1. Trail Ridge Road, Colorado
Cresting to an elevation of 12,183 feet above sea level in Rocky Mountain National Park, this is the highest continuous paved road in North America. Up top, you are well above the timberline in the alpine tundra. Be sure to stop at Rock Cut to explore this unique ecosystem. On the way up and down, there are countless overlooks with stunning views of the park's 17 peaks, all of which tower above 13,000 feet.
2. Generals Highway, California
Take the Generals Highway from the low-lying town of Three Rivers into the high country of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks. The hairpin switchbacks on the drive up are well worth the reward of a walk through the forest here, where the trees named after Civil War generals are the star attractions. Don't miss General Sherman, the largest tree (by volume) on the planet.
3. Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana
Few drives in the Rockies compare to this spectacular 50-mile, two-lane road, which cuts through Glacier National Park and takes you up and over the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. Here you can catch the trailhead for the popular Hidden Lake Overlook Trail, which can be snowy even in summer. The high-altitude road passes glacial lakes and snow-capped peaks, and drivers often spot mountain goats.
4. Tioga Road, California
Take the high road from Yosemite Valley to Tuolumne Meadows, a hiker's paradise that has the vistas and iconic granite formations of Yosemite Valley but without the crowds. Lace up your boots for a walk in the woods; Cathedral Lakes Trail is a favorite. Afterward, Tioga Road ends at Lee Vining, home of the otherworldly Mono Lake.
5. Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina/Virginia
The legendary Blue Ridge Parkway is the can't-miss scenic drive of the Southeast, covering the 469 miles between the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Park. Among the highlights: Rocky Knob, Mount Pisgah and the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, Virginia.
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