyon Scenic Backway.

Southeast coast of Maui, Hawaii:

South Maui | Go Hawaii

The Road to Hana on Maui is Hawaii's most famous road trip, a winding 52-mile ride along the island's northeast coastline through lush jungle, over little bridges, past trickling waterfalls, and around hairpin bends. However, few people take the route beyond Hana. Those who do will be rewarded with uncrowded seascapes and spectacular driving conditions.

Southeast coast of Maui, Hawaii:

As you continue past Hana, the route hugs the rough volcanic coastline, passing by rushing waterfalls and plunge pools. It can be small and lumpy at times, and it may be impassable in severe weather, so plan beforehand. The seven sacred pools at Ohe'o Gulch are a must-see along this lonely road, as is a climb up the Pipiwai Trail to the 400-foot Waimoku Falls for breathtaking views. Driving by Kaupo will give you a sense of being on the edge of the earth.

Cheese Trail, Vermont:

Vermont Cheese

Shelburne Farms (pictured), on the edge of Lake Champlain, is one of the most gorgeous and fascinating destinations along the journey. The 19th-century farmhouse, a National Historic Landmark, produces tasty and award-winning Cheddar. Take a walk around the 1,400-acre property to work up an appetite for a lunch at the inn. Continuing through more lovely farmland, you'll arrive at Web sterville, where a visit to Vermont Creamery to sample their aged and goat cheeses is a must. To find out when cheesemakers are open, use the interactive map provided by the Vermont Cheese Trail.

Extraterrestrial Highway, Nevada:

On this strange and wonderful excursion along the Extraterrestrial Highway (also known as Highway 375) in southern Nevada, alien sightings take precedence over wildlife sightings. The 470-mile tour will take you through sections of the state known for odd sightings, including Rachel. This former mining town, known as the UFO capital of the world, has a population of 48 and attracts alien spotters and UFO enthusiasts from all over the United States and abroad who hope to encounter extraterrestrial activity.

Extraterrestrial Highway, Nevada:

Extraterrestrial Highway, Nevada:

Begin your journey to Hiko from Las Vegas, where the ET highway continues into the bleak Nevada desert. This lonely stretch of road got its name from hundreds of UFO sighting reports and its proximity to Area 51, a secretive former nuclear testing facility. There are other unique roadside stops, such as alien murals and the Big Alien, as well as lunch at Rachel's Little A'Le'inn (pictured), a motel packed with kitsch memorabilia.

Shipwreck Coast, Michigan:

While it may appear picturesque on a clear day, a visit during severe weather will let you to witness the gigantic winds that have given this section of Michigan's Upper Peninsula its name. The interesting Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum (pictured) and lighthouse in Whitefish Point will educate you on the numerous shipwrecks that have occurred - it is estimated that 300 vessels have ran aground on this perilous stretch of the lake.

Great Plains Adventure, Montana:

Montana's Yellowstone Country - Sunset Magazine

This circular 400-mile road trip across central Montana's badlands and beyond will take you past historic trading stations, ghost towns, riverbank paths, and bison-filled meadows. You'll begin in the picturesque small riverfront hamlet of Fort Benton, a historic buffalo-robe trading post from the 1850s. Before you get behind the wheel, take a boat down the river to get a flavour of what the area must have been like during the early frontier days, when gold was discovered and fortune seekers, outlaws, and merchants swarmed here.